In Boozo Veritas # 62 by Teege Braune
Adventures in Halloweening: Part 1
I walked with a zombie last night.
I really don’t care to know that Samhain is pronounced Sow-in and not phonetically, and I have never thought of Halloween as a holiday that only takes place on October 31. Halloween is an atmosphere that builds like a tempest and culminates on the last day of October. The Halloweener does herself a great disservice acknowledging the ghastly and macabre only once annually. If you are anything like Jenn and me, Halloween is peppered throughout the entire year, and then completely takes over the month of October. After all, I am part werewolf, a Halloween Man. We have four rules to live by as October builds towards Halloween:
- Watch only horror films.
- Read only scary stories
- Participate in as many Halloween-oriented extra-curricular activities as possible
- Make at least one human sacrifice to the Sabbatic Goat Baphomet
Pretty simple stuff. During the month of October, 2014, In Boozo Veritas will be dedicated to cataloging our terrifying adventures as we descend towards what promises to be a very memorable Halloween indeed.
I began the month by finishing Acceptance, the third novel in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy. These three books, also incorporating the novels Annihilation and Authority, are perhaps the best and most original examples of science-fiction oriented cosmic horror in the twenty-first century. Ecologically inspired without ever devolving into allegory, the implications of these novels are more terrifying than any single moment of horror that occurs within. That being said, those moments, when they come, are made all the more jarring because the individual characters are so well drawn, imbued with so much natural humanity, that the reader cannot help but become entirely invested in their well being. I cannot wait to see VanderMeer read at Functionally Literate in November.
Went with Jenn and the Silvias to the German American Society of Central Florida’s Oktoberfest celebration in Casselberry.
Anyone who enjoys standing in lines for things like pretzels, beer, and using the restroom will have a great time at Oktoberfest. Fortunately, invigorating conversation with fellow artists and writers can make even waiting in line an exciting experience, and Jared and Lesley Silvia are simply oozing with creative talent. After a couple pitchers of Hofbräu, we decided to make our way to Audubon Park’s Zombietoberfest. As they were able to procure a parking space that was less than several miles from the event, Jared and Lesley were kind enough to give us a ride to our car. An empty patch of grass adjoining Evergreen Cemetery provided an impromptu parking lot for the packed festival, and as we trudged towards the car, Jared explained to me that years ago the grassy area had provided a potter’s field for unknown corpses and those whose family could not provide even the most rudimentary post-life accommodations.
“So just how many bodies do you think we’re walking on right now?” I asked him, appalled.
“How should I know? Most likely hundreds,” came the disturbing answer.
Watched Shivers, David Cronenberg’s first major feature film. While elements like the phallic, orgy-inducing parasites anticipate the kind of viscerally disgusting, body-horror nightmares that Cronenberg would later accomplish with classics like The Brood, Videodrome, and The Fly, there is a solid reason why Shivers was so hard to find and wasn’t even available on DVD for so long. Richer material, no doubt, for Jeff Schuster than myself, but I’m glad I watched it all the same. It’s nice to know that even a juggernaut like Cronenberg had some false starts before he made his mark.
Read “Schalken the Painter” by Sheridan Le Fanu. While Le Fanu’s Carmilla is credited as the first canonized vampire in western literature, Minheer Vanderhausen, of Rotterdam, seems to be as much an influence on Stoker’s Dracula as Carmilla herself. I cite, particularly, the scene of bedroom abduction and the overarching sense of lewd decay that clings to the principal antagonists in both works of classic gothic horror. The brevity of “Schalken the Painter” contributes to its masterfully executed jolt, which comes at the reader swiftly and occupies less than a full line of the story. Nevertheless, it is a terrifying moment and made all the more bizarre by the fact that Godfried Schalken is a historical and much celebrated artist. Western horror is absolutely covered in Le Fanu’s bloody fingerprints, and it’s nice to see that his wonderful tales are being rediscovered.
When we got to Zombietoberfest it seemed the bulk of the festivities had already taken place including the costume contest, the grand prizes of which went to friends of ours.
The unseasonably cool night, created a delightful autumnal atmosphere. We spotted a fellow in a black trench coat, his collar up against the breeze and a wide-brimmed hat low over his eyes. I wondered if he had entered the zombie contest, and if so, why he didn’t win first place. Maybe subtlety was the key; he was primarily covered up by the hat, the high collar, and shadows of night, but the exposed bit of his face revealed the grossest zombie I have ever seen outside of cinema.
“Nice makeup, man,” I said as he passed. A brief nod was his only response.
As Zombietoberfest was ending, we made our way to Redlight Redlight, where zombies, zombie hunters, and normals all intermingled, but then again Redlight Redlight has always been known for bringing people together. My day-long bout of drinking was starting to get the better of me and my friends were mostly disappearing. I was polishing off my final liter of beer as Jenn gently tugged me towards the exit when I spotted him again, the disgusting zombie I had seen earlier. He was wearing the same coat and hat that he wore at Zombietoberfest, and while the lights were dimmed considerably, I was able to get a solid look at him. The skin on his face appeared to be completely eaten away; his eyeballs hung out at weird angles; he had no nose to speak of; and his lips were peeled back revealing jagged yellow teeth. He even made it look as though worms were crawling in and out of his mangled flesh. Never in my life have I seen homemade makeup that convincing. I wondered if he came from Universal Studios, but he did nothing to indicate that he was advertising Halloween Horror Nights.
Earlier this evening Jenn and I finally got around to watching Adam Wingard’s You’re Next, which proved to be one of the most tense and exciting home invasion movies since the proto-slasher Black Christmas. Considering that home invasions by masked psychopaths is now the leading cause of death in the United States, this is a very culturally significant genre. While the cast is made up of an in-crowd of mumble-gore’s indie darlings, Barbara Crampton as the matriarch of the doomed and dysfunctional clan was a treat for the horror aficionados in our household. That said, Sharni Vinson as the most badass final girl in cinematic history, really carries the weight of the film on her own Aussie shoulders.
This week’s Halloween calendar includes Literocalypse # 10 at the Space on Thursday, October 9th at 9 pm. This reading is dedicated to scary stories, and I will be presenting my weird tale “Sick Fair,” for your macabre enjoyment. The season of Samhain has begun. Stay tuned in the weeks to come for more adventures in Halloweening.
Teege Braune (episode 72, episode 75, episode 77, episode 90, episode 102) is a writer of literary fiction, horror, essays, and poetry. Recently he has discovered the joys of drinking responsibly. He may or may not be a werewolf.