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Is Halloween too Creepy?

A friend and I were chatting the other day about Halloween creepiness. Her girls, one elementary schooler and one preschooler, won't step foot in some stores -- and not just The Party Store, which was all decked out in Halloween creep. She's talking Giant Food and Michael's, where the gross factor was just too disturbing.

Unlike those girls, some kids -- and parents -- thrive on gruesome and scary for Halloween. Think haunted houses, movies like "Halloween" and "dead" bodies jumping out of caskets as the little kiddies go up to the front door.

If you're more on the gruesome side of the fence, Boston.com's taken a stab at the scariest movies of all time to help you select some to share with your offspring.

And, of course, if your kids can't stand the creep factor, don't worry. The Christmas decorations have already started replacing the ghost netting and skeletons.

Where do you and your kids stand? Do you like or abhor Halloween gruesomeness? Will you be taking advantage of the weekend observance to show some late-night scary flicks? If so, which ones?

Accepting Candy Donations

One another note, come Saturday morning, that Halloween loot might truly be a scary amount. If that's the case and you want to lighten the sugar load, try donating some of it.

In Maryland, a local moms' community group called MoverMoms is collecting all kinds of wrapped candy to send to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The group drove a pickup-truck load of sweet stuff to the National Armory in West Virginia last year to give to Boatsie's Boxes. Boatsie's packs the candy in more than 11,000 Christmas stockings that go to soldiers of all faiths in all branches of the military in time for the holidays.

If you're in Maryland, drop-off times and places are:

* Walt Whitman High School (Whittier Boulevard in Bethesda) -- Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School (driveway on East-West Highway) -- Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

* A home at 7101 Loch Lomond Dr., Bethesda -- anytime from Oct. 31 to Nov. 5.

* A home at 11110 Candlelight Lane, Potomac -- anytime from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4.

Outside of Maryland, you can contact local charities that support the military to see if they are accepting candy donations.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

By Stacey Garfinkle |  October 31, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
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Comments


personally i don't think it's creepy, i'm one of those 'gotta love blood gust and gore' kinda girls!

as a child trick or treatin we had a neighbor that would decorate his driveway as a mini haunted house and if you wanted the candy you HAD to walk through. scared the jonkers out of me and i loved it!!

Posted by: nall92 | October 31, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

I don't think it's too creepy, except when young girls try too hard to look trampy. Or when high school seniors don't bother to dress up.

I just realized this morning that we still have some Halloween candy left over from last year. Now, that's scary.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 31, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

personally i don't think it's creepy, i'm one of those 'gotta love blood gust and gore' kinda girls!

as a child trick or treatin we had a neighbor that would decorate his driveway as a mini haunted house and if you wanted the candy you HAD to walk through. scared the jonkers out of me and i loved it!!

Posted by: nall92 | October 31, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse


Thank you, Amy Winehouse.

Posted by: jezebel3 | October 31, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Oh no, I forgot to buy the candy for tonight!

Posted by: ishgebibble | October 31, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Losing your memory - that's truly scary!

Posted by: ishgebibble | October 31, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Workingmomx - I agree about the "trampy" costumes, for some reason, seeing a six-year old dressed in a lowcut top, short skirt and trashy hairdo just really rubs me the wrong way. If I had girls I'd never let them dress like that.

I actually was glad to see the info about sending candy to soldiers. In my area, the local dentists and orthodontists pay kids if they turn in their halloween candy, and then throw it away. What a waste. Good to know there is a place to send it.

Posted by: jjtwo | October 31, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

personally i don't think it's creepy, i'm one of those 'gotta love blood gust and gore' kinda girls!

as a child trick or treatin we had a neighbor that would decorate his driveway as a mini haunted house and if you wanted the candy you HAD to walk through. scared the jonkers out of me and i loved it!!

Posted by: nall92 | October 31, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse


Thank you, Amy Winehouse.


uhhhhh don't know where that came from but your welcome

Posted by: nall92 | October 31, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Stacey -- are there any MoverMoms donation sites up N of the DC 'burbs (like, say, Baltimore)? I would love to donate some of the loot. Between our kids' take and our typical leftovers, we end up with piles of candy; even though my kids eat a few pieces a week, with all the other candy that gets added (Valentine's Day, goodie bags), the pile never seems to shrink! I always feel bad on 10/30, when I go through and empty out the pumpkin to make way for the new stuff -- it's just such a waste.

And no, I don't think Halloween is too scary. None of us is real big on the blood 'n' guts 'n' gore aspect of it; each of my kids went through a Party City freakout period because of all the animatronic creepies, and neither of the adults has ever enjoyed any variety of horror films. But it's easy enough to avoid the stuff that we think is too creepy and leave that to the folks who enjoy it.

Posted by: laura33 | October 31, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I understand that people might enjoy creepiness but for those of us who don't, it just gets REALLY old. One haunted house in a neighborhood can be a lot of fun, but when I just want to go grocery shopping...

It isn't that is scares me, it disturbs me, which is entirely different. I also get tired of people who think those of us who are disturbed by it are weak or silly. It just ain't so! I have a photographic memory, so images stick with me, that's all it is.

