Halloween Guide: M - S
M is for Movies
Perhaps only rivalled by the upsurge in the plastic horn industry around 31 Oct, the annual economic boost for the horror film industry ensures that, every Halloween, there is a fresh crop of dismembered corpse-filled flicks to satisfy our bloodlust. The obvious contender for this year’s big Halloween horror hit has to be Rob Zombie’s Halloween II which, despite a muted response from critics, offers too great a temptation to revel in masked maniac Michael Myers’ latest killing spree than most of us mere mortals can resist.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Halloween without another Saw movie and Saw VI weighs in with more cruel and unusual terror traps. This most gruesome and bloody of mainstream horror series’ single handedly reignited the entire horror industry back in 2004. A new Saw film has been released in time for Halloween every year since and, although six is a silly number of sequels, that won’t stop hardened fans going back for more.
Elsewhere, decent horror movies are out in abundance. Jennifer’s Body – Oscar winning writer Diablo Cody’s follow-up to Juno – will show a demon possessed Megan Fox chowing down on her male classmates at preview screenings on 31 Oct, while on other screens there’s haunted ship pic Triangle; spreading insanity in Pontypool; creepy sci-fi in Pandorum; vampires galore in Chan-wook ‘Oldboy’ Park’s Thirst; more bloodsuckers in Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant and big budget undead comedy in Zombieland.
Of the many cinemas getting into the spirit, perhaps the most exciting special screening is the ‘Night of the Zombie Hunters’ at the GFT (Glasgow, 26 Oct) with George A Romero’s classics Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead introduced by actors Ken Foree (Dawn) and Joe Pilato (Day). On 31 Oct itself the GFT have Casper for the kids followed by Nosferatu for grown-ups. Micro budget UK zombie movie Colin is getting a screening at Newton Stewart Cinema in Dumfries and Galloway (29 & 30 Oct), and let’s hope more are announced as it looks like a unique take on the walking dead.
Glasgow’s Odeon at the Quay is hosting its annual all-night horror marathon with Jennifer’s Body, Dawn of the Dead (2004), My Bloody Valentine 3D, Saw VI and one more tbc (31 Oct, from midnight). The Empire, Clydebank, is getting in on the act with its own all-night quadruple bill of Saw VI, The Exorcist, Child’s Play and Let the Right One In (31 Oct). The Cameo, Edinburgh hosts late-night screenings (30 & 31 Oct) of American Werewolf in London, with a special introduction by a ‘real’ werewolf, while the cinema’s Sunday double bill (Sun 1 Nov) goes for old school classic chills with The Raven and Targets, preceded by a recitation of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem. And watch out for late night specials of My Bloody Valentine 3D at Vue Omni and Ocean (both Edinburgh) on Fri 30 & Sat 31 Oct.
N is for Nightlife
Dressing up for Halloween definitely isn’t just for the kids, and with Halloween falling on a Saturday this year there are plenty of club events taking advantage of the date. The biggest party in town has to be the Vegas! massive 12th birthday party (Ocean Terminal, Edinburgh, Sat 31 Oct). Dressing up is always encouraged at Vegas! but try to keep it ‘fabulous’. Guests include The Kitsch Kats and Craig McMurdo with his Dance Orchestra alongside the Vegas! showgirls and the peerless DJ team and their good time mix of jazz, swing, easy listening, big band and country classics.
For a darker take on the fancy dress party there’s Optimo (Espookio) (Sub Club, Glasgow, Sun 2 Nov). Expect the quirkiest costumes to match the ever eclectic soundtrack of underground oddities plus a live set from Cold Cave and their twisted electro pop (they also guest at Playdate at Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, Sat 31 Oct).
The Arches in Glasgow hosts two big Halloween parties with techno and house from Pressure (Slam are joined by Green Velvet, Robert Hood and more on Fri 30 Oct) and trance and hard house from Inside Out (featuring Marcel Woods and Headhunterz amoung others on Sat 31 Oct).
For techno action JakN returns for a one off date combining both its sixth birthday celebrations and its Halloween party (GRV, Edinburgh, Sat 31 Oct). Metro Soul host their first ever Halloween party of underground house with guest Hector Moralez (Ad Lib, Glasgow, Sat 31 Oct). There’s a Warehouse Halloween Afterparty at SWG3 (Glasgow, Sat 31 Oct) with a gothic/rockabilly theme. There’s a techno showdown at Bleep vs Kreep with live guest Dexter (Universal, Glasgow, Sat 31 Oct).
If you fancy something with a bit more groove check out the Soulsville Halloween Motown Special (Mono, Glasgow, Fri 30 Oct). Rock’N’Shock (Stereo, Glasgow, Fri 30 Oct) mix up rock, electro punk, grime and breaks with Warlock (Rag And Bone Records), live guests Fangs, The Evil Eye and more. Classic Grand (31 Oct) offer a soundtrack of punk, emo, indie, rock and metal with £500 worth of cash prizes to be won. There’s spooky tunes and live music (from Asazi Space Funk Explosion) at Trouble, (Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Sat 31 Oct). For mixed up funk, house, beats, hip hop and funk head to the Horrible Halloween Headspin (Bongo Club, Edinburgh, Sat 31 Oct) and they state: ‘freaky fancy dress costumes are encouraged, giving those that have made an effort ultra cheap entry’.
