The Shape Of Halloween To Come

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Lest I be admonished by the Ghoul Guild, we need to address genuine concerns I have with Halloween encroaching upon my nation’s borders.

I have no idea what I’m gonna do for this Halloween, probably hide in my room from trick or treaters who don’t understand my damage in the slightest, having sacrificed my dignity doing missionary work for Samhain as a child and receiving next to nothing as my reward. This may surprise Americans reading this, but when I was a kid Halloween wasn’t really a thing yet, despite numerous attempts on my part to make fetch happen during the nineties. I first learnt about The Arrangement™ wherein costumed beggars performed a stand-and-deliver routine demanding candy from strangers on Saturday Morning Disney, hence seeing Halloween decorations being sold in Target just reinforces how I’m way too old to reap the benefits of something I tried and failed to popularise. Australia’s anti-Halloween Scroogey ambivalence towards the harvest holiday has far more to do with our lack of harvest than Calvinist Puritanism, considering how Australia welcomed St. Patrick’s Day with open arms as another excuse for a booze-up, I’m shocked Halloween hasn’t been adopted wholesale by our drinking culture. Halloween in the Southern Hemisphere also benefits from the lack of Planes, Trains And Automobiles Thanksgiving rush drama to panic over, our sizeable gap between October 31st and December 25th gives us plenty of time for preparing respective Halloween and Christmas decorations. Nonetheless, Aussie Halloween parties run into the same problem me and my brother experienced when we were the only guys committed to festive Weekend At Bernie’s 2 Hawaiian shirt dress code; if nobody else bothers believing in the spooky season together, what’s the point? That’s where my weary curmudgeon attitude surrounding All Hallows Eve comes from, this holiday has broken my heart too many times for me to trust its value anymore, confused homeowners using bananas or Tim-Tams as a last resort to placate disappointed trick-or-treaters is our expected reaction to Halloween. I’m not gonna pretend Halloween’s social media driven resurgence isn’t devoid of concerns surrounding what it entails for Australian nationalism, if you wanted intense Varg Vikernes rants condemning MacDonald’s, perhaps Pagemaster General isn’t the best place to post an anti-globalist screed. Donald Trump getting elected presents an interesting conundrum for Australian politics, usually what happens no matter who’s elected Prime Minister this week, America calls the shots dictating whether or not we support their warmongering in Iraq or Syria. We have so little influence on Canberra’s unconscionable decisions that we’ve grown quite cynical about whether they’re listening to us at all, we protested detaining refugees on Manus Island and Nauru, yet our lamentations fell upon deaf ears clogged with money. Funny how these future Hague tribunal auditions never resign over obvious ethical failures like dog-whistle xenophobia, they’re always caught for embezzling tax-payer funds. I saw an Australian opera called The Eighth Wonder about the Sydney Opera House, it was pure unintentional comedy gold depicting our worthless politicians in broad, detestable Cobra Commander strokes. Thanks to Malcolm Turnbull sabotaging our broken infrastructure, we didn’t get Netflix until 2015, agitating resentment between my generation and clueless neo-luddites cramping our style. Meanwhile, Halloween’s emblematic of everything we’re told is unhealthy for patriotic Australians, it’ll rot our sovereignty like candy rots our teeth! I can’t muster sustained anger at Halloween, when Uncle Sam once collaborated with M16 to destabilise Gough Whitlam’s democratic-elected government, CIA set up nuclear bases at Pine Gap pointed north at Asia-Pacific regions in case our aggressive communist trade partner China bullies its tinier neighbours. Donald Trump’s disparaged our Prime Minister over the phone too, my prolonged absence gave me a lot of old grievances which needed airing pronto, I also plummeted off the metaphysical deep end on this one so be warned. I spent months editing this crap so my contractual obligation didn’t sound like an Ultimate Warrior WWE promo, a man cannot load his spaceship with the rocket-fuel and the words alone, those words still have to form coherent sentences. I’ve struggled writing anything long-form since graduation, how am I supposed to satirise current events using my novels as a platform, when the senators I’m shaming become irrelevant overnight through leadership spills? At least I protested Tony Abbott when he was still in office, after his infamous “sex appeal” gaffe, my FLACCID MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT placard pictured below took the piss. Without that socio-political context, it looks like I’ve cloaked profanity in five dollar swears, instead of me launching a merciless below-the-belt assault on Tony Abbott’s machismo. It took Donald Trump humiliating our representative for Americans to wake up, figuring out maybe the ANZUS Treaty was a one-sided special relationship between allies they’ve taken for granted, as one of the twentieth century’s strongest agreements is called into question. Civilisation’s crumbling, the Doomsday Clock’s two and a half minutes to midnight, and I’m reheating my coldest take possible in the microwave cause I can’t procrastinate tomorrow.

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I took my seething contempt to the streets during the March In March, publishing fiction moves slow, activism moved very fast.

There are legit arguments worth hearing provided by real experienced journalists like John Pilger for example, that capitalism carpet-bombing our airwaves with imported reality or cooking shows discourages Australian broadcasters from funding original programming when they can just purchase foreign content cheaper by the dozen. I’ve certainly noticed how Aussie cartoons like Flipper And Lopaka or Lil’ Elvis Jones And The Truckstoppers stopped getting green-lit when Bruce Timm’s DC Animated Universe canon and Japanese anime blew Yoram Gross’ humble production values away. Stop-motion director Adam Elliot nabbed himself an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film with Harvie Krumpet in 2004, releasing his feature-length debut Mary And Max in 2009for now all I’ll say about it is that animation’s as vital an artform for autistics as musical theatre has become for LGBT audiences. Animal Kingdom was another Australian classic my mother dragged me to back when she’d grown concerned I wouldn’t watch anything which didn’t star any elves like The Lord Of The Rings of my own volition; of course the fact I was studying Extension 1 English Crime Fiction for Higher School Certificate units probably had a lot to do with why she insisted I watch Cate Blanchett’s non-Galadriel performance in Little Fish, and became one of the lucky few who saw Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang upon its theatrical release. Mum did her best to raise me and my twin brother as cultured cineastes, she rented us Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs on VHS at an impressionable age, denying she did so to avoid parental responsibility. My twin brother’s film school aspirations exceeded mine, my Media Arts diploma dodged another seven years of dense postmodern literary theory I’d already grown sick of in HSC exams, although his cineaste tastes rubbed off on me as a second language I used to bond with him. Our mutual friend Reena (who starred in one of my Sydney College Of The Arts student films, Great Southern Land) gave me Not Quite Hollywood on DVD my birthday or Christmas, point is Not Quite Hollywood was this recent documentary about Ozsploitation cinema which inspired me to explore my country’s forgotten grindhouse horror heritage. Despite what OFLC video-game censorship would have you believe, Australians are not averse to macabre campfire stories like proto-Wolf Creek murderer Ivan Milat or Picnic At Hanging Rock, one of the greatest horror movies made in the 21st Century is The Babadook. Ted Kotcheff’s long-thought-lost classic Wake In Fright was rediscovered in a Pittsburg vault marked for incineration, a strange case of Americans rescuing Australian culture we didn’t do the best job of looking after properly, editor Tony Buckley and technician Anthos Simon digitally restored its battered print frame by frame and re-released it to universal critical acclaim. I saw Snowtown last night after my twin brother advised against doing so, which is as shame since Snowtown expresses our country’s unique hate-crime savagery committed towards acceptable targets we dehumanise as the other, released during heated senate debates on marriage equality and following the Cronulla Riots Downunder satirises. Even Yoram Gross managed to impress/scare me as an adult with his Dot And The Kangaroo, in which the Bunyip song transcends its cheap-jack animation budget, creating atmospheric dread using an underscored piano melody and the x-ray aesthetic of Aboriginal paintings to convey how terrifying this mythic Bunyip creature you’ve never heard of before can be.

