Halloween is fast approaching, and this year’s festivities will look different for many people. Just because you shouldn’t go out doesn’t mean the holiday has to go to waste. We’ve compiled the best hair-raising, bone-chilling, blood-sucking media that you should be listening, watching and playing to put yourself in a Halloween-y mood.
Turn Off The Light
Filled to the brim with spookily danceable beats and betwixt electronic interludes, TURN OFF THE LIGHT by German pop artist Kim Petras is the new blueprint for Halloween music.
The full release contains ten full tracks interspaced with seven interludes, segueing the individual pieces into a cohesive masterpiece. Throughout the songs, Petras transforms herself into devilish nightmares; a scorned lover on “Bloody Valentine,” a seductive succubus on “Death By Sex,” Dracula reborn on “Close Your Eyes.” While the lyrics aren’t the most substantive, Petras combines a pop star’s sex appeal with iconic horror tropes to create a collection of songs that, just like a gory horror film, you just can’t look away from.
As a transgender artist, Petras’s TURN OFF THE LIGHT is a horrifying love letter to her queer fanbase. Queerness has often been demonized by mainstream culture, only hinted at for years in queer-coded villains like The Little Mermaid’s maquillaged Ursula, The Powerpuff Girls’s ever-flamboyant HIM, and even The Silence of the Lambs’s psychotic antagonist Buffalo Bill. Petras dares to reclaim the narrative from a homophobic, transphobic society that threatens to compare her to the Devil or worse.
TURN OFF THE LIGHT will get you dancing to the infectious beat and singing along before making you question exactly what it is you’re singing. Its dark, sexual motifs will bring out the succubus inside you and empower you to forget about your problems for its 49-minute runtime. As you feel the power of the music take over, don’t forget to turn off the lights.
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
If you love Halloween but hate hardcore horror movies complete with jump scares and nightmare-fuel, you’re not alone. I refuse to watch anything branded a horror movie, except for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It stars Gary Oldman as Dracula, Winona Ryder, and Keanu Reeves’ hilariously bad facsimile of a British accent. The best part of this movie is, undoubtedly, the aesthetics. Gothic mansions are lit by flickering candlelight, spires towering over the scenes of ghoulish blood-sucking. Oldman’s domed hair and long red cloak became so iconic that The Simpsons mimicked the outfit in a “Treehouse of Horror.” Ryder’s Victorian dresses fit the context perfectly. The desaturated scenes, the actresses’ rouge the only color on screen, add to the aura of undead-ness that permeates the film. The acting is just the right level of overdramatic, with heaving sighs and shocked gasps every other minute. Of course, it’s not a flawless adaptation — parts of the movie drag, and Reeves was at the point in his career when he was much better suited for, say, Bill and Ted. But in the end, it’s the over-the-top, Gothic, vampiric drama of it all that makes it a perfect Halloween movie.
The Walking Dead: The Game
The Walking Dead: The Game is my favorite video game of all time and, though I highly recommend every season and DLC in the series, Season One is life-changing. Not only did it change my life, but it altered the industry as a whole, shaping the future of decision-based adventure games. As Lee Everett, you become the guardian of Clementine, a young girl, and protect her from humans and zombies, or “walkers,” amidst an apocalypse. You are faced with quick, difficult decisions that impact your story and relationships with characters. Like any game, it has flaws, but its plot, characters, and writing are incredible. Its soundtrack and voice-acting are also superb. The Walking Dead tugs at every heartstring in your body and will leave you an emotional wreck for days after your first playthrough (and, if you’re like me, every single time you revisit the game). Some of the best things about it are its comic book-style graphics, humor and amazing storylines. It also has all of the gore and jumpscares required for a Halloween playthrough. If you enjoy games like Heavy Rain, The Last of Us, Life is Strange and Detroit: Become Human, The Walking Dead is the natural next step for you. (I also recommend the TV show and comics, but that’s a conversation for another day.)
"Epidemiology" (Community Season 2, Episode 6)
In the spooky season, I have a tradition of rewatching all my favorite Halloween-themed sitcom episodes. Because I’m a glutton for good TV, I start with my personal favorite, Community’s “Epidemiology” an all-out zombie movie homage. The only problem with this episode is that it’ll remind you that Community might be the best sitcom ever. Watching “Epidemiology” might turn your Halloween episode binge into a Community binge (I’m speaking from personal experiences). Watch at your own risk.
“Epidemiology” opens with our cast of characters, expectedly, at a Halloween party, all with a voice-over from, unexpectedly, George Taiki (yes, that guy from Star Trek). Unfortunately, the Greendale 7 aren’t able to enjoy the holiday festivities. When the “military rations from an army surplus store” served to party-goers as hors d'oeuvre gives them a flushed face, a fever and an unquenchable appetite for human flesh, that’s when the chaos begins. From then on there’s twenty minutes of cannibal comedy on par with Shaun of the Dead and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.
When Community executes a genre, they generally do it justice. And that’s just what “Epidemiology” does. From the redesigned “spooky” drawings on the dream catcher in the opening credits, to the hilarious costumes, to the repeated, on-brand meta genre references (my personal favorite being when Abed insists that Troy becomes the first black man to make it out alive), Community never forgets that it's doing a Halloween special. Unlike most specials which only use the holiday as a background for usual sitcom shenanigans, “Epidemiology” adapts everything about Community to the Halloween aesthetic.
It’s overall a fantastic sitcom episode. Troy and Abed’s single-episode arc is one of their best in the series. The two best friends wear Alien inspired costumes as part of an elaborate pick-up scheme (here, pick-up scheme is used in the innocent 2010 way and not the viral video way). But Troy decides to ditch his couple’s costume, saying, “I’m a cool, sexy Dracula. I make love to ladies, and I survive.” Having this fight between the cutest couple on the show take place during the dramatic journey to turn down the thermostat in order to kill the virus (which is all it takes to kill a virus, right? right?), makes all the Halloween fun also Community fun.
Now that we’re all a bit more experienced with quarantine, it's time we all experience “Epidemiology,” whether for the first time or one of many more to come.
Photo licensed under Pixabay License. Courtesy of QuinceCreative.