How about if I stand in the doorway of a shop and start asking trigonometry questions, now that's frightnening! :0

Posted by: ThinkGreen | October 31, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Here's something really creepy -- the fact that Halloween celebrations in schools have become "harvest festivals" or "fall feasts" or other nonsensical pandering to the religious right. There is a house in our neighborhood that handed out religious tracts about Satan last year. We will not be stopping by there tonight.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 31, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

WorkingMomX - is that better, worse or the same as schools changing "Christmas break" to "Winter break" and refusing to mention the words "Christmas" and "Easter"? If you're gonna pander to one group, you pretty much have to pander to all of them.

(FWIW, I'm in favor of not pandering to any, but once you start down the slipper slope...)

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | October 31, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

re: creepiness

surprisingly, my 3 year old daughter is not as scared of the halloween ghosts and goblins as the insane santas that have started popping up already in the stores! give her a skeleton or moster any day, but st. nick freaks the heck out of her!! :)

Posted by: sp1103sd | October 31, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Laura33: MoverMoms is a fairly small group right now -- the organization is only two years old. I wasn't able to find a whole list of groups who accept candy donations outside of Montgomery County. MoverMoms' Rebecca Kahlenberg did mention someone in Northern Virginia who collects the candy and drives it to one of the MoverMoms locations in Maryland, though I don't know her name and location. I also tried calling National Charity Web sites to see if they had lists, but no such luck.

You're best bet may be to try the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore (http://www.rmhbaltimore.com/)

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | October 31, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

(Warning - geek moment. Skip if you don't find this sort of stuff amusing.)

The building management here hosted a "tenant breakfast" this morning. (They do that twice a year; it's coincidental that it fell on Halloween.) There were three "door prizes" which were huge baskets of candy. Those would be awarded to the three people who came closest to guessing the correct number of kernels of candy corn in a big jar.

Since we're (almost) all engineers, a few folks sat down - "hm, one kernel of candy corn weighs about one gram and has a volume of about 0.5 milliliter. (look it up. :-) That jar is about two liters and feels like it weighs about two kilograms. So by weight there should be about 2,000 kernels. By volume there should be 4,000 kernels, but that's probably air because the kernels aren't packed in tightly. So let's guess about 2,250."

Said our facilities manager: "If you think you're putting that big honkin' basket of candy on MY desk you've got another think comin'. Get it out of here, NOW!"

Now that's creepy. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | October 31, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

My five-year-old daughter was scared to two things at the halloween store: a screaming top half of a hanging man in some elaborate display, and a face monster-looking mannequin. She was screaming at the mannequin. I just calmly told her it was fake as I lead her out the store.

The creepiest thing I saw there was a costume called the "tricky d_ck." I saw the picture on front and wondered what the world was coming to.

As a child, I loved haunted houses. In college, a group of us students would go to the local haunted house; being chased through the woods by a guy with a chain saw was the best part!

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 31, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

AB -- thanks for making me feel better -- I did pi-r-squared x no. of layers for our contest. :-)

Posted by: laura33 | October 31, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

AB -- thanks for making me feel better -- I did pi-r-squared x no. of layers for our contest. :-)

Posted by: laura33 | October 31, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I have a photographic memory, so images stick with me, that's all it is.

How about if I stand in the doorway of a shop and start asking trigonometry questions, now that's frightnening! :0

Posted by: ThinkGreen | October 31, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Your photographic memory is on the fritz, you misspelled frightening. LOL!


Posted by: jezebel3 | October 31, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

AB -- thanks for making me feel better -- I did pi-r-squared x no. of layers for our contest. :-)

Posted by: laura33 | October 31, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse


What was that geeky math cheer on the OB? It was pretty funny.

Posted by: jezebel3 | October 31, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Aha, tonight's the night. When a pack of Halloweeners come to our house, I'll ask them if they want to see a trick instead of getting a treat. Tradition.

Then I'll offer to pop my eye out.

The kids go bonkers over the suggestion, every. single. one of them. It's a must see for every child.

So then I make good on my promise, pop my right eye out, and put it in a glass of water so they can take a look.

Kids love it and think its really cool. However, the adults get a little creeped out about it. Conclusion: children are much, much more accepting of the abnormal than adults.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | October 31, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

DH love all the trash horror - I don't. Younger son is trying to follow in Dad's footsteps, but still gets creeped out pretty easily. I try to be a moderating influence, but DH thinks I'm being over-protective (the only place I *ever* get that accusation!) and pushes the creepy movies and such on the boy even more than if I just keep quiet.

Older son has the best strategy, I guess. Profound disinterest. If it isn't science fiction and space-related, he's off to find something that is.

Posted by: SueMc | October 31, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Seeing christians turn against halloween is especially disturbing because the primary reason it gets celebrated (along with christmas in december) is because of their drive to convert or kill every person on earth they could. So they remade all of the traditions to come under the christian umbrella to get more converters and keep people happy. If it hadn't been for that, we wouldn't have nearly the same celebration in the numbers we do today.

And now they want to go "oh no, this is bad and evil"?

