Halloween is an ancient festival that celebrates the end of summer and the beginning of winter, linked to the cycle of the seasons and the agricultural harvest. Some have associated it with the ritual feasts of ancient Rome dedicated to the goddess of fruits and seeds Pomona, or the anniversary of the dead which was called Parentalia. But the most frequent association of its origin is that linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, originally from ancient Ireland. According to this Ancient medieval tradition on Halloween it is possible to enter into communication with the souls of the dead, and this over time has created the traditional association of Halloween with macabre and supernatural masks.
The word Halloween, which originally meant “night of all holy spirits” in a Scottish variant, probably comes from the story of Jack o ‘Lantern. Jack was a cunning drunk blacksmith who managed in life to prevent the devil from taking his soul. When he died he was rejected by both heaven and hell, and was condemned by Satan to wander the world in the dim light of a hollowed-out lantern: to hallow in English means to dig.
Around the year 840 the pope replaced the pagan feast with an official recurrence in the Christian calendar, the feast of All Saints on November 1st. But the tradition of Halloween revived in the United States thanks to Irish immigrants in the mid-nineteenth century. In the last years of the twentieth century, the festival lost its original meaning and was transformed in Anglo-Saxon countries into a consumerist type costume party.
Throughout the Halloween holiday, there is the custom of using costumes that could be defined as carnivalesque, but which differ from them for a significant tendency to the macabre and monstrous, a custom deeply rooted in the English-speaking nations. Costumes were first used on the night of October 31, 1585 in Scotland. The practice of wearing monstrous costumes on Halloween night would derive from the belief that, on the night of October 31, numerous supernatural beings and the souls of the dead have the ability to walk the Earth among the living.
In North America this practice was first recorded in 1911, when a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario, published an article in which it quoted some boys who had walked in disguise on the streets of the city. In the early twentieth century, the practice of disguise was almost nil among adults. The costumes were made in house and the makeup remained in the Gothic style.
Beginning in the 1930s, some American companies began producing Halloween costumes on a commercial scale, which began to be purchased in grocery stores and children’s stores. The most used characters were vampires, zombies, monsters, skeletons, witches and ghosts. Over the years, superheroes and aliens have been added to these characters. There was a fashion among adults to wear erotic and skimpy costumes.
Halloween from a spiritual point of view
Halloween is a recurrence that revolves around death, spirits, witchcraft, violence, devils and evil. In action to the growing appeal of the holiday, some religious fundamentalists and some conservative evangelical churches have resorted to handouts and comics to turn Halloween into an evangelical occasion. The Christian world opposes the Halloween celebrations, believing that paganism, the occult, cultural phenomena and associated practices are incompatible with the Christian faith.
Some Christians, particularly the descendants of Celtic individuals, from whom Halloween is derived, do not give it an unfavorable meaning, seeing it simply as a non-religious celebration committed to commemorating “imaginary ghosts” and sourcing sugary foods. For these Christians, Halloween poses no danger to children’s spiritual lives – the death and beliefs of Celtic ancestors can be a legitimate life lesson and part of their parishioners’ cultural heritage. In the Catholic Church of the United States, there are those who think that Halloween has a connection with Christianity.
Father Gabriele Amorth, exorcist of the Catholic diocese of Rome, said that “to commemorate Halloween is to offer a hosanna to the devil. Who, if loved, even just for one night, believes he can boast rights over the person “. The Archdiocese of Boston actually threw a party to trace Halloween back to its Christian roots as an event of the night before All Saints’ Day or All Hallows Eve.
Halloween Movie Marathon
Here are 6 titles, selected from the movies not to be missed, for a film marathon on Halloween night.
The classic of the classics of Halloween: the film by John Carpenter Halloween. Made on a small budget and with little-known actors, Halloween has become one of the most successful independent films in film history, creating an astonishing number of sequels. The story of Michael Myers is known to the general public: Michael is a mentally ill boy hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital who killed his sister on Halloween night as a child. The day before Halloween many years later he manages to escape from the psychiatric institute where he is hospitalized: a long trail of blood spreads in the small town where he was born … Halloween was the greatest success of slasher cinema that in the 70s, a genre much loved by young audiences. In slasher films, the protagonists are always boys in danger because of an evil supernatural being or a serial killer: usually those who drink, take drugs or have compulsive sex are the first to die.