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The Bunyip from Dot And The Kangaroo kinda confirms my suspicions about why H.P. Lovecraft adaptations seldom succeed, Cthulhu’s goofy squid-faced visage requires a subtle director, who understands how to induce night terrors despite the Bunyip’s laughable character design.

I’m fully aware Christmas has its detractors, disgusted by Black Friday trampling Wal-Mart greeters under bargain-hungry stampedes; yet Halloween evokes unpleasant memories of when I dressed up as a Doomlord (one of the many monsters I designed in my sketchpad) and neighbourhood louts called me a Gaylord. I’ve only been to one Halloween party worth a damn, organised by one of my mother’s law school buddies, this happened so long ago the horror movies rented for this occasion were VHS clamshell tapes. I didn’t stick around to watch Python II cause its OFLC Classification Rating exceeded my age bracket, although it’s hilarious to consider I used to take OFLC Classification Ratings as gospel handed down from Canberra like Moses. What I did do at my mother’s friends’ house, was dip my toe into the room where her Halloween themed haunted house sound effects tape played on loop. She’d informed us sometimes the ghost of an Aborigine wandered her home late at night, so I was frightened by trying to figure out which noises said ghost or her Halloween tape was making. Also I forgot to mention this lady was married to an African man she had a kid with, so her walls were covered in harmless traditional decorations you’d expect from an African gentleman living there, which resembled that Zuni doll from Trilogy Of Terror when the lights were switched off. Since that evening I seldom felt genuine awe at spooky stuff on Halloween, compared to visiting Marilyn’s place my disastrous trick-or-treating failed to recapture the magic of. I’m glad I did partake in my one amazing, Ray Bradburian Halloween, dwarfing all others I’d ever experience the same way responsible stoners recommend you only need to do LSD once. Halloween disappeared from Australia’s national consciousness afterwards: the pumpkin carving stopped being part of my October ritual, trick-or-treating became a mean-spirited punchline wielded by killjoys eager to murder children’s dreams of free candy in the crib. I can’t imagine how jaded mid-twenties Millennials coped with their enthusiasm for Halloween being crushed under Australia’s indifference towards it, it often served as our first harsh lesson about entitlement we learned young and early. No, you can’t have everything you see on television, not everybody celebrates our religious holidays. And yet like The Last Unicorn, Halloween reemerged from the forest in 2016, castigated by Australia’s Molly Grues who ceased believing it’d appear to them as promised aeons ago. My mother’s cynical assessment of Halloween 2016 missed the big picture of what went on behind the scenes of our impolite society, she still ate some Caramello Koalas, Mars and Snickers bars I bought for hypothetical trick-or-treaters who didn’t bother knocking upon our painted-grey door which might as well be The Last House On Dead End Street. I bought Halloween candy on sale at Coles with my own money for the first time, and the children living next-door’s parents drove to another neighbourhood, before I could hand out any of my precious bounty I’d acquired. In honesty I cannot blame them for disappointing me, I hadn’t put up traditional spooky Halloween decorations inviting anyone to visit us with their colourful costumes and little pumpkin candy buckets. Halloween 2016 came and went, as usual I’d celebrated it alone. Rather than sulking by myself, I made the best of a bad situation, bringing back the DIY pageantry which made Halloweens past so wonderful.

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“And where were you twenty years ago? Ten years ago? Where were you when I was new? When I was one of those innocent young maidens you always come to? How dare you come to me now, when I am this!”

Let’s be real, 2016 heralding Halloween’s inexplicable return during an epoch of creepy clown epidemics, and Barnaby Joyce threatening to euthanise Johnny Depp’s dogs like Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West seemed the most logical explanation for its awakening ever. We all cursed 2016 as a blight upon our calendars since New Years Day dismissed our pitiful resolutions as wishful thinking, only those who embraced the outspoken devilry to come accomplished anything. Halloween coming back with a vengeance in 2016 is unsurprising as Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition being sold out before Christmastime, yet somehow there are contrarians acting like these outcomes aren’t foregone conclusions. 2016 tried to warn us it was evil by including a six inside its name for Christ’s sake, suckers still gave 2016 the benefit of a doubt despite an occulting moon demonstrating we had an unprecedented level of spookiness going down. I saw tarot readers on Twitter posting spread predictions hoping Hilary Clinton would win, yet my trusty I-Ching smartphone app told me a different story altogether, at first I thought this hexagram indicated how I would be ten minutes late to an Arrival preview screening. But no, as usual both tarot and I-Ching predictions can be a bit vague unless you’re paying close attention, just because The Empress and Justice show up in your Past, Present and Future spread doesn’t guarantee neo-liberalism’s victorious. Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching calls foreknowledge a flowery embellishment of the Way, and this election proved why grasping at yarrow sticks shows bad judgement, our only oracle seer worth consulting was Michael Moore. 2016 marked the year I committed to becoming the wizard I’ve known I’ve since kindergarten, why mope waiting for your Hogwarts letter like passive Millennials often do, when you can get Simon’s Necronomicon delivered by airmail? Peter Bebergal’s Season Of The Witch became one of my favourite non-fiction books I own, sandwiched between Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History Of Metal which discusses occultism in rock music to a lesser extent than Season Of The Witch, Red Eye Records has an astounding variety of treasures on sale. Kenzaburo Oe’s The Changeling and Jack Zipes’ The Original Folk & Fairy Tales Of The Brothers Grimm sit next to each other, if I could find my first edition of Keith Donahue’s The Stolen Child it’d be placed beside J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Changeling lore‘s been a major focus of my autistic identity since I found out the autism spectrum and fey folk shared a peculiar history in aeons past, it can’t be coincidence that I’ve enchanted people with glamour to win friends and influence people, apparently being able to eat food inside your dreams is another key indicator I’ve documented myself doing. My copious milk consumption’s the smoking gun in this argument, case closed, I’m a faerie. Taoism’s pre-established mythology accommodates fairy folktales without contradicting my current religious beliefs, although Celtic traditions tended to depict changelings as an unpleasant creature parents should shun, the old school equivalent of anti-vaccination. My estranged relationship with Halloween also evolved, I researched my Scots-Irish heritage; it became apparent I’ve got a more legitimate claim to such respectable lineage than P.L. Travers ever did, my uncle’s Ancestry.com detective work revealed we’re descended from one of history’s greatest prostitutes, who went down with the ship she was transported here by as a convict, and got hanged ashore for the crime of excessive maritime sluttiness, after giving birth to my direct ancestor she got pregnant with through honest pioneer sex work which shouldn’t be legislated against. It brings me immense comfort knowing these veins owe their DNA structure to the world’s oldest profession, instead of sharing genetics with violent bushrangers who robbed women and children at gunpoint, watching Who Do You Think You Are? on TV really puts Australia’s overrated outlaw mystique into perspective. If Jem And The Holograms implores us to be truly, truly outrageous, Halloween is the time of year we take Jem’s teachings to heart, celebrating true outrageousness past and present.

