Don’t get me wrong. I love Halloween! The candy, the costumes… well, hey, that’s pretty much enough to make a party in my book.  But like any party, all it takes is one gropey uncle or one spiked punch bowl to make it a miserable experience.  So that’s why I think it’s important to take note of what ruins a good Halloween.  Like the Special Dark lurking in a bag of Hershey’s miniatures, here are the 13 WORST THINGS ABOUT HALLOWEEN.

TV episodes where all the people have costumes far cooler and more expensive than real folks would ever have.  It’s a cool sitcom contrivance: the high school, college or office Halloween party.  It’s topical and can get you a decent promotional push.  But almost every time, the attendees are depicted wearing get-ups that would make even the late Stan Winston envious.  Theatrical make-up, tailor-made costumes.  In real life, it takes lots of time and money to make a really good Halloween costume.  And I’m not talking about taping some candy wrappers and a soda cup to your shirt and going as a movie theatre floor.  Something really cool can cost you big bucks or a good weekend or two if you’re making it yourself.  And yet every Saved By The Bell and 90210 has these kids running around dressed up like they’ve spent eight hours in the make-up trailer preparing to be an extra in Lord of the Rings.

The older trick or treaters.  Me, I stopped trick or treating in earnest when I was 11.  When I was 12, I got dragged along by some friends, even though I insisted we were too old (and I felt way guilty about it).  Still, every year I was in junior high and high school, after all the little kids had come to our door, the older kids would come by – kids my age – and beg for candy.  Most of them had very little in the way of costume, too.  Not saying they were naked, just wearing their every day street clothes and maybe and eye patch or a funny nose they’d hope would pass as a costume.  It was stupid, it was humiliating and these jokers weren’t fooling anyone.  They were past it.

The wanton vandalism. Eggs. TP.  Soaping the windows.  Destroying jack-o-lanterns.  Anyone who’s ever been a victim knows it stinks.  And it’s not as though someone took “trick or treat” as gospel and decided to get even with some old crone who gave them a popcorn ball.  No, they just decided to be punks and have a little fun.  Fun?  Seriously, what are you?  15?  And, if you are 15, grow the hell up.

Spiders.  I  know the decorations and themes are supposed to be scary but enough with the spiders.  I know that no one would have a real bloody skull floating in the punch bowl, but that spider on the table could be real and there isn’t enough candy in the world to make me want to brave a tarantula on the lazy Susan next to the ghost cupcakes.

The lights-outers. I’m not talking about the folks who have their lights out.  Nope, these good people are using the universal symbol of “no trick or treating please” – the unlit porch light.  I’m talking about the goofballs who turn off their porch light out as you walk up to the door!  Happened to me more than once when I was a kid.  Never forgot it and I’ll never understand it.

Bad Dracula impressions.  What is it about a person that makes them want to do an impression badly?  “I vant to suck your blood!”  Guaranteed the idiots who take great joy in doing this have never seen the original 1931 Bela Lugosi film.

Waiting for an adult.  That agonizing time between when you get home and get your costume on and the adult who’s taking you trick or treating gets home and gets ready.  And god help them if darkness falls and you haven’t set out on your trek yet.  Once, when I was about 7, I not only had to wait for my mother to get home but I then had to wait for her stupid boyfriend to come over and take me out trick or treating.  I’m sure the phrase, “But all the good candy will be gone!” was exasperatingly uttered more than once that night.

The Monster Mash. A bad song?  No way. It was cool. The first time you heard it when you were 8.  But ten million plays later, it loses its charm and novelty and makes you want to stab Bobby “Boris” Pickett in the chest with a wooden stake, an act made only slightly less satisfying by the fact that he died in 2007.

“And what are you supposed to be?”  People who don’t get your costume suck.  I’m not talking about people who can’t understand why the sorority girls all dress in green, forcing them to say with sheer glee as if they were the first to ever think of it, “We’re Gang-Green!”  Or those who can’t grasp the obscure TV, film or comic book references that are so esoteric they barely qualify as pop culture.  No, those costumes aren’t meant to be “gotten” by most and that’s why people do it.  No, I’m talking about when you’re six and you go trick or treating and you get to that door with the over-eager dowager who’s so pleased to be getting visitors and she says, “And what are you supposed to be?”  “Lady, I’m six, my mom bought the costume at Woolworth’s.  I’ve got a tail, I’m dressed in fur and I’ve got a cat mask on.  I’m a freakin’ cat!  My brother, the one with the white sheet and the two eye holes, he’s a ghost. And, right now, we’re both this close to knocking your fat arse down and taking all your candy and running.”

Local haunted houses.  Not saying they can’t be fun, but when the Jaycees decide to raise a little money and turn a closed-down Applebee’s into a haunted house for the Halloween season, it’s never really that scary.  It’s guys wrapped in toilet paper and Jell-o brain molds and people jumping out from behind doors.  Dude, I watched The Exorcist when I was 12, you wanna scare me, you better rip someone’s still-beating heart out of their chest with your fist and eat it.  All this is made more disappointing because I’ve seen it done right.  When I was a kid, a group of theatre students every year would rent some old spooky house and do it up and call it Scream In The Dark.  They’d get made up in amazing costumes and make-up and scare the roof off the sucker!  I went every year from when I was 10 to 17 and I was never disappointed. One year, I took a bunch of neighborhoods kids with me, all a few years younger than I was, and they were scared $#!&less!  One had to be led out crying by one of the staff because he couldn’t make it all the way through.  Awesome.

People who think it’s all about Satan.  First, do some research and study history.  It’s got to do with the Celts and the harvest and a bunch of other crap.  If you think dressing up as Gopher from the Love Boat is evil, you’ve got bigger issues than condemning a holiday that is sod all about the devil and more about getting all the candy you can carry.  And yet every year these righteous holes have their Hell Houses and trunk or treating to keep the good kids away from the bad kids who want to play chicken with the demons by dressing up and going door to door.

The lame stuff.  Toothbrushes.  Bible verses.  Candy apples.  And don’t even get me started on having to go to the hospital to X-ray your candy.

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special. Donny & Marie.  Florence Henderson.  Betty White.  Billy Barty.  Pinky Tuscadero.  Witchiepoo from H. R. Pufnstuf.  KISS.  And the funniest confirmed bachelor the 70s had to offer.  Now, this is true evil!

               Sparky MacMillan will rise out of the pumpkin patch. He flies through the air and brings toys to all the children of the world.


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