There must have been a thousand pumpkins on this tree, hung high and on every branch. A thousand smiles. A thousand grimaces. And twice-times-a-thousand glares and winks and blinks and leerings of fresh-cut eyes.
And as the boys watched, a new thing happened.
The pumpkins began to come alive.
One by one, starting at the bottom of the Tree and the nearest pumpkins, candles took fire within the raw interiors. This one and then that and this and then still another, and on up and around, three pumpkins here, seven pumpkins still higher, a dozen clustered beyond, a hundred, five hundred, a thousand pumpkins lit their candles, which is to say brightened up their faces, showed fire in their square or round or curiously slanted eyes. Flame guttered in their toothed mouths. Sparks leaped out their ripe-cut ears.
Sly does it. Tiptoe catspaws. Slide and creep.
But why? What for? How? Who? When! Where did it all begin?
“You don't know, do you?” asks Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud climbing out of the pile of leaves under the Halloween Tree. “You don't really know!”
“Well,” answers Tom the Skeleton, “er—no.”
In Egypt four thousand years ago, on the anniversary of the big death of the sun?
Or a million years before that, by the night fires of the cavemen?
Or in Druid Britain at the Ssssswooommmm of Samhain's scythe?
Or among the witches, all across Europe—multitudes of hags, crones, magicians, demons, devils?
Or high above Paris, where strange creatures froze to stone and lit the gargoyles of Notre Dame?
Or in Mexico, in cemeteries full of candlelight and tiny candy people on El Dia de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead?
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
24 hours have gone by, the the link to Michael Jackson I gave earlier is no more.
So I've gone back and fixed the link. Savages.
Spring and I were running around doing some last minute Halloween shopping, preparing for a gathering of friends later in the evening.
After lunch, we stopped off at Blockbuster to rent the movie for our Halloween party where we planned to MST3K a carefully choosen film—in this case, Hardware (in the imortal words of my friend Bill when we saw this in the theater when it came out—“This was so bad it was well worth the six bucks!”).
But Blockbuster was rather Lackluster in their selection of videos (they didn't even have a Science Fiction section!) we decided to try another store—Hollywood Video. A bigger selection, more sections (including a Science Fiction section) and cheaper prices. Since we weren't members, I started filling out the membership form while Spring went shopping for videos.
Why a video store needs my Social Security number I don't know (neither did I give it to them, nor did they seem to make a fuss over my non-compliance) nor why it requires me to give my zip code twice or phone number twice who knows? It was a rather silly form. When I added Spring to my account, I allowed her to rent NR (not rated), R, PG-13 and PG films, but not G. Can't have her renting G films (“I'm sorry Ms. Dew, but we can't let you rent that copy of `Marry Poppins.' You're not allowed to!”).
Video in hand, we were off. “Hey, Spring. See that car in front of us?”
“Yes, it's kind of hard to miss.”
I do love her so. “See those Chinese characters on the bumper?”
“I hope he didn't pay a lot for those—they're upside down!” One of the benefits of taking Chinese calligraphy in college—I can pick these things out, even if I can't read the actual characters.
Our next stop was Wal★Mart but to our surprise, the store down the street from us was no longer there! Abandoned! Gone! We drove around the parking lot wondering what to do when we asked a few ped-xings what happened.
“Oh, they moved across the street! Next to the Lowe's.”
“Thanks,” Spring said, and we drove off.
To the largest Wal★Mart store I've ever seen. It's one of those Wal★Mart Superstores that are the size of small Latin American countries. Walking in I felt I had reached Conspicuous Consumer Consumption Mecca. Isles and isles of merchandizing. Satelite stores lining the edge. Thousands of people dashing about buying last minute Halloween supplies. We didn't feel like spending the next few hours trying to track down the few items we needed, so we left.
Next was the supermarket to pick up some food and lovely beverages. Home. Then back to the supermarket to pick up some lovely alcoholic beverages (“I knew we were missing something when we left,” said Spring).
Then relax a bit before the evening plans start.
Hardware. In the imortal words of my friend Bill: “It was so bad it was well worth the six bucks.” Yes, we saw it in the theater when it came out in 1990. And yes, it is that bad. Very bad.
Overall, the movie doesn't know what it wants to be—it starts out post Apocalyptic (which seems to be popular with Australian directors) then shifts towards a Cyberpunk sensibility complete with techno worship and corporate conspiracies, then goes operatic with a Luciano Parvoratti singing killer Cyborg straight from The Terminator (only with six limbs and fangs—I kid you not) and finally shifts back to post Apocalyptic at the very end.
The basic plot (as much as there is one) is Moe (Dylan McDermott) buys a bag of robot parts from a nomad and gives them to his girlfriend artist Jill. Only it turns out that the robot in question is a Mark 13, a killer cyborg made for the government for wanton killing (the populous, as it turns out in a very subtle sub-plot) and is capable of self-regeneration. So of course she uses the parts in a sculpture and one night, it regenerates itself and goes on a rampage, attempting to kill all in sight.
I never did figure out what role, exactly, Lincoln Wineberg, Jr. (the pervert) plays. He spies on Jill, tries desperately to hit on her, then becomes victim number one to the robot (“Here, let me open these blinds.” “Blinds? I didn't shut the blinds!” “There we go—ack!”). And just when you think it's over—it lives! It terrorizes some more. It sings tenor! It induces epileptic seisures in all who look at it.
Over all, just a real bad film.
Well worth the three bucks for renting it.