Silent Night, Bloody Night
Another cinematic pearl, a must-see cult film perfect to watch on Halloween night. Unreleased in Italy, shot for about $ 300,000 with a style similar to John Carpenter’s Halloween, but much less known. Theodore Gershuny’s Silent Night, Bloody Night begins with the sale of a house formerly used as an asylum. One of the mentally ill, now hospitalized in another institution, does not like the arrival of the new owners. Ordinary people who hide terrible secrets in a slasher movie with a very intricate plot, which makes extensive use of moving subjects, with the camera by hand, from the point of view of the murderer. The character of Sheriff’s daughter Diane gives an originality to the film that makes it different from others: people are not what they seem and hide dark secrets, as in the best films of Dario Argento.
One of Roger Corman’s best films, with a very young Jack Nicholson at the beginning of his career. Lieutenant Duval has lost his Regiment and lands along the Baltic Sea coast where he meets a fascinating and mysterious woman on the beach. Shortly after the woman vanishes and the lieutenant tries to find her in every way until he reaches the castle of Baron Von Leppe, played by the icon of horror cinema Bela Lugosi. From the large paintings hanging on the walls of the castle, the woman met by the lieutenant seems to be the baron’s wife, who died years earlier. A gothic horror on the theme of black magic and on the control of the physical body by evil entities. The old witch who lives in a shack near the castle is a black sorceress accused of practicing the phenomenon of mesmerism.
An avant-garde film from the mid-1920s, written and directed by Swedish director Benjamin Christiansen, is a great masterpiece of enormous artistic value, provably one of the most beautiful films in the history of cinema, and not just horror cinema. Halfway between documentary and fiction, between essay and gothic film, Christiansen invents linguistic models that would only arrive many years later, in the avant-garde of the 60s such as the Nouvelle Vague, with directors such as Jean-Luc Godard. We move with incredible ease from the almost didactic analysis of texts on witchcraft to satanic sabbath scenes shot with visual mastery and an editing rhythm that dwarfs Tim Burton’s best film. Extraordinary special effects for the time, witches flying on brooms, human sacrifices. Faces of desperate old men, accused by priests of being devil worshipers, filmed with a realism and desperation rare in the history of cinema. Haxan is one of those moments in which the history of films meets the history of art, and becomes something unique and inimitable. The director also enjoys playing the role of Satan. It is the only film made by Benjamin Christiansen, who will subsequently open a cinema and devote himself to the activity of exhibitor.
An English independent film dealing with the theme of reincarnation. Raf, a 26-year-old young man, has a guided regression experience in a past life of his where he learns that he was a cynical Nazi commander during the world war. To try to answer his questions, he embarks on a journey with his friends in search of those places he saw in the regression. But a showdown awaits him with his karmic debt. A horror that explores the themes of reincarnation and Karma, together with lesser known concepts such as those of the Akashic registers: registers where all the human actions of the world, present, past and future, are kept by the gods.
Night of the Living Dead
We close the list with a great classic of horror cinema that inaugurated the Zombie Movie genre: Night of the Living Dead by George Romero. A man and woman, along with 5 other people, are trapped in a house near the Pennsylvania cemetery. Due to mysterious radiations coming from the planet Venus, the dead come out of the graves and come back to life with cannibalistic instincts. Any person who is bitten turns into a living dead. Low-cost film that marked a turning point in horror cinema, taken by Romero out of the studios and out of the conventions of mainstream cinema. It is a bitter film that behind the horror genre hides the vision of the end of the American myth: the protagonist is in fact a black man, an unthinkable protagonist in the cinema industry in 1968. Costing just over $ 100,000, it grossed more than 5 million. . There is a colorized version. A film followed by countless remakes that in 1968 conquered the audience of fans of the horror genre becoming a cult film.