“Boys and girls of every age. Wouldn't you like to see something strange? Come with us and you will see...This our town of Halloween.”
These famous words mark the start of that now famous anthem that represents all Halloween lovers around the world. No matter how many times I have seen The Nightmare Before Christmas, I still get goosebumps and a surge of excitement. My strange and
unusual mind goes a million miles per hour with every word in the song, “This is Halloween.” My thoughts parade in the bliss and joy of so many wonderful memories from previous Halloween celebrations. From the wonderful adventures of trick or treating and landing the biggest Kit Kat chocolate bars as a kid, to making a grown man cry after relentlessly chasing him around an event in a Pennywise The Clown costume (In my defense, I was trying to return his phone).
It was with The Nightmare Before Christmas when I think my fascination for all things creepy began. I can’t place my finger at what age I must have seen it for the first time, but it was definitely in the developing years. With every rewind of the VHS tape my DNA strands fused with all things Halloween. Picture that scene in Spider-Man, where Peter Parker gets bitten by a spider and you see his DNA being converted by these new special powers. Except instead of super Spidey sense my special powers became pumpkin carving and scaring the living daylights out of people. And while the kids were singing along to “Mary had a little lamb”, I was busy watching, “Silence of the Lambs”. Growing up in the playground of a catholic school and pretending to be Dr. Hannibal Lecter never really yielded the best results. Aside from a couple of nuns trying to discourage my love for the spooky season, my love only grew stronger and bigger each year. My Mother (whom I jokingly and lovingly refer to as Norma Bates) always encouraged me to have fun and to enjoy the things I love...especially Halloween! In the 80’s, my Mom was always the first in line when it came to movies like Beetlejuice, The Shining, Poltergeist, Friday the 13th, and so many other classics. Her love for Halloween has always radiated in the house with her love for buying Halloween decorations year-round. And when it comes to watching movies on a Friday night, she will always choose a horror film over anything else. She attributes her love for Halloween to my grandfather who would encourage her to watch shows like The Addams Family or The Munsters. I guess there must be some ghoulish gene that runs in the family?
Growing up, I always wanted to go the extra mile in my costumes. And by extra mile I didn't mean having the best costume at school or parties. I just meant having the costume that would excite people the most or put them in a hospital bed. My mom being an amazing makeup artist and a responsible adult would make sure that I would get my wish! As a kid, I never wanted to be a superhero or an item of food. Side note, seriously, who sees their child and thinks, “oh my son would look great as a pancake.” Instead, I always chose costumes from the classic movie monster repertoire like Dracula or Frankenstein! Every year I would be excited to see the end of summer come as that meant that Halloween time was approaching. My family would take trips to clothing thrift shops and the excitement of looking around for the next possible costume was exhilarating. As the years came and went, Halloween only seemed to get better. Movies like Halloweentown rolled into Disney Channel and were of course added to the annual must watch Halloween movie playlist alongside movies like Hocus Pocus. If you are not watching one of these movies during the spooky season, then turn in your Halloween membership card now!
I remember the streets of my neighborhood being flooded with kids trick or treating while growing up. As a lot of my friends grew and we moved away from each other, those once big Halloween parties were seemingly exorcised out of the house. For a while it seemed that the flame inside the Jack-O-Lantern was going to be extinguished. I would feel so sad dressing up as my favorite horror character only once a year on October 31st. However, as I made the transition into adulthood, I realized that there was a whole community of people dressing up as they pleased, any day and time of the year. My mind was blown when I first learned about cosplaying! I started attending cons to get a feel for what it would be like to walk around a bunch of people dressed as a Vampire in the middle of July! I was afraid that people would think that there was something wrong with me. But instead of rejection, I found acceptance, love, and so many amazing ghosts and witches who also celebrate every day of their life in the spirit of Halloween! Cosplaying is one big Halloween party that goes year-round!