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Guan Yu’s halberd guards against the evil emanating from other occult tomes on Jake’s Brutal Bookshelf, Opening The Dragon Gate‘s a great beginner level grimoire if you want to learn more about Taoist sorcery.

What I’ve learned from firsthand warlock experience is, burnt offering incense flares up far quicker than the incense stalks set up for atmosphere at a day spa, I know this having tried burning some leftover Dragon’s Blood I gave to Guan Yu which immolated at a much slower pace than the accepted sacrifice I provided the mighty God of War and Literature. I played Susumu Hirasawa’s Forces for him when I was preparing said sacrifice, he literally ate it up an alarming rate, devouring his incense I bought for this special occasion before my iMac speakers were done cranking the song. It reminded me of Patton Oswalt’s routine from My Weakness Is Strong, where he describes not believing his wife about a gigantic rat he should call an exterminator for; suggesting a Sumerian prankster god’s last follower sacrificed a goat giving him an ounce of power to summon this pestilence, debunking his argument. I cast a hex upon Australia’s current government to undermine racist immigration policies and destroy its undemocratic Trans-Pacific Partnership folly earlier this year, however as soon as I burnt the incense offering for Guan Yu I got a much swifter result than I did not burning any incense for deities/ancestors whom I petitioned hoping they’d assist me. Taoist sorcery serves a different function than say, Wiccan coven activity hexing convicted rapist Brock Turner with impotence, for starters you don’t need a coven of feminist goths at your command to cast Taoist petition spells. Wiccan spirituality belongs to matriarchy-focused practitioners I wasn’t willing to disturb with yet another masculine voice their community had to police, call me out for appropriating Chinese religious practices all you want, I’ve avoided summoning Lo-Pan by doing my homework on proper conversion first. Part of why I chose Taoist spirituality over other options radicalised youth preferred like Islam, was my attempt to quit spouting scary extremist rhetoric which might get me in trouble with ASIO. Throwing the government I despise a curve-ball by refusing to join ISIS was a phenomenal troll they’d never see coming, Canberra can’t arrest me for carrying illegal weapons caches if my religion frowns upon me owning any. After online shopping for tai-chi swords, I had some troubling night terrors in which my misguided sword-ownership quest led me far astray from my Taoist principles, rampaging around shirtless like Alex Jones. Normally describing your dreams in detail bores your friends, however plenty of mine held great spiritual significance to me as I started studying Taoist sorcery and applied those teachings to my daily life; I had one where a Chinese sorcerer named Lethal Weapon handed me this parchment I could barely read but held onto as part of my wizard training, it wasn’t until I woke up, writing down what I dreamt that I realised I’d just accepted the call. Some people wait entire lifetimes for this kinda closure regarding what Joseph Campbell’s comparative mythology scholarship tried to teach us, I’ve heard seeing AKIRA on a cinema screen’s the only sacrament that matters, I beg to differ having touched the divine in four dimensions. I’m well aware college stoners claiming they’re wizards cause they’ve dropped acid are an insufferable cliche, there was no acid or LSD dropped during my astral projection vision quest, you can’t buy prescribed space age Ritalin (Concerta) off Walter White. I keep an Evernote dream journal I’ve backed up in chapters on my computer using Scrivener, so whenever I’ve had a rough week or unpleasant anxiety attack where I’m near ceasing to believe in my own magic, I can examine signifiers I’ve logged in order of their appearance. For example, Vanellope Von Schweetz holds totemic significance to me as a cyberstalker abuse survivor, she’s been showing up in my nightmares about cyberstalkers sending me Sicilian messages of Vanellope’s crashed race-kart like it’s a horse’s head in The Godfather. The consistent recurring signifier of Vanellope appearing in every nightmare I have about cyberstalkers, is my subconscious warning me I haven’t addressed possible PTSD I buried out of necessity, or I’m afraid of being labelled a needy drama queen if I talk about it ever. Traumatising experiences I often have nightmares about which aren’t stone cold bummers include that one time I rode Rail Chase at Sega World Sydney, grown men have real regrets about their ex-girlfriends not calling back; I have Karl Pilkington regrets like not giving Rail Chase another chance before Sega World was demolished, as if Jake shunning the place outright killed Sega World with my mind, because I couldn’t bear sharing my city with it. I never skipped any rollercoaster at a theme-park again, thinking this could be my last ride, and surveying the wreckage of Australian theme-parks that assessment’s usually correct.

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Why was the Chinese sorcerer who initiated me through an elaborate ceremony named Lethal Weapon? Warner Bros. Movie World built this opulent Dragon Gate theming I was brave enough to explore as a boy.

