This flip originally appeared on VICE Australia. Halloween is the time for state-sanctioned spookiness. It's the time of year where parents can cover their homes in giant spiders, and send their children to literally take candy from strangers. Halloween isn't in line with other social norms, but that's why it's fun. It's a time to let our hair down. To bring a little darkness into our stevia-sweetened lives.
But at what point does the darkness get too much? At what point do spooky decorations become concerning decorations? And at what point do neighbors call the cops because they're pretty sure they're living next door to a serial killer?
Let's find out!
Five Days Before Halloween
This is my house. I'm hanging plastic spider webs and plastic jack-o'-lanterns in my lavender bush because they're the most basic decorations in the world. This is how I'll start, and just ramp it up a little every day.
Four Days Before Halloween
The next day, my friend Simon and I made actual jack-o'-lanterns. We carved one butternut squash and one kent squash, for anyone wondering. Then I painted some spooky blood pouring out of Kent's eyes.
Here's one for the Radiohead fans: It's Simon's butternut carving, whittled into one of those Radiohead monkey things with the teeth. Then we lit the candles, which flickered as the evening wind began to blow. Things were coming along nicely.
Three Days Before Halloween
It was time to switch gears. That meant ditching the traditional Halloween ghost, vampires, and Michael Jackson mythology for something that's actually scary and actually exists in suburbia: serial killers.
I found this old mattress in an alley behind the house and covered it in fake blood. Also, big thanks to the 90s show TV Nation for the idea. Then I put the bloody mattress out with the garbage and waited to see what would happen.
The next morning, around 6 AM, I watched the garbage guy pause at the mattress for about one second before he shrugged and grabbed my garbage. "Hey!" I yelled, stepping out from behind the lavender. "Do you think the mattress is spooky?" The garbage guy gave me a look. "Nah, dude, I've seen worse." He wouldn't take the mattress because it was too big.
Two Days Before Halloween
It was time to get down to business. So I went to the store and got myself two pigs' heads from the butcher. Guess how much a pig's head costs? It's $5! Apparently, the market for pigs' heads has really gone down the toilet.
I put the first guy on a stake.
I put the second head on the gate post, but again, no one was scared. These are some Airbnb guests from next door who had no prior knowledge of my general character. For all they knew, this was what I was like 24/7, 365 days of the year. But they didn't care. They just kept pointing at the head and laughing. Even when I turned off the house lights and walked down the street I could see people stopping and laughing. One couple took a selfie with the head on a stake. It was strange.
When this kid came over I started to wonder: Is this how serial killers get away with it? Is this how people live next door to weirdos who dig holes at midnight and wear trench coats in summer without anyone ever asking questions? I appreciate the human instinct for total non-curiosity, but I was surprised. It seemed I could do anything, and no one would care. In fact, people would like it.
The Last Day Before Halloween
On the last day before Halloween, I made a sign from a bed sheet. I then found a Spotify playlist of nursery rhymes and cranked it loud.
Then I hung this outside my house. I watched through the blinds as people walked past. Some took photos. Some smiled. Lots frowned. I turned the nursery rhymes up louder. No one knocked, and no one called the police.
These guys live across the street. Again, they weren't concerned about the sign but just curious as to why I was so into Halloween. "It's for an article I'm writing," I explained, wanting to squash the idea that I'm a 31-year-old who just LOVES Halloween. "Oh," said the dad. "We saw the pigs' heads, and we thought, This guy is obsessed with Halloween."
It got dark and still nothing happened. It started to rain. By around 10:00 PM, I got sick of lurking around and went to bed. It's Halloween as I'm writing this. My decorations are still all up, and tonight actual children will come to my house and ask for candy. This seems weird, and I didn't expect to actually need candy. I'd better buy some after work.
So I'm not sure what the moral of the story is. Maybe the moral is that if you're a serial killer, Halloween is a great time to relax. Dig that hole in your own good time. Give the person in your basement some outdoor hours in the yard. Halloween is a time for fun, after all.