I absolutely love horror and nothing else oozes and bleeds horror more than scary clowns! Amidst a sea of scary clowns all tumbling out of a tiny car with circus music playing in the background, at the top of the list you will find Stephen King’s Pennywise the Dancing Clown. For years, the image of Tim Curry in heavy clown makeup and red hair lurking in the sewers of Derry haunted an entire generation. After years of holding the shape of Tim Curry, Pennywise broke into his new mold and came to us in the shape of the actor Bill Skarsgard. After exactly 27 years, Pennywise made his return to the big screen to eat/entertain a new generation of scared children. When the movie came out in the fall of 2017, I saw it multiple times at the theater and soon realized that this would be the ultimate Halloween costume/cosplay! All my life I had been searching for that one character that would help me quench my thirst for inflicting sweet Halloween fear on others and with this movie coming out, I finally found IT (pun intended)!
There is something so supernatural about clowns! All that paint in their faces that removes hints of humanity and the weird shapes caused by their disproportionate clothes really brings out something supernatural about their existence. IT (Pennywise) really brings into reality what we all fear what a clown might be really like underneath that paint if we were to get really close. What I love about the character is that IT really embraces what Halloween is all about. It’s that fear of the unknown, the darkness in an unfamiliar street, and the uneasiness in the silence that makes our boundless imaginations dream up scenarios that make our hearts beat a little faster.
You can’t ever really kill a horror movie monster! Take Michael Myers as an example (the scary tall dude wearing a painted William Shatner mask and yielding a knife)! Since 1978 we have seen him get shot, stabbed, shot, trampled by a truck, shot again, burnt, electrocuted, beaten, and oh did I mention shot again! Pennywise is no exception and with the success of the newest adaptation of the book, a sequel was destined to happen (also considering the size of the story in the book it needed to happen). When Pennywise was brought back for IT: Chapter 2 I was thrilled that I would be able to bring back my Pennywise cosplay to life. The day of the premiere for the second installment of the story I was so overjoyed that I wanted to celebrate with my friends. We were driving around downtown Las Vegas not really knowing where to go. That’s when we made a wrong turn at the street that houses the incredible Millennium Fandom Bar!!! When we walked in, I felt the little kid within me take over and my Halloween senses were tingling all around. Inside the MFB, each and every corner paid homage to so many of the classic and modern horror films I love. As we walked by the door, I noticed a poster advertising a “Pennywise and Pals Party” that was happening the following week. The week floated by and the day of the party came...and along came Pennywise and ate everyone away (wow that rhymes)! That very special night (as I sweated underneath the layers of clown white makeup), I realized the spirit of Halloween comes back to life like every other good monster in a movie. It glows with all its cadaverous pallor and beautiful aura of foreboding consistently in the cosplay community. All those trick-or-treaters from my childhood grew up and their spirit now possesses the members of the amazing MFB community!
To the common mortal, Halloween may be just a time in October when they get to go to parties in costume. But to me and the rest of the MFB cosplay community, it’s more than that! I’d like to think that Halloween was the starting point that ignited the fire for many of us as cosplayers. As kids, we had fun playing as our favorite characters and getting the chance to get to be them on Halloween. As teens, we learned how to improve our costumes by doing the impossible to get it right. Always in the name of having fun and bringing something exciting, adventurous, or scary to the party. And now as we live in the scariest horror movie of all time: ADULTHOOD...we still love to bring the characters we love the most to life, parade as them, and use them to bring joy into the lives of those around us. Every time I get the Halloween blues, I suit up as any of my favorite spooky characters and go to the MFB where the masquerade never ends.
Although this year there will be no in person Halloween celebration at the MFB, I am happy to be connected with a community that upholds respect and love for the health and safety of others. There is nothing scarier than disregard for the lives of our fellow human beings! That doesn’t mean we still can’t celebrate! Have a zoom party, scare someone from their window, eat a ton of candy, carve some pumpkins, watch all the mandatory Halloween movies, and simply have fun with your creativity! Let’s all do our part to not get eaten by the monsters that crawl under our bed this year. When the time comes, we will all be celebrating Halloween the right way at the MFB. And it doesn’t even matter what time of the year it is because at the Millennium Fandom Bar every day is HALLOWEEN!
Andy Herrera, guest blogger for the fandombar.com Community bLog