Several months later I had another dream where I was dressed in my private high school blazer uniform doing Pathways, stuck in the same old library as I was longer than any sane man should be enrolled there. All of a sudden, Ronnie James Dio BAMFs into the building; gives me a piggy back ride out of the library, and as he does so he greets my twin brother. I ask Ronnie about his bout with cancer, he responds: “What cancer?” – which startles me because until this point, dead people haven’t spoken in my dreams when they appeared. I decided I had to repay Ronnie James Dio for this comforting visitation as my faith suggests, by burning incense for him at my makeshift altar I constructed using a dinner plate and a glass bottle. I set alight a torch of Dragon’s Blood to symbolise my hex against the dragon of cancer which took Dio’s life, an act of gratitude so potent it destroyed the vessel holding my burnt offerings quick smart, rushing to the nearby bathroom I poured water to prevent a house-fire. Originally I was gonna burn incense for notorious tract author Jack T. Chick as part of my Halloween 2016 occult naughtiness (he’d died the week beforehand) however I decided not to until I’d purchased a safer sand-filled Tibetan copper bowl for these rituals. Maybe the sixteen year old me huddled around Games Workshop’s hobby table painting his Death Guard Plague Marines, shouting DEATH TO THE FALSE EMPEROR! as I rolled them bones, still yearns for a mean-spirited desecration of Jack T. Chick’s memory; via sending him care packages he wouldn’t expect to receive in paranormal rehab on Halloween night. In case you need clarification of what Taoist paranormal rehab entails, it’s the Betty Ford Clinic/Wreck-It Ralph BAD ANON for troubled souls who refuse to reincarnate, which to be fair is a better Scandinavian prison system deal than Buddhism’s multiple hells Sun King Rupert Murdoch might serve his consecutive afterlife-sentences in when he pops his clogs. Mourning one’s enemies or civilians killed in large numbers is an important rite within my spirituality, it’s not just done for beloved celebrities. Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince or Leonard Cohen had millions of fans to lament their passing, meanwhile Orlando shooting victims receiving additional grieving support also helped heal secular LGBT communities. 2016 took George Michael from us too, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds followed suit. In order to cheer ya’ll up, I’ll tell you a story about a nap I took on Christmas Eve during the day. According to literature, Christmastime when you’re visited by ghosts, and this dream was no different. Now, I’ve had plenty of inexplicable dreams where random celebrities (mostly living) show up and hand out cryptic-ass advice, usually these ones consist of Will Smith wearing an Akubra hat and telling me: “Yo, get a haircut, son.” – The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air reminding me to have that haircut was a command I obeyed. Ronnie James Dio giving me a piggy-back ride out of dodge remains a game-changer, due to him speaking a whopping three sentences; prior to this, on the rare occasion celebrity apparitions did a drive-by haunting, Oscar Wilde pointed and laughed at my bad fan-fiction in his library. I knew I was off to a good start with former Metallica bassist Cliff Burton when he reared his mop of eighties metal hair, he didn’t criticise or even mention how I’d portrayed him in my second novel Internet Hate Machine. Knock on wood, Sir Alec Guinness hasn’t expressed his displeasure at becoming the Trollslayer universe’s Santa Claus yet either. Cliff Burton rocks up bedecked in his hesher denim, his chest area undamaged by Master Of Puppets tour-bus tire-marks scraped against his soul, confused why devoted Metallica fans revere him as a god. This took an emotional turn as I broke it to him he’s the reason millions of bassists learned to play, Cliff allowed me to hug him, my arms could fit around his waist like he was still with us. I ain’t gonna front claiming I didn’t cry at all when I heard George Michael had bitten the dust, direct supernatural encounters will do things to a man, even an autistic one. My tear-ducts are delayed release unless I’m watching Wreck-It Ralph or prepping for HSC exams, so instead of immediate despair tears I tend to marinate the grieving process. My expressionless face looked stone cold Daria monotone at first, until around brunch on Christmas Day, Last Christmas by Wham! ambushed me with its delicate xylophone chords. Wherever Carrie Fisher is now, I doubt she’s disappeared into oblivion, believing the force will be with her always isn’t a matter of blind faith or delusional hope. I’ll say this, George Carlin was half-right about his hypothesis that the hereafter doesn’t force our loved ones to stare down at us from the clouds for all eternity, ain’t that a relief? Taoism’s sandwiched between Buddhism and Kabbalah at interfaith summits, one of the rare mystic doctrines rational atheists online will bother debating, Alan Watts and Ursula K. Le Guin legitimised its philosophical components. We have deities, but the Nameless Tao grants them their power. After Azaelia Banks uploaded a video of herself cleaning up three years worth of encrusted chicken sacrifices, declaring she’s brujeria, any shock value of me melting a bottle or two is lost. Real witches do real things, although I’d describe myself as a bush-league sorcerer at best, the closest I’ve come to meditating is reading Marcel Proust’s In Search Of Lost Time. I have to abstain from eating Grain Waves chips during my alchemical process training, it’ll be harder than no-sex-for-one-hundred-days if my dearth of dating opportunities continues. Also, unlike Heaven’s Gate initiates, I’m not allowed to castrate myself to achieve this goal. Chinese sages consider this option cheating, by the way, alchemical chi process training is indeed the origin of those awful MRA subreddit memes about conserving male potency. Core difference being you’re only supposed to do this for one hundred days, the length of time it takes to cultivate internal alchemy within, No Fap November appropriates ancient religious practices and I refuse to endorse MRAs dragging us wizards through the muck. If I succeed attaining The Glow from Barry Gordy’s The Last Dragon, you’ll read all about it here first. I’ll likely never get another chance to mention it elsewhere, yesterday I found out my Chinese Zodiac animal isn’t Horse like I thought it is all these years, I’m a Snake born before Chinese New Year 1990. It’s so arbitrary to assign Zodiac animals this way, now two of my novel characters beta-readers loved aren’t a compatible couple anymore because I gave my own birthday to Eugene Kobia, whose wife Chie is a Tiger who can’t communicate with Snakes well. Better switch Eugene’s birthday back to its original November 3rd date, save myself the hassle of editing what’s already perfect. I contemplated casting a hex petition invoking Genghis Khan (his Chinese Zodiac sign is Horse), but I’ve seen Mongol, you don’t wanna make the open steppe’s conqueror angry by presuming you have leverage that’s inaccurate or dishonest to claim. Funny thing is, I’m not disappointed as I should be, when I was a little boy living on Mount Tamborine a python crawled into our bathroom through our ceiling. Both me and my twin brother are Chinese Zodiac Snakes, hence us witnessing an omen we took for granted at the same time holds mythological meaning I ignored far too long due to Chinese takeaway menus telling us we’re Horses, JK Rowling’s Pottermore Sorting Hat put me in Slytherin as a wake-up call. My high school buddies nicknamed me Jake “The Snake”, after a pro-wrestler I’ve never heard of called Jake Roberts, who I learned about from Brian Zane’s Wrestling With Wregret. I had no clue my classmates associated me with an alcoholic sports entertainer, who drunk-chanted “DDT! DDT! DDT!” at Casino Magic. This is what I’m talking about when I say I’m still a bush-league sorcerer, how can I become an enlightened Taoist mage if I can’t recognise my own spirit animal staring me in the face?

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I bought my Dragon’s Blood incense because it was the most brutal-sounding brand on the market, it’s what ancestors and deities crave!

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Lighting a torch for Ronnie James Dio on Halloween Night, 2016.

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Ronnie James Dio accepted his offering so hard, it melted the bottle.

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Steel necklace I purchased from a street vendor in Cyprus, to declare Chaos Space Marines allegiance when I played Warhammer 40,000.

