Last weekend, I celebrated Halloween. No, I didn’t wander out into the night to create mischief and mayhem (although I did find myself standing in line at the grocery store buying both eggs and toilet paper, oddly enough). I didn’t wait by my front door with a bucket of candy -- the good stuff, not Tootsie Rolls and toothbrushes. I didn’t even dress up as a sexy fill-in-the-blank, since almost any revealing outfit can be justified with devil horns and a little extra eye makeup … case in point, I have a friend who attended a party as a sexy zombie. She said she wanted people’s first reactions to be “Ew, that’s hot.”
I rang in All Hallow’s Eve the old-fashioned way. I watched horror movies. On Friday night I viewed the original “Psycho” with someone my age who had never seen it before. Here’s the kicker: not only had he never seen it, but he also had no idea, not even the faintest whispered rumor, of what was going to happen. It was priceless. Of course, the rest of us watching baited him terribly (no pun intended). Whenever we heard the “mother” voice, we made comments like, “His mom’s a real bitch,” or “Isn’t she terrible to him?”
Halfway through the show, my friend turned to me and said, in all earnestness, “Do you ever get to see the old woman’s face?” And I was like, “Um …. yes …. as a matter of fact, you do!” When the final reveal in the fruit cellar occurred, he simply said, “Whoah!” I asked him if he truly didn’t see any of that coming, and he replied, “Not in a movie this old.” And it’s true. Back then we didn’t have a nightly celebration, courtesy of 15 versions of Law and Order and CSI, of seriously damaged people who commit gruesome crimes and end up being fascinating as well as freakish.
Ah, that Alfred Hitchcock. He knew how to thrill. The two movies I watched on Saturday, however, weren’t as good. Well, they were good in their own special way, much like a car wreck. They were terrible, but you couldn’t look away. One was an unbelievably bizarre 1970 flick starring Sandra Dee and Dean Stockwell that had something to do with a warlock, some weird chants, a Rosemary’s Baby-ish theme, and a crazy monster with tentacles that you were never actually allowed to see.
The other was a 1958 movie called “The Horror of Dracula” starring Christopher Lee. It basically featured Dracula lurking around the neighborhood preying on hapless women who left their windows open at night, while good ol’ Van Helsing tried to catch him sleeping in his coffin during the day. Part of the story line involved a woman who was bitten and converted to vampirism but was later cured and returned to the husband who’d never given up hope that she would recover. He’d even given her a blood transfusion after Drac just about sucked the life out of her neck.
What struck me most about the story wasn’t the idea of true love overcoming all odds. It was the idea that, because of his devotion, that guy had earned himself the ultimate argument-ender. For the rest of their married lives, he had something to hold over her head that was just awesomely unbeatable.
It wasn’t “Remember the time you gained 20 pounds and I stuck around?” or “Remember when your grandmother died and I took three days off work to drive you to the funeral?” or “Hey, remember when I agreed to quit school and move across the country just to be with you?” It wasn’t even “Don’t forget, I gave you a kidney.”
It was “Remember the time you were undead? Yeah. That was me by your side.” I imagine the conversations would go something like this:
“Honey, did you take the trash out?”
“No, but you were a vampire.”
“Well, do you think you could turn off the football game?”
“Do you think you could not have been a vampire?”
“Are you listening to me?”
Not even Hitchcock could come up with a scheme that diabolical.