My first real TV show - not a Saturday morning cartoon - was The X Files. It was the mid-90's, I was ten or eleven years old, and I vividly remember curling up on the couch in the dark, staring wide-eyed at the screen. I was scared, but it felt fun. Exciting.
I followed Mulder and Scully's adventures to the very (somewhat bitter) end, and continue to gravitate toward the Twin Peaks and X Files aesthetic: small town weirdness, Americana with a twist, the supernatural lurking just beneath the surface of the mundane. White picket fence with a spatter of blood - or goo, depending on your monster.
Stephen King's eye for the weird is unparalleled. I wonder what it would be like to live inside his head for a day? Would it be a continuous game of what if? What if an overbearing mother and high school bullies push a telekinetic teenager to the brink? What if a writer with an anger management problem loses his marbles while stranded in a haunted hotel? What if passengers on a plane fall asleep and wake up to the past being consumed by time-eating Langoliers?
Classic fairy tales, too, are full of the macabre - and I love their shorthand, bare-boned storytelling.
Take the tale of Faithful Johannes. There's kidnapping, obsession, a man who understands the language of crows, a curse (of course), and then things get really weird. Faithful Johannes drinks three drops of blood from the Princess's breast on her wedding night. Faithful Johannes turns to stone. Faithful Johannes is restored to life when the Prince, following the instructions of a prophetic dream, chops his sons' heads off and sprays Faithful Johannes' statue with their blood. And everyone lives happily ever after.
The spirit of Halloween doesn't die with the stroke of midnight on October 31 when you love the weird and the macabre - it's delightful fun to sink into a thrilling tale any day of the year.