In order to judge for myself whether or not Halloween 2016 was a false-flag operation set up by supermarket CEOs to increase confectionery sales brackets, I did the unthinkable, leaving my house so I could conduct field photo-journalism confirming/denying evidence that Halloween was here to stay. It wasn’t the only reason I got out of bed that morning, Doctor Strange had just come out, and you’ll see why I decided to see Marvel Studios’ latest at The Mandarin Centre in a minute. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Chatswood mall layouts, The Mandarin Centre is the Asian mall next to Westfield Chatswood where all the Chinese antique shops and Japanese language bookshops are located. The Mandarin Centre reminds me a lot of the Chinatown cinema where me, my brother and David Harris saw Jet Li’s The One together, only here its Hoyts Cinema doesn’t have any Year Of The Yao movie posters hanging in the lobby. The Mandarin Centre Hoyts holds a special place in my heart: this is where Vanellope made me cry on my birthday when I first saw Wreck-It Ralph, where I laughed my hardest during The Peanuts Movie when Lucy bellowed: “LOOK IN THE MIRROR, CHARLIE BROWN! IT’S THE FACE OF FAILURE!”, where I first discovered Jessie Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart had great chemistry in American Ultra. I had half an hour to kill until seeing Doctor Strange in 3D, Daiso was open, so I checked out their budget-priced Halloween decorations. Tim Maughan did an expose for the BBC on Yiwu, a Chinese city where most naff plastic tat found in Poundland stores is manufactured. If I were a betting man, I’d put money on Daiso shipping orange Halloween merchandise from Yiwu Market, although I didn’t get trapped in an IKEA-sized labyrinth. Capitalism’s latest soft power salvo to sell the Australian public on Halloween lasted longer than any preceding attempt I can recall, Christmas creep failed to overwhelm its pumpkin-spiced competition until the dawn of November 1st. Lolly-jar gadgets with skeleton hands pouncing upon those who dared stick their fingers inside, sold in Westfield Chatswood’s Target, delighted children. I noticed an unacceptable number of premature Christmas trees stocked at Kmart way back in early September, Halloween goodie outposts refusing to overstay their welcome felt refreshing contrasted against Frosty The Snowman’s complete utter lack of chill. Japan’s embrace of Halloween despite regional sabre-rattling imperialism forcing them to disband its military aggression provides a rich anthropological case-study, turns out isolated Asiatic societies which persecuted Catholics in the 17th Century might be cooler with Halloween than lame Anglo-Saxons. Blood: The Last Vampire, an anime set on Halloween at an army base, utilises this spooky foreigner custom for rad style over substance pre-vis scenes that Richard Kelly proved can work in Donnie Darko when he put Echo And The Bunnymen on its soundtrack. Haruki Murakami’s translator-friendly globalised fiction poses a problem of homogenised literature beyond mere aesthetic surface, Welcome To The NHK benefited from Tokyopop’s dry English language presentation of Tatsuhiko Takimoto’s prose because Satou was afraid he’d forget how to speak Japanese, hence his robotic mannerisms portrayed a hikikomori losing his mind rather than coming across as shoddy translation. I read Junichiro Tanizaki’s Quicksand in high school, Osakan dialects are important to its bleak narrative as a lesbian affair subplot which made Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures seem jovial, Kenzaburo Oe’s The Changeling revolves around a game of tagame played with a tape-recorder left behind by a filmmaker who committed suicide. You get a clearer picture of how contemporaneous citizens from other races, genders or sexualities think and feel about their lived realities by reading representative authors, I noticed an alarming pattern with Japanese literary works glamorising suicidal tendencies. You’d expect this kamikaze mentality from Yukio Mishima, but when Miyuki Miyabe’s Brave Story (a children’s book) takes its detour into Sylvia Plath territory, you start worrying if Hiro Hamada from Disney’s Big Hero 6 is truly satisfied with his care. I read a sociological text when I was researching my Trollslayer novels about real hikikomori called Shutting Out The Sun, which suggested Australia was one of the countries relocated NEET otaku could thrive, I ran with the concept as far as I could take its premise.

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I dunno what’s worse, me knowing Ichi/Hiro hurt-comfort fan-fiction’s inevitable, or not being allowed to read any of it for copyright reasons?

Ichi: Grandson Of The SS Tanizaki, half-Japanese and half-Nazi, born of Heinrich Himmler’s bloodline and Nanjing’s Scourge Tetsuo as both their respective heirs. On the surface, such an inflammatory character seems tailor-made for Milo Yiannopoulos’ target demographic, when in reality I created Ichi to scandalise and satirise vain extremists unfit to hold Yukio Mishima’s jockstrap. I’ve tried protesting, I’ve tried petitioning, throwing diverse hotties at the problem is my last resort. I’m sorry if bishie-based resistances aren’t strong enough to combat the greatest threat to Western democracy we’ve seen in our lifetimes, but I’d argue corrupting the Übermensch, sculpting an Adonis-faced Eurasian manga nonsense-boy out of everything the racist Aryan mind fears is our only hope to dismantle white supremacy. Baking Pauline Hanson’s racial prejudice into Ichi’s tragic backstory reminds readers how she divided our nineties suburban communities with hate speech she’s still spewing now; Ichi’s puppy love is condemned to the gallows when his primary school crush confesses her Daddy won’t let him play with her or his fish-and-chip shop’s Street Fighter II machine anymore because he’s a One Nation supporter, they kiss leaning against Henry Lawson’s memorial obelisk. Ichi grows up into a gorgeous anime hunk of man, who hates politicians everywhere, plotting and scheming to exterminate them for causing his earliest heartbreak. We haven’t had an angsty Asian lead in a mainstream Western property since Brandon Lee died filming The Crow, Ichi Tanizaki is one of the angstiest Asian characters ever conceived. I saw news footage showing California’s dam bursting and civilians being evacuated, that’s what’ll happen to Tumblr when my fictional son is unleashed upon an unsuspecting public. Australian literature hasn’t grappled with the subject of Halloween often, if David Malouf’s short stories aren’t gonna bring it up, I better get used to my novels hosting our Millennial All Hallow’s Eve debate. Internet Hate Machine, the second Trollslayer novel, features this extended chapter wherein Ichi Tanizaki dances with his ex-pop idol onryo girlfriend Miku Mishima on Halloween night, she’s under the disco ball so she shines bright while they’re slow-dancing to Riz Ortolani’s Cannibal Holocaust. I tried to parody Twilight‘s prom scenes where Bella and Edward are dancing together, only this time it’s the woman who sparkles, it melanges into what I hope will be an iconic moment everyone remembers in its own right. Cliff Burton’s ghost shows up to play bass, Miku’s a billionaire who can afford to hire him. Anyway, these books take place in an alternate-history where we’ve confirmed ghosts are one-hundred-per-cent real, there’s no Anne Rice masquerade hiding undead from civilians and the world-building runs on Pacific Rim rules. Hence Halloween in Trollslayer becomes a huge public holiday for undead citizens up there with Australia Day (Invasion Day), ANZAC Day, and The Queen’s Birthday. My twin brother’s derisive attitude towards our sunburnt country I observed as he cringed throughout The Eighth Wonder‘s Hills-Hoist sixties decor, and bogans dressed in singlets singing opera outdoors whilst cooking sausages on kettle barbecues, shines through in his student films. It’s like he’s embarrassed to be saddled with hideous architecture, outback settings and Australian accents our actors suppress in Hollywood productions. Perhaps he made his silent vampire short film Enthralled to avoid ockerness, What We Do In The Shadows proved New Zealanders aren’t ashamed of their film industry, our political insult bunyip aristocracy exists so blow-hard snollygosters who considered themselves superior to plebeians they governed could be taken down a peg. We’ve evolved past Dame Edna’s suburbia, John Howard tried his hardest to keep us there, being proud to be an Australian is difficult when our revolving door of evil interchangeable sociopaths provides us nobody we can cast our compulsory ballots for in good conscience. All this talk about not normalising fascism confuses me, it hasn’t been normal down under for yonks, how are we supposed to remember what democracy was when the awful news poisoning our social media feeds is like reading rejected Slayer lyric sheets full of the worst crimes against humanity imaginable? I’ve felt very uncomfortable when naive Americans on Twitter reassured me we’re doing better than them now, am I supposed to disillusion seppos, stating their idealised utopian vision of our remote continent is a hollow lie? Who’s gaslighting who at this point? Australian activism isn’t very glamorous or attention-grabbing, we often work unappreciated and unnoticed, standing alone against nigh impossible odds. Fairfax journalists dropped the ball so badly, we had to rely on BuzzFeed to stay informed through non-NewsCorp sources. Friendlyjordies is our John Oliver equivalent, The Chaser’s War On Everything’s been off the air for a decade, Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell isn’t making new episodes. Our allies aren’t protecting us from our enemies, we’re screaming for help, nobody believes us when we tell them something’s wrong. Splendid isolation is our curse. Wasn’t this think-piece about Halloween? I got sidetracked, and derailed it like Snowpiercer.