I'm fine with someone choosing not to celebrate anything in any way, just be sure you understand where it's coming from- "your" history and ancestors.

Posted by: EmeraldEAD | October 31, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Yeap, too creepy. I had the unusual pleasure as a child to have the "Wicked Witch of the west" in my house numerous times. Let me explain. As a young child, I watched the movie, "The Wizard of Oz" on TV like everybody else. Oh yes, the part with the flying monkeys was scary to me, really scary, as was watching the scenes with the Wicked Witch. But, by the time I was in the middle elementary years, we moved to a house that had an interesting neighbor that lived across the street. She was a nice lady who had happened to go to acting school years ago with Margaret Hamilton, the actress who played the witch. Well, Ms. Hamilton would visit during the summers and come to our house to have coffee with my mother. I often sat at the table and just listened for a while before running along. Anyway, I find it amazing that during those summers, I could still see the face of the witch if I looked really hard, but really, she seemed to me just a pleasant woman. However, when the "Wizard of Oz" came on TV again (as it did each year back then), yeap, I got scared anyway. Children see things differently. Halloween is creepy!

Posted by: shadwell1 | October 31, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

EmeraldEAD: Your statement about "Christians" turning against Halloween is somewhat misleading. There are a few, fairly small groups (mostly Fundamentalists/ Evangelicals) who are objecting to the celebration as Satanic. In many cases the complaints are anti-Catholic in nature; see "Chick tracts" and look up Jack Chick for the origin of many of those complaints.

The vast majority of "Christians" including Catholics see the day as a purely secular holiday, no different than say Memorial Day or July 4th.

Please don't put us all in the same boat - some of us might prefer to jump overboard. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | October 31, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

fr shadwell1:

>...we moved to a house that had an interesting neighbor that lived across the street. She was a nice lady who had happened to go to acting school years ago with Margaret Hamilton, the actress who played the witch. Well, Ms. Hamilton would visit during the summers and come to our house to have coffee with my mother. I often sat at the table and just listened for a while before running along...

Oh, there would be NO WAY I'd leave that table until Ms. Hamilton left. Did you get an autograph, or a picture? I remember hearing a story that she had been some actor's 3rd grade teacher and kicked him out of the class on more than one occasion, it MIGHT have been Burt Lancaster, but please don't quote me on that.

Posted by: Alex511 | October 31, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

WorkingMomX, we have one of those houses that hand out religious tracts about Satan in our town (population 3300) as well! Unfortunately, I keep forgetting which house it is, so my kids keep getting tracts every year. And since we're Wiccans, you know that insults both me and my kids to read these things and see how some Christian sects think we're agents of Satan, hold animal sacrifices, abuse kids, etc. One of the ones we got last night showed an upside-down pentacle, which clearly shows their ignorance about how trying to put Wiccans/Pagans and Satanists in the same category is like saying apples and oranges are the same thing! Satan is an entity of the Christian faith, so as non-Christians he's irrelevant to us. We don't proselytize (we consider it extremely rude), the main tenet of our faith is "Harm None" (which does NOT mean "Do whatever you want"-it means you have to remember how your actions have consequences on the world around you...all of them!), and we are devoted environmentalists, to the point of composting our yard and garden waste and recycling whatever can be recycled. Not to mention we're about as non-violent as you can get-heck, the closest we get to animal sacrifices is when we buy meat, poultry, or fish at the grocery store! For us, Samhain is a day to celebrate the final harvest of the year, honor our ancestors and reflect on how they influenced our lives, and say goodbye to the spirits of family, friends, pets, or important people who have crossed over during the past year. We also celebrate the secular aspects of the holiday; we decorate our house for Samhain and we let our kids go trick-or-treating every year. I don't know which is more fun, making the kids' costumes or decorating the house! This year our decorations reflected both the harvest celebration aspect of the holiday and the secular creepy fun. There's a ghost with a strobe light covered with green paper behind it, a partial hangman with a light behind it (a hangman from the waist up and no face so we don't offend anybody's race or whatever), and a cemetery with names on it. However, the cemetery is a sort of "Unsung Heroes Row," which makes it a serious tribute. Rather than gag names, I chose names of people who fought for civil rights but are largely unknown today. Del Martin, Margaret Sanger, Harvey Milk, and Sgt. Patrick Stewart are the names on the first four headstones (I'll be adding more as years go by and we get our hands on more scrap plywood).

Anyway, I digress...I don't think Halloween is too creepy...I loved the scary practical jokes we played on each other when my sister and I were kids, and I'm looking forward to doing that when mine are older, as long as they remember the serious aspects of the holiday, don't diss our ancestors, and remember to give thanks for the bounty that the Goddess and the God have blessed us with!

Posted by: dragondancer1814 | October 31, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

For Alex511,

No, I never got Ms. Hamilton's autograph or picture. My mother seemed calm about it, so I guess that's why I was too. They seemed like typical coffee visits to me at the time. Of course, that was back in the mid-late 1960's and Ms. Hamilton looked quite a bit different than she did in "The Wizard of Oz", older and no harsh makeup. She seemed very nice.

By the way, I still don't like scary movies.

Posted by: shadwell1 | October 31, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

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