I know who you are. You are the autumn people. Where do you come from? The dust. Where do you go to? The grave.
Yes. We are the hungry ones. Your torments call us like dogs in the night. And we do feed, and feed well.
On this last Tuesday before Halloween, I want to tell you about one of my favourite lesser-known Halloween films. Something Wicked This Way Comes is based on Ray Bradbury's book of the same title. It was made by Disney in 1983, when they apparently decided to make terrifying, atmospheric examinations of the soul's torment instead of family-friendly fare.
Now, don't get me wrong, this film isn't gory or profanity-laden and it doesn't rely on jump-scares. Rather, it's crafted in such a way as to make you deeply aware of the potential for darkness in even the safest of places.
The story follows young Will Halloway and his best friend, Jim Nightshade. One day, there is a lightning storm in their sleepy little town and a mysterious carnival arrives. Ever so slowly, strange things begin to happen to the people in the town - they get everything they ask for... but pay a terrible price.
Although the story ostensibly follows Will and Jim, the crowning achievement of this film is the overarching duel between Will's father, a man defined by his cowardice, and Mr. Dark, the deliciously evil carnival owner. The complexity of Mr. Halloway's self-loathing and regret is beautifully realized in the taunting of Mr. Dark; yet, throughout, the man's potential for strength is evident, and the viewer deeply identifies with the fear of being the only person to stand and face the darkness.
The entire film has a timeless quality to it, especially with the implication that these events are simply the latest in a series that has plagued this town, and indeed men themselves, since time immemorial. Relationships between father and son, good and evil, and wishes and regrets all intertwine, so that's you're on the edge of your seat - wondering if there's hope for the good people in this town, and, whether you realize it or not, hope for yourself.
I cannot recommend this film highly enough! So if you're looking for something a little different this Halloween, please check out Something Wicked This Way Comes. And, since a remake is in the works, see the original now so you can be as disgusted as I plan to be.