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Daiso’s vast array of Halloween trinkets were just as chintzy as I hoped, Chinese spiderweb lanterns painted black are a perfect fusion of kitsch.

I walked up the stairs towards Hoyts, partaking in my Doctor Strange 3D screening I paid more than I’d hoped it would cost, yet as I exited that theatre I didn’t feel ripped off cause Goddamn Doctor Strange had the most necessary 3D since James Cameron’s Avatar. I sure had my doors of perception opened by Tilda Swinton and Benedict Cumberbatch, which is lucky considering what mind-blowing spectacle awaited me when I left the cinema. Maybe the practicing Taoist in me felt pandered to by a Marvel movie where a disabled white guy studies mystical Eastern philosophies, but I’m grateful my religious affiliation provides me with better spiritual guidance options than Tyler Perry’s BOO! A Madea Halloween. No joke, Queen’s A Kind Of Magic started playing on The Mandarin Centre’s speakers as I exited my Doctor Strange session, hence why I stuck around long enough to notice by far the weirdest non-CGI effect I’d seen all day. Nothing snaps you out of your immediate urge to go home than beholding something so out of the ordinary, you have to backtrack and confirm what you’ve just witnessed isn’t an insomnia induced hallucination. Standing before me was the physical manifestation of Halloween’s Antipodean presence, the raw entrails by which the Asian Century’s omens could be interpreted, an Australasian symbol representing custody battles between American and Chinese foreign policy awaiting us as we strayed from our British Commonwealth’s irrelevance. Until I caught glimpse of this revelatory tackiness at The Mandarin Centre mall, cardboard bats on strings circling above a panda bear wearing a witch’s hat, celebrating Halloween in Australia seemed impossible to reconcile with local commerce refusing to accept globalism longer than I’ve been alive. Then it occurred to me the contradiction of Chinese communists rejecting superstition yet still censoring spooky media like Ghostbusters (2016) might yield an alternate future for us similar to Taiwan’s current situation, where American capitalism clashes with Chinese superpower ambitions. You’ve probably heard arguments from Pauline Hanson’s One Nation or Reclaim Australia that we’re in danger of being swamped by Asians/Muslims any minute we all let down our guard, what these racist shock jock candidates neglect to mention is, besides our iron ore, food bank and coal resources we sell to China on a daily basis, our predominant national export is cray-cray behaviour. Chinese dictators will never conquer our wild hillbilly natures, in our Beyond Thunderdome ex-convict colony notorious worldwide for its nigh avant-garde lawlessness, communism stands less of a chance of surviving here than Starbucks Coffee. I took a picture of the holiday effigy, and already a spontaneous rebellion from an adorable Asian girl gangsta-leaning against its fluffy foot unfolded, disregarding authority at an early age seems to set the tone for the latter 2010s. This year heated discussions about banning greyhound racing preceded rumblings that we should do away with Melbourne Cup Day, if the race that stops the nation ceases, Halloween is its closest neighbour on the calendar we can adopt as its replacement. Australia’s booze-up catering is big business for local alcohol brewers and wineries, they’ll demand revenue lost via the animal welfare lobbyists closing down our racetracks gets supplemented somewhere else, they’ll co-opt Halloween soon. I reckon it’ll take a while before we hold our second referendum on becoming a republic, let alone what form our xeroxed adaption of Halloween festivities shall represent itself as, it’s why no-one in Australia can agree on whether or not we need to abandon trick-or-treating. It’d be different if Australians had Mischief Night to worry about, requiring annual outlets to placate teenaged vandalism sweeping the nation, but we don’t. Trick-or-treating hasn’t meshed well with our lifestyle, dropping-in-on-a-mate’s acceptable behaviour, so stranger-danger isn’t the biggest deterrent to Halloween’s success. We’re not afraid of pedo-randos sticking razor-blades in Snickers bars, our problem’s reversed: small children are accosting us for a bag of lollies despite no guarantee their desired outcome’s reciprocated, awkward interactions with said children who’re deprived of treats makes us uncomfortable. The kids are sad because they don’t get any candy, adults are heartbroken for ruining their evening. There’s gotta be more efficient distribution methods than this trick-or-treating crap-shoot, I cannot imagine Halloween gaining traction with Aussies unless obvious adaptation flaws are resolved, I can see barbecues and beer costume parties becoming our unique spin on Northern Hemisphere activities. Y’know how Americans have ugly Christmas sweaters in wintertime, whereas we celebrate our Christmas wearing board-shorts? Halloween needs to make concessions to our sensibilities the same way before everyone accepts it, global warming hinders us wearing black fabric covered latex masks which get all sweaty inside. And when that happens, everybody shall do the Monster Mash, it’ll be a graveyard smash.

