Meghan: Hey Christine! Welcome back. As always, we love to have you here. What is your favorite part of Halloween?
Christine: The weeks leading up to it, when all the good stuff starts hitting the shelves, the Halloween stores appear overnight like mushrooms, the various cooking channel shows like Halloween Wars and Halloween Baking Championship, the horror-themed episodes of shows such as Forged in Fire, there are horror movie marathons. Also, the half-off sales in the days after.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?
Christine: Trick-or-treating, seeing all the costumes, the fun and excitement, people really getting into it, the kids, the parents. These past few years haven’t been the best for that, partly because of living in the upstairs unit of an apartment complex that didn’t see much trick-or-treat traffic. This year, however, I’ve moved into what was my grandparents’ house, in an established neighborhood with community activities, so I’m optimistic (aside from the damn pandemic, that is).
Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?
Christine: Just always been a spooky weirdo at heart! Didn’t hurt that my dad was always a kind of closeted weirdo, with Halloween being the one time he could cut loose. Later in life, he’d come out and go nuts as a Civil War reenactor, but before that, dressing up and having fun on Halloween was his favorite thing. I remember one year, he went as Jesus — he already had long hair and a full beard — and we used red nail polish instead of fake blood for the wounds, which is a helpful trick I’ve never forgotten.
Meghan: What are you superstitious about?
Christine: I’m into folklore, so I’ve picked up several of the little habits over the years, if not to the full point of observing or following them, at least to the point of feeling uncomfortable letting them go unacknowledged. I knock on wood, I toss salt over my shoulder, when I first see the moon at night I say the little rhyme I learned somewhere as a kid, that sort of thing. Except for black cats crossing my path; I have no problem with that. Black cats got a bad rap, very undeserved.
Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?
Christine: Of the movie classics, always had a soft spot for the Gillman. He wasn’t bothering anybody, just swimming around in his lagoon, until arrogant know-it-all humans came along to interfere. Then HE got the blame. I tend to sympathize with those kind of “monsters,” who are just doing their own thing. Even sharks. We go into their environment, then get upset when they do what’s only natural? So bogus.
Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?
Christine: Unlike many in my middle-aged white woman demographic, I don’t seem to have as much obsessive fascination for serial killers, unsolved crimes, and murder shows. If it counts, though, I really want to know what’s up with all those severed feet that keep washing ashore. Why just the feet? Is it the shoes? Where’s the rest of the bodies? What’s happening out there?
Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?
Christine: After the previous question, this is going to seem even stranger, but, the one where gang members, as part of their initiation, would hide under a lady’s car in a dark parking lot and then slash her Achilles tendon and steal her shoes as proof. Maybe it’s that I can imagine it all too vividly. Even as I type this, I shifted my feet up onto the coffee table, though I know damn well there’s nobody under the couch with a straight razor. Also, that was the scene in the original Pet Sematary movie to freak me out the most.
Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?
Christine: See above, was never all that into them the way a lot of people are. The old-timey ones, though, like H.H. Holmes with his entire murder hotel, or the angel-of-death types, nurses who’d smother patients in the belief it was putting them out of their misery and doing the right thing.
Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?
Christine: It probably wasn’t the first I ever saw, but the first movie to scare the crap out of me as a kid was that old black and white sci-fi Invaders From Mars. The sand whirlpools were bad, but the people with the alien takeover staples in their necks… legit gave me nightmares. There was a DVD of it among my late uncle’s movie collection and I kept it for nostalgia, but have no intention of watching it! As for books, my grandfather kept a shelf of horror paperbacks in the garage (Grandma didn’t want them in the house), so I’d browse those whenever we visited. Lots of nature-run-amok books, killer critters, but I still have the copy of The Shining I found out there when I was ten.
Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?
Christine: I read, and dearly love, a lot of sick, sick, wrong, evil, grotesque, extreme horror. And yet, none of them have gotten under my skin a fraction so much as I Am Not Sam, by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee. So subtle. So masterful. It lets/makes your own mind do all the work, with results far more traumatizing and horrifying than if the scenes were spelled out on the page.
Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?
Christine: Again, see above, Invaders From Mars when I was little. Lately, I’ve been viewing too many cinematic masterpieces suggested by Edward Lee, and if “stabbed me in the eyes and gave me brain-damage” sheer WTF-ery counts as being scarred for life, well, I now have a whole list. Such as Birdemic and House Shark. Also The Greasy Strangler, though I can’t blame Lee for that one; if anything, he should blame me, even if it was Gina Ranalli who told me about it in the first place.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?
Christine: One year, Dad went as Captain Hook and I was Peter Pan (the chonky little girl version) and my baby sister was Tinkerbell. I love it when people coordinate their costumes like that, and the whole family gets into it. My craft and makeup skills may be pretty good, but my sewing skills are basically nonexistent, so I am somewhat hampered in that regard.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?
Christine: Forever a soft spot in my heart for Thriller, I gotta say. I am old enough to remember rushing home from school to turn on MTV and wait anxiously for the video’s world premiere. The Vincent Price bit is perfection. And, hokey though it is, I love how the zombie dance permeated the entire culture.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?
Christine: The fun-size 100,000 Dollar Bars. Full-size ones are too hard to eat before they melt and get all messy. Fun-size Twix, too. I’m a fan of the fun-size because then I can tell myself it’s not like I’m eating a whole candy bar, right? So I can then eat like six of them and it’s still all good. Also, because it seems to come up every year, I am pro-candy corn. Yes, it tastes like sugary wax and leaves a filmy coating in your mouth, but, you can tuck them under your upper lip like vampire teeth and that’s what matters. As for disappointing, anything with coconut or licorice is a hard NOPE from me.
Meghan: As always, Christine, it has been a pleasure. Before you go, though, what are your op Halloween movies?
Christine: I may lose some horror cred for this, but when I think of Halloween movies, the first place my mind goes is Tim Burton. The Nightmare Before Christmas, obviously. Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride. Even stuff like Edward Scissorhands (Vincent Price again, yay!) and Sweeney Todd. Okay, so maybe a mad crush on Johnny Depp has something to do with it — my own, I mean, not Tim Burton’s, though you know he totally has one. And as long as I’m losing horror cred anyway, I’ll go ahead and say I liked Halloween 3. It didn’t belong in the franchise, and should have had a different title, but on its own, it’s a neat premise/idea and lots of fun.
Christine Morgan recently quit her night-shift job and moved from rainy Portland to sunny Southern California to help out her mom and hopefully make a plunge as a full-time writer. Several months later, she’s still reeling from the culture shock of adjusting to daytime life, but finally has a real office/library full of bookshelves and critter skeletons, as well as a dinosaur-themed bedroom. Because she is a) a grown up and b) a professional.