Meghan: What is your favorite part of Halloween?
Daemon: To be perfectly honest, my favorite part of Halloween is the dressing up and wearing of the costumes. Of course, we all love to do this as children, and many of us love this well into our adulthood. However, I have noticed far too many people who refuse to participate in this ritual once they reach a certain age. I have heard “I don’t wear costumes” and “I don’t dress up.” To that I say, “Don’t take yourself so seriously, no one else does.” I love racking my brain trying to come up with the perfect costume and have really pulled off some winners in my day. As a boy I immediately went for the zombie which was years before they had even become cliché. Then once I discovered latex I went as a werewolf attack victim complete with chunks ripped from my neck. As I got older, I have gone with friends as Kiss, Star Trek crew, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and one time my girlfriend and I went as Titanic victim’s I was the crew member with the whistle frozen to his lips. I never took myself so seriously to even think that I wouldn’t dress up for Halloween, I couldn’t even imagine it.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?
Daemon: It would be difficult to answer this by simply stating one aspect of Halloween as there isn’t anything about the day, the season, the mood, the vibe that I dislike. For me, Halloween is the single time of the year that I have looked forward to since my earliest childhood days. Even then it was so much more than the candy, it was the sense of mystery and the feeling of the unknown. It was a mood in the air as the leaves began to change. It was the movies that were shown on the television. And of course, it was that chance to step out of ourselves and to be someone or something else for a brief moment in time. So, with that being said, my fondest memories that have transcended throughout my latter years revolve around the Halloween Party. It is the decorating of the house and the planning of the event. Then it is the costumes and the music being played and the chance to stop taking life so seriously. I have always dressed up, and I have always had a Halloween Party. When I was in fourth grade, I built a haunted house in my garage and invited my classmates over for my first annual bash. I am not bragging when I say that I scared the crap out of them, and they would still attest to that. I have been having a yearly Halloween party ever since, sometimes dressing with others in a theme, and sometimes going solo. I don’t build the Haunted house anymore, and the party itself has matured a bit since those early days. But it is still a chance to shake off the seriousness of everyday life and live in the world of imagination, of the macabre, of the supernatural. I also appreciate seeing the ever-popular naughty nurse costume as it is guaranteed that at least one of my friends is sure to walk through the door wearing one.
Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?
Daemon: It absolutely is my favorite holiday and for many reasons. Halloween is probably differently experienced depending upon where in the country you grew up, or where in the world for that matter. I grew up in northern New Jersey, home of Camp Crystal Lake and a real town called Haddonfield. Halloween comes at a time when the air has turned crisp, and the leaves have begun to rattle as they fall from the trees and are scattered up the street and across the lawn. The sun sets earlier and there is sense of mystery that seems to appear as if from nowhere. You feel it as you walk home from school and pass through the graveyard. You sense that someone is watching you and you start to walk just a little bit faster. You are guaranteed to find at least one of your favorite horror films on nearly every channel, for those of us that still watch it that way. And all this seems to grow with a heightened sense of mystery and tension as All Hallows Eve approaches. There is no other time of year that holds such wonderful apprehension as Halloween. It truly feels that if there is one day out of the year when the soul’s of the dead would be allowed to cross over into our plane, it would be on Halloween, and that is terrifyingly wonderful.
Meghan: What are you superstitious about?
Daemon: A better question would be, what am I not superstitious about, as nearly all of the old wives’ tales and warnings hold a sacred place in my heart. I would never consider walking under a ladder and can’t for the life of me imagine why anyone would. That just sounds too dangerous and an unnecessary risk that I don’t need to take. I will go to great lengths to make sure that I handle all mirrors with extreme caution as I am a firm believer in luck and wouldn’t want to jinx myself. I don’t sleep on my left side if I can at all help it and hope that my heart appreciates the strides, I take for it. Black cats? Well, I have owned a few but that was before I had any say as to the pets that were allowed in the house. Now I have one cat that is orange with black and tan stripes, however, if I see one outside, I will inadvertently turn away so that it doesn’t cross my path, if I can help it. I won’t say Bloody Mary three times into the mirror with a candle burning. I won’t say Candy Man either. For that matter, I don’t think I would repeat Beetlejuice any more than twice. Why risk it? That guy would just end up trashing the house or doing something potentially worse.
Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?
Daemon: My favorite horror monster or villain is Frankenstein’s monster. Although let me clarify this, I am a fan of the original masterpiece written by Mary Shelley. Although I love Boris Karloff the book is the classic that gave birth to the modern horror novel and is so much more than a monster story. Victor Frankenstein has figured a way to bring life to his creation. He has dedicated himself to this task and is finally successful in doing so only to find he is repulsed by his creation and realizes that he must destroy it. The creature is unaware as a newborn and cannot fathom why the one who gave him life hates him and wants nothing to do with him. So, the creature fleas and learns to survive and understand the language. But Victor’s own hatred and loathing continues to consume him, and he goes to great lengths to hunt and kill the creature. Perhaps I should say that Victor is my favorite villain, and the creature is my favorite misunderstood monster, as monsters often are.
