Every week I strive to write a column. Sometimes it goes better than others, as I learned when one column got picked up by a Marvel fan site and blew up my inbox. But it’s an endless cycle. I try to come up with ideas while sitting in class. I write list after list of column ideas, just to discard them all when I finally sit down to write the damn thing. What should I write about? How can I be topical and current without just simply regurgitating the opinions of others?
This week, circumventing those questions seemed like a cake walk. It’s Halloween on Wednesday! I can write about Halloween movies. I’m a genius.
Apparently not (although if that wasn’t apparent by now, it looks like we both aren’t geniuses). I’m sitting here at my dining room table next to one of my housemates. Fran has been intently working—and only slightly annoyingly whistling the tune to Meghan Trainor’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” I, on the other hand, have been doing everything else. It’s Saturday, and it’s raining, so I can’t go outside to distract myself. Instead, I’ve made breakfast (yellow rice and black beans on toast), I’ve started doing laundry, I’ve poured and reheated the same cup of black coffee about four times. I’ve finished some work on my Halloween costume. I ordered and received pad thai (it was spicy). I’ve done everything but write this column.
It shouldn’t be that hard, either. I love movies. I’ve seen plenty of Halloween movies. It’s not a stretch to assume that I could come up with 700 to 800 words with some sort of take on them. And yet I sit here, doing nothing. This is usually how I write columns—I simply sit for a few moments and run through ideas in my head. I start with a couple broader topics—say, my favorite Halloween movies, or the scariest movies I’ve ever seen, or Halloween movies I watched as a child. From there, I try to quickly run down the path of each idea: Is this something I have a take on? Could I write some sort of well-formed argument or opinion on this? If so, what would my examples be?
But that didn’t work this time. Yeah, I could talk about some of the best classic Halloween movies (or even classic scary movies). I could pine for the ways of classic horror movies like Psycho and Rosemary’s Baby, or the practical effects of throwbacks like The Thing or The Fly. I could annoy my readers (fewer by the day) with a reflection on the merits of my favorite 1922 German expressionist horror movie, Nosferatu. But I don’t have any new ideas or information about any of those movies. Who wants to read that? I don’t, and I’m the one writing it.
So I tried to narrow down my topics. Maybe I could find one movie, or very narrowly look at something Halloween-related, to talk about. Two ideas sprang to mind.
Idea the first. What type of movie is The Nightmare Before Christmas? Is it a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? Answer: both.
So much for that idea.
Idea the second. I cannot, for the life of me, get the movie Monster House out of my head. It’s been knocking around in there this whole week. For those who have forgotten, or never remembered in the first place, Monster House is an animated movie in which neighborhood children find themselves in a haunted house. But this time, the house itself is alive—and married to the old guy who lives there? Why was this movie so heavily marketed? I can remember with such clarity the trailer for Monster House. It’s explained in the trailer and in the movie that there are various structures in the house that represent the parts of its body. The front door is the mouth, the two windows are its eyes. Fair enough. But there is a scene in this movie where Jenny analyzes the foyer. She says “If those are the teeth [in reference to splintered floorboards] and that’s the tongue [in reference to the rug], then that must be the uvula [in reference to the chandelier].” Chowder (great name) responds by saying, “Oh, so it’s a girl house.”
These kids are 12. The children who are watching this are presumably that age and younger. I was 8 when I saw it. So this joke, featured so prominently in the trailer, must have gone way over the heads of most kids in there. This is not so abnormal, but the joke itself is. Why is this kids movie making a play on the word vulva? I get it, but I just don’t get it.
But in thinking through this, I realized I couldn’t conceivably write a whole column about that. So instead, I wrote this.
Featured Image by Columbia Pictures