If you’re a kid, or even a kid at heart, your favorite holiday (after Christmas, Chanukkah or Kwanza) is coming this Saturday. Halloween. Like you need me to tell you that.
Halloween is all about being scared and there’s no scarier place to be at this time of year than Hollywood. A lot of people would agree with that statement no matter what time of year it was. My reasoning was that twice I was within a very short walking distance of two people who worked for either the film or TV studios or some prop supply house. Maybe they were just insane. I never bothered to ask. Whatever their mental health, they had had access to some of the best, scariest decorations I’ve ever seen.
When I was living in Van Nuys, two decades before the recent zombie craze, one of my neighbors would prepare his front yard with authentic looking wooden coffins. There’d be an arm hanging out of one of them, a leg out of another. These were no Party City plastic appendages, my friends. These things looked and felt REAL. They had weight to them. The skin felt like, gulp! human flesh. Cold human flesh. Skeletons felt like bone. Half-decayed ghouls flexed their fingers, moaning, as they tried to crawl through the moors-like artificial fog that covered the whole front yard. None of us neighbors would have been surprised if these folks got arrested for grave robbing. This was that good.
Curiously, nobody knew who lived at this house. Or maybe we just didn’t want to know. Whoever it was, they had candy to give out and, come what may, that is the holy grail on Halloween. As we and our terrified children cautiously walked the path to ring the doorbell, a couple of grotesquely disfigured male and female corpses seated nearby suddenly flinched, scaring children and parents alike.
The front door swung open and a one-armed hunchback man, one eye hanging out of its socket, held out a black plastic witch’s cauldron full of candy. The kids quickly grabbed a handful of goodies and ran away. Smart. As we started to follow, the hunchback offered us candy. As a couple of us tentatively reached into the cauldron, a hand shot up out of the candy and grabbed an arm. The parent screamed. The hunchback laughed and wished us a Happy Halloween. Yeah, real funny.
As I said at the beginning, there were two neighbors who did this kind of thing on Halloween. The second one, in North Hollywood, also worked for a studio. Every year a big truck carried all sorts of crates, wiring and other concealed objects for their annual haunted house. The place was so popular that the police had to direct the traffic. I never went to the haunted house. It was bad enough having my arm grabbed in that cauldron.
Til next Tuesday…