I won’t give any more away, and if you have not read it, I urge you to do so. It was written when Mary Shelley, her husband Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron decided that they would each write a terrifying tale. Mary was the only one to finish a story and the horror world was never the same. There are huge symbolic meanings to be found in the book, as a parent chooses to destroy their own creation of innocence. One cannot help but feel for the creature and detest the man. So, hats off to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the original Goth Girl.
Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?
Daemon: I am fascinated by mysterious disappearances. One that I have found particularly intriguing, and one would certainly be likely to assume that murder had been involved in some way, was the disappearance of the crew of the Mary Celeste. The ship was found adrift in the Atlantic Ocean on Dec. 4, 1872, under partial sail with its lifeboats missing. The ship was stocked and in functioning condition, but the crew had vanished. The cargo had been denatured alcohol, and the captain and crew’s belongings had been undisturbed. There was a hearing to try to determine the possible cause of the crew’s disappearance which had discussed mutiny, giant squid, supernatural intervention, and even the possibly that the crew had been overcome by the fumes from the alcohol. It has remained a mystery and a cause for great speculation, and it is one story that we will never know the answer to.
Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?
Daemon: I hate the one where if you are driving down the road at night and someone is headed toward you with their high beams on. Of course, we are all going to flash them our own so that they will turn theirs off, or will we? I am not so sure that I do that myself. I have heard the urban legend about how they turn around and follow you home, and then… I hate that one, scares the crap out of me and now I have to squint when someone forgets to turn their high beams off because I don’t want to get butchered in my own driveway. I really wish I never heard that one and simply don’t go out at night because I don’t want to be put into that situation. I prefer to sit behind my laptop and think up ways to scare other people. That’s how I get a good night sleep and avoid the hazards of driving at night.
Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?
Daemon: I must say that I do not idolize any real serial killers and do not have a favorite. However, I am a huge fan of the made-up ones and would have to say that Dexter takes the prize. He has a code, a purpose and he is doing the world a service. Yes, he is batshit crazy and often a bit to sloppy and show-offy, but when you got it, flaunt it. Although his first few seasons were far better than the latter, I am optimistic for the new installment and will be watching my favorite blood spatter analyst.
Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie?
Daemon: I was ten years old when I saw the movie Halloween. And what a truly awesome flick to be my first real horror movie. I hadn’t been allowed to see it in the theaters and this was when HBO took about a year before movies were aired. I slept over my friend’s house and watched it the very first night it came on. This was the first time that a movie killer got up and disappeared after he had been shot… six times. Now it is expected for a villain, creature monster to continue on after they have died. But in 1978, 79 when I had seen it, we were all seeing it for the very first time. This was groundbreaking stuff, and it was frightening as hell. When Michael sat up at the top of the stairs and came after a young Jamie Lee, you felt it. I still feel much the same when I revisit this movie years later. The remakes didn’t do it for me and the only sequel I cared for was Halloween two. This is what I want from a horror movie, I want to be scared for the first time and I want it to be fresh, not a rehash of the same gimmick.
Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?
Daemon: The most unsettling novel I have read would be Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. The story of several writers who have agreed to stay in an old sealed off theater find themselves in a very desperate situation. Convinced that once they are rescued there will be movies and stories made of their adventure, they begin to cause themselves great harm to show that they have truly suffered through the ordeal. They each write short stories that are peppered throughout the tale, one more disturbing than the next. However, there is one that stands out in my mind and is forever seared into my memory banks. It is a crazy tale about a boy who loses several feet of his intestines while performing an act he calls pegging. Does this ring any bells for any of you? It is an insane tale and if you got the ‘Guts’ I suggest you read it.
Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?
Daemon: Night of the Living Dead. I had convinced my father to let me stay up and watch it as it came on at 11 on a Friday night. I was still quite young, and he had stayed up with me to keep me company. It was a good thing that he had because I never would have made it through otherwise. This was either in the very late 70s or early 80s and zombies were not a part of pop culture yet. There were seven channels on the TV and we still had phones you had to dial. I know the stone age, right? But things were scarier then, if the power went out or you got stuck on the road, you were really in trouble. Also, if zombies were about to break down your doors and try to eat you, you were probably gonna get eaten… quickly. I was scared out of my mind and recall following my father up the stairs and practically into the bathroom during a commercial break. After that night I always looked at houses and rooms as to how difficult it would be to barricade them if the undead started to swarm the property. I have always had that thought in the back of my mind and have put great care into my escape plan should the dead start walking again. Now that I am older, I realize that I will most likely be one of the first to become a snack for the dead, but I think in my day I would have made a hell of a crossbow wielding force to be reckoned with.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?
