I’m not sure which I enjoy more – Halloween Phase I (September), or Halloween Phase II (October). I love Phase I because it’s so encouraging to watch the remnants of Summer slowly make way for Fall, and keep track of the city’s transition into Halloween Mode (and by extension general Holiday Mode). I’m also a little less busy in September and more able to relax and enjoy it.
But damned if October isn’t a hell of a great month.
The weather is finally starting to cool down, just about every establishment has some sort of Halloween presence represented, pumpkins are readily available at grocery stores (to say nothing of pumpkin beers). Most importantly, I get to publically celebrate Halloween in full fashion without looking like a complete weirdo. Not a complete weirdo.
My hope for this website has always been pretty simple – infect people with Halloween spirit. Apart from the outlet it provides to record my own thoughts and memories, that’s always been the primary purpose of writing here. So with that in mind, I’m going to take this opportunity to list what I believe to be the best ways to celebrate Halloween all month long.
- Go to a haunted attraction. Yeah, we can debate the cost-benefit analysis, and they may not be for everyone, but I have long believed that if you desire an adrenaline shot to the heart equivalent of Halloween spirit, this is the best way to get it. I’ve tried to provide links to Phoenix’s most notable haunted houses in the menu on the right, and I always review the ones I personally go to on the Reviews page.
- Watch horror movies. It’s obvious, sure, and it’s something most anyone with a passing interest in Halloween does, but it is a cheap (or free) way to get in the proper mood. AMC does Fearfest every year – two weeks of nothing but horror movies. If all else fails, you can turn to that channel and buckle in. As for the cream of the crop of Halloween movies, my personal preferences include: Halloween (no shit), Nightmare on Elm Street, Nightmare Before Christmas (best family-friendly option), Poltergeist, Night of the Living Dead (1968 or 1990), Dawn of the Dead (1978 or 2004), Return of the Living Dead, Bride of Frankenstein, and most of all, Trick R Treat.
- Go to a Halloween store. Even if you’re not buying a pre-fab costume, and have no use for overpriced gory props, it’s still an utter joy to just browse through a Halloween store. Spirit has been gradually upping its game for years, and 2013 is no exception. It’s a blast just to test out all their crazy animatronics (do it before children break them all) and revel in all their creative decorations. Party City is no slouch either, and they even have a few dedicated “Costume Warehouse” stores peppered about the city. Easley’s Costume Shop on 5th ave. and McDowell is always a good time and the store of choice if you want higher quality costume supplies. If you see a place labeled “Halloween Superstore”, turn around and drive away. It’s a remnant of yesterday’s half-assed, overpriced Halloween stores that carries nothing you can’t find cheaper somewhere else, and has almost nothing but pre-packaged costumes.
- FEEL THE MUSIC. I’ve repeatedly lamented the sorry state of commercial Halloween mix CDs, and even internet radio stations devoted to Halloween music fall into the same well-trodden ground of Ghostbusters Themes, Purple People Eaters, classic rock songs with no ties to Halloween besides a spooky song title, and the dregs of 1960’s Monster Mash rip-offs. One of the few things I brag about with reckless abandon is my years-long cultivation of TRUE Halloween music that sets the right tone. I finally updated my playlist over in the sidebar, and I strongly recommend you play it – perhaps in the background while you do something else. I didn’t necessarily make an all-new playlist for 2013, because I’m kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel of Halloween songs now, but I will gladly get a CD to you if you still have a use for physical media.
- Stab a pumpkin. Safeway has good quality, cheap pumpkins by the truckload. If kept indoors they last for months, but once you break the skin they will rot in two days. But to me nothing is more Halloween than a jack o lantern, and it’s a tradition I will forever uphold.
- Donate to Halloween 13! Yes, I am shameless. Several American heroes have already generously donated to the cause, but amazingly there’s still far more to do and yet more money required to do it. Becky and I give everything we’ve got to bring you the best Halloween party we can picture, and I promise not to let you down if you’re planning to attend.