Halloween is the time for state-sanctioned spookiness. It's the time for parents to cover their homes in giant spider infestations, and send out their children to 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 neighbours 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 the lavender bush because they're the most bog-standard 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 I got my mate Simon over and we made actual jack o'lanterns. One butternut and one kent, 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, whittled into one of those Radiohead monkey things with the teeth. Then we lit the candles, which flickered as a wind got up in the trees. Things were coming along nicely.
Three Days Before Halloween
It was time to change gears. That meant ditching the traditional Halloween ghost/vampire/Michael Jackson mythology for something that's actually scary and actually exists in suburbia. And that's serial killers.
I found this old mattress in an alley behind the house and covered it in fake blood. Also, hat tip to the 90s show TV Nation for the idea. Then I put the bloody mattress out with the bins and waited to see what would happen.
The next morning, about 6 AM, I watched the garbage guy pause at the mattress for about one second before he shrugged and grabbed my bins. "Hey!" I yelled, stepping out from behind the lavender. "Do you think the mattress is spooky?" The garbage guy gave me a look. "Nah mate, I've seen worse." And then he wouldn't take the mattress because it was too big.
Two Days Before Halloween
It was time for business. Real business. So I went to Vic Markets and got myself two pigs' heads from the butcher. And 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.
And I put the second guy 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 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 road. Again, they weren't concerned about the sign but just curious about why I was so into Halloween. "It's for a 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 keen.'"
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. And now as I'm writing this, it's Halloween and 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.