Daemon: My favorite costume has to be from the time I was playing in a band. We always loved to play Halloween parties and at the bars during that time of year. One year we had decided to dress up as Kiss and play nothing but Kiss music all night. As the bass player I got to dress up as the demon, Gene Simmons. We had our make up done by a professional theatre artist and had made our own costumes. I went all out and bought a smoke machine and mini pyrotechnics that allowed me to shoot fire balls from the end of my bass and the drummer had one attached to his high hat. I used blood capsules to spit the blood that Gene was famous for. I remember playing Love Gun, Strutter, Rock n Roll all Night, and was told that people actually felt as if they had gone to a micro version of a Kiss Concert.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?
Daemon: This is an easy one. Hands down it would have to be The Monster Mash by Bobby Boris Pickett. I think I love this song because not only does it give you a great deal of information, it also asks some very serious questions. We find out that the Wolfman, Dracula and his son have all decided to attend the party along with the ghouls who appeared to have shown up just to get a jolt from the electrodes, which seems a bit local to me, but who am I judge?
There is quite the ensemble at the party, Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds. The instruments were played by the Coffin Bangers who like most musicians were always late to the party. And the sensational vocal sounds of the Crypt Kicker Five. There used to be six of them, but the lead guy thought he was better off as a solo act. I do have to wonder what kind of gigs the Crypt Kickers might find the rest of the year and imagine that the venues come rather infrequently. Not to worry though, they are playing the Mash, which happens to be a graveyard smash. If you were wondering how it grew in popularity, well, it caught on in a flash, my friend.
Perhaps the question that leaves so much to ponder is, whatever happened to the Transylvania Twist. Well, the answer is easy, It’s now the Mash. You see the song has progressed over time and what was once the Twist is now the Mash. Times change, fads fade, and the world moves on. Easy Igor, you impetuous you boy.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?
Daemon: Another easy one. Reese’s peanut butter cups are the greatest candy ever invented and covers all of your five basic food groups. It is the perfect snack at anytime of year.
The biggest disappointment to find in my trick-or-treat bag would be the Mary Jane. I don’t even know what this candy is pretending to be, but if it is going for disgusting, it has certainly hit the mark. I would rather you toss me a rotten apple or a handful of pennies than you even come close to my bag with one of those vile putrid excuse for a candy.
Meghan: Thanks for stopping by, Daemon. Before you go, what are your top two books and movies for Halloween?
Daemon: Wow, and you ask me for only two. Well as you can see by the rest of the interview, I don’t like to hold back so hear you go.
First here are my books that should be read during the Halloween season.
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury — Something Wicked This Way Comes is the story that first filled me with a sense of wonder and mystery and fright for the supernatural. It reminds me of how Halloween felt as a child and each sentence is crafted like a masterpiece. The paragraphs are works of art, the language is impeccable. This is the true definitive tale of the supernatural and the story that inspired them all.
Abigail by Daemon Manx — I recommend Abigail for all those who have ever found themselves thinking or feeling different than others. If you have ever been picked on or mistreated or made to feel less than. This creepy tale of what one man finds on his doorstep may not be what you expect to read. But never judge a book by its cover, a lesson that we all could stand to relearn.
And here are my books that should be watched at Halloween.
Halloween — John Carpenter’s original for obvious reasons. Don’t be fooled by cheap imitations and don’t settle for anything but the pure stuff. This 1978 horror classic still freaks me out, enough said.
Night of the Living Dead — George Romero’s classic taught us that the undead will eat you if they get their hands on you. Barricade your windows and seal up your doors. They’re Coming to Get You Barbera. The remake of this wasn’t all that bad either but nothing compares to the feel of the black n white picture and that claustrophobic sense of isolation.
Daemon Manx writes horror and speculative fiction. He is a member of the Horror Authors Guild (HAG) and has had stories featured in magazines in both the U.S. and the U.K. His short story, The Dead Girl, became a finalist in The Green Shoe Sanctuary’s summer writing prompt contest in August 2021. His debut novelette, Abigail, was released through Terror Tract Publishing and has received 4.8 stars out of 5 on Amazon and Goodreads. He lives with his sister and their narcoleptic cat Sydney in a remote cabin off the grid, where they patiently prepare for the apocalypse. There is a good chance there they will run out of coffee.
Strange things come in small packages. Adrian Billard believes he knows what it’s like to be different, and has nearly given up hope of ever finding happiness. But, a strange package left on his doorstep is about to turn his entire world upside down. Everything Adrian thinks he knows is about to change. He is about to meet…Abigail.