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This is where we’re at as a society, there’s so much multicultural cross-pollination going on here, I don’t know where to start. PANDA WITCH!

Halloween’s Salem iconography associated with autumn is a weird fit for our warm spring seasonal climate, however I wouldn’t be surprised if its traditional heathenry gets a revival unique to our current cultural context. Australian feminists started wearing witch cosplay at protests after our first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard got deposed by Tony Abbott, whose Ditch The Witch protest placards cemented his misogynist legacy in our minds. Harry Potter is still weaving its magic amongst today’s youth, witch costumes were worn by a few little girls I’ve seen trick-or-treating door to door. I’m no Ballardian futurist sci-fi author, but if you asked me how we’ll all soon celebrate Australian Halloween, Fun Witch Costume Night seems to be the likeliest scenario of its adopted form. I was discussing J.K. Rowling in the car with my Dad when he was driving, and he talks about Harry Potter with contempt your pastor reserves for Slayer lyrics, when he took me to see Labyrinth at Dendy Newtown he ditched me to make business phone calls the moment David Bowie held his giant snake. I dunno what being raised by my paternal grandma in Bogan Gate did to Dad’s imagination, but having tasted her cooking before she died, I found out why my Dad’s cooking tastes the way it does. Mum made me and my twin brother throw away a rad Hairbutt The Hippo ouija board we found in Mad Magazine when we were kids, meanwhile I catch her marathoning Harry Potter movies on cable late at night after a long day of lawyering. She also made me discard this retro How To Learn Fortune Telling manual I bought at our school fete so I could lend authenticity to my fortune telling booth I ran for an afternoon; I’d roll probability dice you get in every d20 dice set you play Dungeons & Dragons with, serving as a human Magic 8-Ball for dude-bros embarrassing their friends by asking the 0-100% oracle dice whether or not their sexual orientations were secure. Halloween’s baffling resurgence signifies our counter-cultural craving for comfort during an era of Australian conservatism lacking art or imagination, Canberra erecting fences around Parliament House to deter anti-government demonstrations isn’t helping. If you follow me on Twitter, I’ve made occasional references to the Australian Christian Lobby, an entity whose sinister grasp upon government policy defies separation of church and state. I dreaded my hardline religious relatives visiting at Christmastime, due to me having to say grace before each meal, pretending for their sake I totally haven’t dabbled in the Black Arts since we last spoke. I hate going deep undercover, constructing an elaborate lie-puppet of myself based off my uncle’s condescending ableist assumption that my personal growth stunted ten years ago, propping up the corpse of my former faith to make Sackville-Bagginses happy. Sure, I’ll have to hide my blatant idolatry, by shoving poor Guan-Yu into the box I bought him in from Chatswood’s Buddhist Centre. It’s been a while since I looked forward to attending church youth groups: during the mid-2000s most qualified pastors who didn’t view Nintendo Gamecubes as a tool of Lucifer got supplanted by newer contemporary evangelical movements whose iPod playlist consisted of Hillsong hymns and little else, I completed an accredited Christian Ministry class in high school (intended for students who wanted to become pastors) earning my last course unit I needed to graduate. My Studies Of Religion teacher Captain Davidson was bestowed his title by The Salvation Army, he liked me enough to put up with my constant pirate jokes (Aye-aye Captain!) because an adorable autistic special needs kid can get away with that. Whereas my pastor/teacher for this Christian Ministry course I chose, bereft of any suitable alternatives, found blasphemous questions about whether or not Jesus Christ was a World Of Warcraft necromancer irritating rather than charming. Poor Tim Bowden, by the end of it he cringed like Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes, aware I wasn’t planning to devote my life to the Anglican church in the slightest. He went easier on me, a rare charity case student, understanding I wasn’t coveting Peter Jensen’s job. I just happened to be very annoying rather than malicious or causing deliberate disruption, some of my classmates weren’t vicar material either. In my experience Christianity encourages you to lie for the greater good’s sake, and as I punched the clock handing in my homework, I felt like the phoniest Christian ever born. Never mind my obvious depressive apostasy: the hellish Groundhog Day I endured doing the Pathways Program left behind by my best friends who graduated without me, was knowing without Tim granting me a passing grade, we were trapped there together. A Dad joke I told him kinda broke his saint-like patience (What style of martial arts does Moses practice? JEW-JITSU!), although troublemakers throwing their paper aeroplanes diverted his wrath away from puns. According to despicable Pure Flix movies like God’s Not Dead, atheism or even liberalism is attributed to personal tragedy like cancer or domestic abuse, whereas my conversion to Taoism resulted from something simple as buying my first copy of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching over the counter with Tezuka: The Experimental Films on DVD from an art gallery gift shop. Both two philosophical texts formed the solid bedrock of everything I believed, blaming my no-fault divorce from Christendom in the Mrs. Doubtfire sense upon teen-angst daddy issues feels reductive. Speaking of said daddy issues, if I truly hated my father, I wouldn’t have helped him acquire an Out Of Darkness hippy psychadelic rock album a burglar stole from his vinyl collection in the seventies as his fortieth wedding anniversary present. I’m sympathetic to the witches of this world, persecuted by cavemen who want all their covens snuffed out, we’ve gotta stick together and not let our magic die.

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Witches are better than politicians, don’t you think I’m right?

