Have any of you ever wondered how Halloween became such a popular holiday? Who came up with the idea of people dressing up in costumes for one night, knocking on a stranger’s door, and asking for candy? Remember when you were younger and your parents told you not to take candy from strangers? I wonder why they never concluded that statement with, “except on Halloween…yeah, it is completely fine to take candy from strangers on Halloween”? Seems strange to me.
Aside from dressing up and the free candy aspect of Halloween, there are a myriad of things to enjoy during the Halloween season. Treats, if you will, that will quench your Halloween thirst, and leave you terrified—well, maybe not terrified; more along the lines of a bringing bright smile across your face. Yeah, that sounds more like it. I have the privilege of starting off The Sci-fi Christian’s Halloween themed week. So, sit back, relax, and allow a stranger to offer you some Halloween treats. Mmwaahahahahaha! Sorry. I had to.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favorite show of all time. Over the course of seven seasons, Buffy had numerous holiday themed episodes. One, in particular, from season two is aptly titled, “Halloween.” The concept behind this episode is that a mysterious man from Giles’ past opens up a costume shop in Sunnydale and puts a spell on all of the costumes in his store; this ensures that the individual wearing the outfit will, for all intents and purposes, become the essence of the costume. Can you imagine the chaos that ultimately ensues? Try to picture little kids, dressed up as demons, actually becoming demons—creepy! There are three things that I really enjoy about this episode, and without giving too much away, I will briefly describe each aspect.
- This marks the first time we get to see Xander in “commando mode.” Without revealing the plotline, I’ll just say that it is nice to see Xander, a character who is usually not much of a help in dangerous circumstances, taking charge for once…with a really large gun!
- In this episode, Buffy is helpless and scared. Normally, this would annoy me—why would I want to watch a show about a vampire slayer who is afraid of vampires? The great thing about this episode is that it displays a vulnerable side to a beloved character who is usually kicking a lot of butt, while at the same time, allowing the other characters to step up and really shine.
- Throughout the entirety of the first season, and the beginning of the second season, the audience is pretty clear as to who Giles is: a boring, clumsy, yet brilliant librarian who just so happens to be the Slayer’s Watcher. Well, in “Halloween,” the character of Giles begins to unfold, opening up for forthcoming endeavors into his past; and let me just say, Giles is truly someone not to mess with.
I would highly recommend this great episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you have Netflix, you can watch the episode on streaming!
Masked is a short story compilation edited by Lou Anders and published by Gallery Books. The theme of the book is superheroes; although broad, it leaves quite a bit of room for the authors to work with. Considering that the superhero is a commonly sought after costume for Halloween, I figured that this would be an appropriate book to talk about. I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed eleven of the thirteen shorts in this anthology. Here are synopses of two of my favorites:
- “Cleansed and Set in Gold” by Matthew Sturges is a fantastic story, with a very surprising twist in the form of the main character’s power; and it is really disturbing (absolutely not for the faint of heart). The unoriginal premise of the story—an all-powerful villain on the loose murdering heroes—is overshadowed by Sturges’ focus on Wildcard, a reserve member of the League of Heroes, who is highly conflicted with his unique ability. How does Wildcard take matters into his own hands? How does he “save the day”? No spoilers here—sorry.
- “Downfall,” written by Joseph Mallozzi (Producer of the Stargate franchise), is less of a short story and more of a novella; this makes it easy for Mallozzi’s main character to be developed very clearly. “Downfall” tells the story of Marshall, a reformed villain doing his utter best to steer clear of the life he left behind; however, when a hero is murdered, Marshall finds himself in the midst of the drama, trying to uncover the perpetrator behind this heinous act.
This book is highly entertaining. While reading it, you may find yourself wanting to wear a cape and a spandex suit…Halloween only happens once a year, right?
I think there should be theme songs for every event. For instance, as a graduating class is being congratulated by the officiator of the ceremony, turning their tassels from right to left, I think that it would be a sight to behold if the entirety of graduates were to begin chanting “School’s out for summer!” Appropriately enough, I think that Halloween should have a theme song as well; and what better song than Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller”? Here are three reasons why this song screams Halloween:
- The music video depicts the horror of the song perfectly. A dark eerie night; fog and graveyards; creaking doors; a low, raspy, unfamiliar voice declaring the frightfulness of the evening’s mystery. All of these aspects add to a truly “Halloweenesque” event.
- “Thriller” was apparently ahead of its time. Zombies are the scary creatures of the music video, chasing after Michael Jackson and his character’s girlfriend. Nowadays, zombies are a huge hit with an overwhelming amount of movies, television shows, novels, and comic books portraying zombies in various situations. Trust me, I have seen plenty of zombies around Halloween to know that I am not the only one who would consider this song the perfect anthem.
- Imagine you are walking down the street on Halloween, dressed up as a Ninja Turtle, opening up a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup; all of the sudden, a large group of zombies start walking toward you. What is going on? you may ask yourself, I thought this was Halloween, not the end of the world. Just as you’re about to run for your life, the zombies begin to snap their heads side to side in jolted motion. This is followed by the smooth sliding of feet, arms raised slightly above their midsection—one extended to the front and the other extended backwards—and the wonderful, yet direful sound of dance beats flowing through the air. They aren’t going to eat your flesh—they just want to dance. Michael Jackson was a great dancer, but with zombies backing up his awe-inspiring moves, “Thriller” is an unstoppable hit.
And there you have it, folks. I hope you enjoyed my treats. Stay tuned tomorrow, as Joshua reveals what’s in his Jack-O-Lantern.
You would still eat the peanut butter cup right…I mean seriously those things are gold!
Without a doubt. Even if I felt my life was being threatened by flesh eating zombies, there would still be time to savor a delicious peanut butter cup.
I really want to check out that episode of Buffy. I never really sat down and watched the show. Maybe someday, but you gave me a good place to start.
It sounds like the way they handled Giles in that episode is like an episode of Chuck. General Beckman is a character in the show that is mostly shown on a computer screen via webcam or in an office. There was a few episodes where she got out on the field to kick some butt. One of which, they gave her a gun. Not just some pistol. A flippin’ bazooka! It was great!
Brady, you should definitely check out the show. I will be honest the first season is a little slow (and pretty cheesy), but it is still fun. And once you get passed that, it gets really good. I would check out Ben’s Buffy retrospective in the archives of the site. He does a great job at reviewing each season without giving too much away, and if my mention of the Halloween episode peeked your interest, his articles will surely enhance your excitement.
I will say that the character of Giles is one of my particular favorites.
Also, bazookas are cool.
Great “treats,” Max — thank you! I’m especially intrigued by your “Masked” recommendation, and will have to get myself a copy. There’s a similar, superhero fiction anthology I have read, entitled “Who Will Save Us Now?” You might like it as a companion volume.
And I have been listening to “Thriller” ad infinitum on my mp3 player this past week! It is truly a classic.
That is a pivotal episode of Buffy.
Still haven’t gotten around to Buffy, but you and Ben are getting me pretty interested. As for Masked, I definitely want to check it out. As for Thriller, my wife recently confessed that she has never seen it…I sounded like a fool trying to explain the plot of a 13 minute music video. Gotta love Vincent Price in that, too. A true Master of the Macabre.