O is for Oration
As part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, the Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh will be hosting a special event of tales from the ‘otherworld’. Huddle close as storyteller Linda Williamson introduces a selection of stories from guest readers. There might also be a bit of dancing and singing thrown in for good measure.
Night of the Circle: Stories from the Otherworld, Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh, 0131 473 2000, Sat 31 Oct, 7.30pm, £10 (£8).
P is for Paranormal Activity
It started as a no budget fright film, somehow found its way into Steven Spielberg’s hands (he was so freaked out by the film he refused to let the preview disc back into his home) and now Paranormal Activity is set to become the buzz film of 2009. Heralded by many as the scariest film of the year, it purports to be home-video footage from a couple who set out to capture the weird events going on at night in their suburban home.
After chasing distribution for years it was finally picked up by DreamWorks with director Oren Peli pencilled in to remake his own film on a bigger budget. But the no frills ‘found footage’ approach was so effective they canned the remake option.
The fan reaction has been frenzied. Released in the US exclusively at midnight screenings, it was drip fed to the public with sold out theatres and more and more fans clicking on the ‘Demand It’ website (www.eventful.com/paranormalactivity) to bring the movie to their city (with a full nationwide US release promised if the counter reaches 1,000,000). It’s a film lead by public demand that has created a new and unique distribution network. Witness the phenomenon when it hits the UK on 27 Nov.
Q is for Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
Gather in the woods for this spooky Halloween party in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. There will be a candlelit ghost walk, as well as party games, apple dooking and jugglers. The beautiful forest setting, just outside Aberfoyle, is the perfect place to tell ghost stories around a flickering camp fire.
Queen Elizabeth Forest Park Halloween Party Night, David Marshall Lodge Visitor Centre, Achray Forest, Aberfoyle, 01877 382 258, Sat 31 Oct, 5pm. £tbc.
R is for Rock
The devil has the best tunes, it’s just that his vinyl collection keeps melting in the heat of the fiery pits of Hades. Not that this should put you off, especially since the likes of New York death metal troupe Cannibal Corpse are in town. A band whose detuned, deranged splatter-fest makes it to Glasgow with some exquisite timing. The band’s output has been so controversial that some of their early albums were banned in many countries around the world. The band defend their art by saying they’re writing their own little horror movies in their songs and not to take the likes of ‘Born in a Casket’ or ‘Edible Autopsy’ too seriously.
Similarly unhinged but more musically ambitious is Behind the Light in Edinburgh, another evening of unassuming musical extremes. A ten-band bill for £3 spells good value, almost as good as the bands’ descriptions themselves. Fancy some crypto-future text-step? That would be Morphamish vs. Texture. A bit of psychologic squelch, electric scrape and acoustic bang? Look no further than Diva Abrasiva. And if you need to polish up on your grotesque burlesque skronk-hop? You’ll need to hear Sileni. Perhaps the nuts really do come out just once a year.
ABC, Glasgow, Sat 31 Oct; Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh, Sat 31 Oct.
S is for Samhuinn
Plastic bats, pointy polyester hats and sugary ‘candy’ treats aren’t in any way traditional, yet this is the sort of Halloween we often find ourselves embracing: the Americanised version. Not that we’re judging, mind. But if you take the time to delve into the real origins of the festival, you’ll find something much more organic in character and aligned with the harvesting of the seasons (and, no, we’re not talking about toffee apples).
The true meaning of Halloween traces back hundreds of years to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, where local communities would party like it was, erm, 1099, as they celebrated the last gasp of the fertile season. The focus was on life and death: the dying of one season and the stirrings of another and during the festival it was thought that the living and the dead could intermingle and celebrate this one night, hand in phantom hand.
As is often the case with such ancient festivals, Halloween has found a rebirth in a modern community keen to embrace the messages of the past. The Beltane Fire Society brought the festival of Samhuinn (their spelling) back to pyrotechnic-popping life in the late 1990s, with their outdoor fire celebration on the streets of Edinburgh’s old town.
The society’s re-telling of Samhuinn features the Green Man (representing summer) who merges into the Horned God, King of Winter. The two kings battle it out, with fists replaced by fire, drum beats and ritualistic dances; their supporting crowd consisting of fantastical costumed creatures and spirits.
And where sometimes at Halloween you paint your face the shade of pumpkin and ostensibly feel like a bit of a wally, at the BFS Samhuinn celebration it’s de rigueur. The tradition of disguising your face with paint and masks is a measure to protect oneself from the unwanted attentions of the imps and faeries that slip through from the ‘other world’ on this night. So looking silly is a necessary defensive measure, alright?
Sets off from Castle Esplanade, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Sat 31 Oct, 9pm, pay by donation. www.beltane.org