Meghan: Hey!! Welcome back. Thanks for agreeing to help us see how long we can celebrate Halloween this year. What is your favorite part of Halloween?
S.C.: Dressing up! I love costumes, and the time spent finding the perfect one is just as fun as sharing it with others at a party. This is also the reason why Halloween is my favorite holiday. As a child, it was my favorite for the spooky movies and decorations and of course what kid doesn’t live getting free candy, but as I got older the joy transferred almost entirely to the aspect of costumes. They don’t even have to be scary anymore. I just like seeing the creativity of myself and others in the art of the costume.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?
S.C.: Haunted Houses and carving pumpkins. From my teenage years until late in my 20s, I was a huge scaredy cat at haunted houses. That was part of the fun though. I enjoyed those jump scares and cowering behind friends as we walked through the dark corridors; it helped me get into the spirit of the season. I never understood the guys (or girls) who went in and talked back at the characters in the house or were proud that nothing scared them. I didn’t understand the point of going if you weren’t going to let yourself be vulnerable to the fear. It’s like watching a horror movie and expecting it to be unscary.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween memory?
S.C.: There is a gray area during high school, when you still want candy, but society starts saying you’re too old to be trick or treating. It’s also just before you start getting into trouble at “drinking” parties. My solution to this limbo stage was to turn my home into a haunted house for younger trick or treaters.
My brother and I had a great set up for this. He would sit on a chair at the front door in a costume that made him look like a stuffed scarecrow. Newspaper coming out sleeves and shirt buttons. Kids would be hesitant to approach the door for candy, rightly assuming the scarecrow would jump at them. But my brother never moved a muscle. Parents would assure the kids the figure was just a dummy or older kids would even poke him to prove it. Still my brother waited patiently. After the doorbell was rung and my mom gave out candy, only then would he jump from the chair and scare them. Kids and families would retreat and get to the driveway to laugh and catch their breathe at the good scare…. Then, I would come from the backyard and get them a second time with a fake chainsaw that made noise. We did that two or three years in a row. Good memories!
Meghan: What are you superstitious about?
S.C.: In a way, I’m superstitious about everything. Not in a fearful way though. I believe that everything in life happens for a reason and the universe/unseen world is always communicating with us through signs and events. So if something strange happens to me, I tend to analyze what the deeper meaning may be.
Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?
Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?
S.C.: Cliché, but I’ll go with Jack the Ripper because the various theories on his identity fascinate me.
Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?
S.C.: Bloody Mary. Mirrors have always been mysterious objects to me. I remember a high school birthday, maybe sixteen; I had friends over and they pulled that nonsense of summoning her in my bathroom mirror. Well, it’s all well and good until everyone goes home and I’m alone wondering if someone of something is going to appear later in the night and kill me.
Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?
S.C.: I am no longer fascinated by serial killers in the way I was as a youth. As a teen though, I really enjoyed Silence of the Lambs—I dressed as Hannibal Lecter for junior year—and so cannibals became my obsession in serial killers.
Being the rebellious teen I was, not only did I want to be unique in my fashion and music, I wanted my serial killers to be obscure as well. Since everyone knew Dahmer as a cannibal, I researched people like Albert Fish, Peter Stumpp, and the Vampire of Dusseldorf.
If you enjoy serial killers and heavy metal, I cannot recommend this band enough: Macabre.
Macabre has been around for thirty something years, I think, and there songs contain so much info on what these monsters did. Hard to pick a favorite album but Murder Metal is probably my favorite.
As an adult, I feel very different about these monsters. I’m glad I learned about the serial killers at the time, but I no longer want to buy merchandise or dress up like them even for Halloween.
Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie?
S.C.: Not sure what the first was, but I will tell you that I distinctly remember the endings of Friday the 13th and Prince of Darkness. Around when I was 12 or 13, I think. Just when I thought the movie was over—Bam! Jason pulling her into the lake and the melted face of the girl in bed had me off the couch and running from my room before the credits.
Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?
S.C.: We Need to Talk About Kevin. I was always nervous about having kids. Being responsible for the creation of life and ensuring that this human grows up to be…. Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? Are you responsible for what your child becomes? We Need to Talk About Kevin put the final nail in the coffin when it came to me wanting to have children. Terrifying though not a novel all will consider horror.
Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?
S.C.: Again, I may have a response that isn’t quote horror, although it was violent. As a kid, my Grandma was watching Wisdom with Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore. I was maybe six years old at the time and walked in during the ending scene when the Bonnie & Clyde duo is riddled with bullets. I had never seen people killed in movie before except for Disney and it’s not the same when Bambi’s mom dies or Ursula turns someone into a seaweed person. Watching their real human bodies tear open and bleed scarred me. Maybe it subconsciously spurred my fascination with blood, death, and horror. Who knows. I always remembered Emilio and Demi’s face though and when I was much older I found out what the movie was called. At the time, I had no idea what the movie was. To this day though, after learning what it was, I still have never watched it from start to finish. Just that ending as a six-year-old…
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?
S.C.: Too hard to pick a favorite, but some of my standouts over the years were The Dude from The Big Lebowski, Heath Ledger’s Joker, and Johnny Depp from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Honorable mention to Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?
S.C.: Anything by John Carpenter. His music set the stage for so many classic horror films, including Halloween that he is synonymous with the holiday for me. I love his Lost Themes album. Perfect background music if you’re handing out Halloween candy. Or writing scary stories 😉
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?
S.C.: Reese Peanut Butter Cups and Butterfinger when I was a kid. Disappointed by Candy Corn.
Learn to appreciate the darkest moments of your life. It is those moments that make our time in the light even more beautiful. S.C. Mendes is the author of numerous short stories and a fan of pen names. The anonymity helps maintain his day job as an indoctrinator of children for the state. THE CITY is the beginning of the Max Elliot saga.