I’m the first one to admit that Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays. I enjoy giving candy to the little monsters and superheroes and princesses that show up at my front door, but that’s about it. I don’t dress up anymore (ghost socks don’t really count). But I like scary things. Our family went to the Universal Halloween Horror Nights a couple of years ago, and while it was kind of fun (we got to walk right next to the house from Psycho), people dressed up as “creepy” monsters jump at you from behind things just gets old after a while. That’s not genuinely scary; that’s just getting startled. A lot. It’s a little bit like having my cat drop down on my head from the shelves that sit behind my computer chair. Repeatedly. Not so much fun.
But really, genuinely scary things–movies, books, songs–can be fun in the right doses. As a kid, I read the books about haunted houses and ghosts. There’s some Stephen King novels that still make me a little nervous. And Edgar Allen Poe’s stories freak me out. I slept with the lights on for a solid week after I saw Blair Witch Project. The Exorcist and Paranormal Activity are good spooky fun. And I’ll never forget the feeling I got after I watched The Ring on cable and the phone rang. (It was my dad, I think.) That’s fun. You know it’s not real, but you still can’t help looking over your shoulder, just in case. I’m still spooked by the classic creepy household things: dark corners and unexpected noises . . . mirrors at night . . . rocking chairs. Closets must be kept closed at all times (that’s practical, too; keeps the cats out). Curtains and blinds stay shut after sunset. Just in case, you know.
I love a good ghost story. One of my personal favorites is the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland. It’s not scary (although when I was a kid, there were these screaming heads that jumped out from behind everything; I hated them), but it is fun. Some of the best F/X in the park. It’s hard to find good video of it, though, because it’s so dark (this was pretty much the best one I found, because it uses a track from an album about the ride as narration). But it’s one of the best rides in the park, full of fun and music. So hop in a Doom Buggy and enjoy the ride.