The air is starting to carry a chill, the leaves are showing their first hints of color, and the stench of pumpkin spice haunts every corner of every suburb in America: it must be October!
Each October, Cinepunx takes the opportunity to spend the month celebrating our most beloved holiday, Halloween! Dubbed Cine-Ween, this month-long celebration involves articles, podcast episodes, and special giveaways as well your favorite Cine-Punkers showing up at local “spoopy” events around the Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley area. We take this opportunity to expand our already sick obsession with Horror in all its forms even more, to enjoy all manner of spooky and chilling arts, and to relate why this time of year is so important to Cinepunx as an online and “IRL” community. Yes, we are not alone, and perhaps the extension of Halloween to an entire month by not only this site but many across the internet is a bit old. However, for us, things that go bump in the night, stories that fascinate and terrify, these can often be a cathartic release during distressing times — like, say, when the nation is being run by a fascist, racist megalomaniac bent on world destruction or whatever.
For me, Halloween is a time to remember a part of myself I have been asked to leave behind. I have recounted many times how my love affair with horror and my journey into film began with a too early viewing of A Nightmare On Elm Street. Would my dreams have been more pleasant if Kreuger had never entered them? Perhaps. They would also have been less wild and adventurous and strange. Horror was not for me, as it can be for so many, about cruelty or amusement at the suffering of others. Horror was a kind of more real fantasy, a fantasy that lived in a world of pain and suffering that I could see was real. Not the creatures, they were not what was real, but that this world ended. That our lives were brief, and that all too often, heroes lose. More than that, as I grew older, horror was the place in film and in books,l where I could engage ideas considered too dark and disturbing for a young person. In horror, it seems to me, we are given the freedom to engage some of our hardest realities, or most difficult issues, without the danger of being didactic. We can engage these things under the mantle of play, of grand guignol, and while it might often seem like simply a slight and silly thing, often we excoriate real demons from our personal and public psyche.
Halloween is also, for those of us living in a particular eco-system (another thing that is giving us anxiety, because how much longer will seasons be a thing?), an almost unbelievably seasonally appropriate holiday. Summer has ended, and thus with it the fun and joy of warm weather. Soon, winter will come, a time of death and despair. Now though, things are slowly fading, the spiders are out, the leaves are turning, and what better time to focus on the end? Death is inevitably a theme of this time, and yet we celebrate it with fun and revelry and sillyness. Halloween is haunted by death and fear, but it is also about food and costumes and fun.
So yes, it is thematically appropriate to celebrate life and death and to tell the sorts of stories that get to the heart of what we care about all during this time. It is also a marriage of opposites, just like Cinepunx. Halloween is a time where, in a way, we often play at death, we mock and satarize that which makes us afraid. We play act, we mimic, we pretend and thus in some ways become and in other ways conquer our fears. We give them form and life and function even in our entertainment. Halloween can be a squishy, soft, thin, and liminal space in our culture. Where joy and despair meet, where we cross a bridge from life to death without fear of not crossing back. It marries things that bring us life and things that destroy us. Cinepunx wants to be that, that meeting place of high and low, of light and dark, of crass and higbrow, of hope and despair. At least, that is our dream.
Cine-Ween, then, we hope to be a bit of nostalgia to remind us of why this holiday has shaped us and informed us and helped us to dream certain dreams. It is a bit of newness and life as we search for those bits of garishness and fearfulness and grisly gore that we have not yet discovered. Cine-Ween is a chance to highlight new folks, new voices, and welcome back old friends. It is a chance to invite the uninitiated to come and see, knowing that for all too many, their love affair with the weird and wild in cinema started with a spooky movie. That first taste of the strange and the macabre has brought so many into the church of the silver screen and we thank it for that. It is also a chance for the devoted, the “trve kvlt” of the grim and terrible to find us and perhaps find some kindred spirits, some family in arms, and some fuel for their further journey through the dark. There will of course be a lot of horror film and TV talk, but also some literature, some seasonal adventures, a scary story or two, and some awesome conversations about why any of this matters to us.
More then that, I am hoping Cine-Ween is an opportunity for you to join us. My wife hates scary movies. She simply cannot and will not enjoy the experience of being afraid. Still, early in our relationship, I kind of made her watch Halloween with me. I felt like the film had been so important to me and my growing up, she needed to see it. This began a tradition for us: once every October, she allows me to subject her to one scary film. As we recalled some of those together, she reminded me of something: how often I would invite others over to share those experiences with us, so that they could participate. In fact, for me, every October is not and cannot be simply a matter of me making time every day to watch a scary movie by myself! Halloween is, at a very deep level for me, something to share. This idea then, extended beyond the holiday, is a central part of who Cinepunx is striving to be. Sharing film and art and music and culture, sharing those things that make us feel more alive, can build real and important community. To me, that community experience is almost as important as the thing itself. So, I want to invite you, loyal reader, to partipate with us, to let Cine-Ween be your in to this community. That might be, and has been for a few of you, taking this opportunity to submit your voice to enrich ours (cinepunx at gmail). It might also be an opportunity to email us or talk to us on social media or invite us to come out to your event, or if you are already a big fan, to find some way to work your community into ours! Who knows what spooky and wonderful delights we will find together this season, but it will be that much better because it is together.