I’ve been catching up on horror movies I haven’t seen through SBS On Demand, which is what you do if you can’t afford Netflix, I’m surprised it’s taken me twenty-six years to sit down and watch John Carpenter’s Halloween. No wonder I’ve been celebrating Halloween all wrong, the correct instructions are right here in this film, everyone’s entitled to one good scare. Donald Pleasance as Dr. Loomis was great, between Halloween and Wake In Fright he’s skilled playing medical professionals with haunted depth. Next I sat down knocking John Landis’ An American Werewolf In London off my bucket-list, many film critics consider it to be the definitive werewolf movie worth seeing, I can’t disagree on conventional wisdom. I wasn’t expecting ghosts to feature as such a prominent plot point in the ultimate werewolf flick everyone remembers, but An American Werewolf In London contains several unorthodox ingredients I wouldn’t otherwise demand to be part of this recipe. I haven’t seen many real werewolf movies, as Universal Monsters lineup creatures go they’re an enormous gap in my horror lore database I need to fix, The Twilight Saga: New Moon doesn’t count. An American Werewolf In London answered several burning questions I had about why werewolves were among the scariest supernatural beasties European folktales had to offer, it explained in no uncertain terms why being a werewolf isn’t fun as Michael J. Fox’s Teen Wolf would have you believe. Viewing footage of London’s Underground tube in its full retro advertisement splendour brought me back to eating Christmas pudding with my uncle at Harrods, I was way too young to dine at any of Britain’s rural pubs showcased by An American Werewolf In London, the dream sequence with the German helmet-wearing werewolf machine-gunner surprised me. Transformation practical effects lived up to the hype, Rick Baker earned my respect, David Kessler being haunted by his dead buddy Jack in a porno theatre’s probably my favourite scene involving a lonesome dude drowning his sorrows in cinema since Heavy Traffic. Of course, WolfCop soon followed as a silly double feature B-movie, it may not have An American Werewolf In London‘s gravitas; but it’s got an unforgettable sex scene scored to Moonlight Desires by Gowan. An Aussie vampire film called Thirst (not to be confused with the same-titled, acclaimed Korean vampire film) was entertaining, shoehorning Elizabeth Bathory into a story set in Melbourne is the sort of preposterous alternate-history premise I’d come up with for my Trollslayer cybergothic horror novels, seeing a guy get electrocuted by telegraph pole wires and a lady drown in a vat of blood exemplifies how awesome our era of government-funded Ozsploitation was. Speaking of government-funded gore, David Cronenberg’s Scanners credits are very proud to announce this is indeed a Canadian export, why shouldn’t Canada be proud of their MVP? I know everybody loves eighties Cronenberg the best, I’ll defend seventies Cronenberg due to how he takes advantage of every messed up scenario his schlocky high-concept film can deliver, Scanners is so much more than its exploding head memes. We’re soon treated to a narrative containing all of the following elements: industrial espionage, modern art galleries procuring sought after conversation pieces created by reclusive mental ward patients (the second act gets stranger), phone-hacking telekinesis, women pregnant with psychic foetuses enabled by an underground conspiracy dependent on supplying them discontinued tranquilizer drugs so ConSec can take over the world. All these ingredients somehow congeal into a coherent screenplay, I’ll recommend Scanners for beginners needing an accessible David Cronenberg starter pack.

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Nothing about this poster is a lie, you will see Michael Ironside burn.

Hocus Pocus concluded my Halloween 2016 celebrations past midnight, ending on a good note of 1990s nostalgia for the very first video rental shop I ever frequented back on Mt. Tamborine in Queensland. The Hocus Pocus movie poster showing Bette Midler zapping lightning from her fingers which used to hang in the window display is seared upon my psyche, to an extent that buying the Blu-Ray disc at JB Hi-Fi and taking it home brought memories flooding back despite never having rented it on VHS at the time. As witchcraft movies starring Sarah Jessica Parker released by Disney go, I think it holds up rather well, it’s Kenny Ortega’s best work alongside Xanadu. R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series captured wistful suburbia with a similar Norman Rockwell paintbrush this movie used to depict a Halloween night coming of age story, maybe my current virginity might come in handy if an immortal alley cat needs freedom from his feline prison. Disney wouldn’t release a new kid’s movie which begins with a hanging again until Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End, pity Kenny Ortega‘s wasting Kathy Najimy on Descendants when they should’ve made Hocus Pocus 2 together; as long as 2016 doesn’t kill off our essential witch trio, a man can dream. Hocus Pocus occupied a weird cul-de-sac of pre-Harry Potter witch media where witches are straight up evil Satanists rather than young Melissa Joan Hart on Sabrina The Teenage Witch – the last time we saw their kind until Robert Eggers directed The Witch, The Craft’s Wiccan goth-girl slant gave it a cult-following amongst earnest practitioners and camp-loving gay men. Hocus Pocus attracts a similar audience, it’s not hard to see why, three divas chewing the scenery playing cauldron-brewing wicked witches guarantees a fun matinee. Fallout 4 had a creepy abandoned museum level, unless you’re Scooby Doo, exploring them is a bad idea because it’s unlikely the monsters are crotchety old geezers wearing a mask. If there ever was a perilous situation where quoting The Simpsons “OH NO… BETTE MIDLER!” clip is warranted, Hocus Pocus would be it. She’s not Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard Of Oz scary, but she’s got the whole squad ready to abduct some children. Doug Jones plays a zombie whose mouth is sewn shut so he can’t blab any secrets even in death, compared to what ancient Egyptians did to Imhotep in The Mummy remake, Billy got off light. The witches in this movie adhere to Encino Man logic, allowing the screenwriters to crack jokes at their antagonist’s confusion between contemporary technology and magic, Max threatens them with a sprinkler system and absconds with their eyeball spell-book bound in human skin. I can’t help thinking Sarah Jessica Parker’s practicing for her Sex And The City audition when she’s creeping on Max, her Come Little Children song also has cradle-snatcher connotations I’m not sure Disney executives would approve nowadays, then again I’d prefer showing my future-kids Hocus Pocus over The Lone Ranger. The witches hit on a bus driver, running over Binx the cat, he re-inflates and traumatises a generation. Gary Marshall’s cameo in Satan garb was lost on me as a Millennial who had little patience for Happy Days reruns, Amanda Keller curated Fonzie’s shark-jumping on her proto-Reviewerverse Mondo Thingo in 2004. Following Bette Midler’s song and dance number, Max’s crew traps the Sanderson Sisters inside their high school’s pottery kiln, rejoicing as they’ve immolated three women alive. I forgot to mention the Bulk and Skull coincidental plagiarism going on with Jay and Ernie, the movie’s two bully characters. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers also came out in 1993 a month later, both Saban and Disney had similar sorceresses-menacing-teenagers ideas. Max drinks a potion to save his sister’s life, Bette Midler’s witch-trio turns to dust at dawn. Rob Zombie lied to us all, turns out you CAN destroy The Lords of Salem, whom God hates!

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The purple neon stigmata lights poking out of Sarah Jessica Parker remind me of that Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin Mary comic.

I’ve never been too Grinchy towards Australian Christmas, being born part of a pair of twin boys in January means my parents just gave us fun toys in December and useful stuff we needed like mobile phones for our birthdays. That said, the absence of seasonal affective disorder (which usually strikes hardest in July here) contributed to my happier Christmas mornings than certain individuals I follow on Twitter feel about their winter wonderlands. I can’t stress enough how much easier it is not having to shovel snow out of our driveways, despite Bing Crosby carols and Christmas specials on telly making several generations of Aussie kids wish we could have one taste of ugly sweater weather ourselves. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians covers this anthropological subject matter better than anyone who saw it on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 realised, because the film’s misleading title isn’t a lie, Santa Claus “conquering” the Martians is accomplished through Earth’s media soft power from the Martian children watching our programs and wanting their very own Santa Claus. The Nightmare Before Christmas always confused me as a child as to what the message was, although Jack Skellington’s disastrous attempt to colonise Christmas Town with Halloween mirrored my experiences more than I can imagine it’d resonate with American audiences. Danny Elfman’s iconic score for The Nightmare Before Christmas sure is catchy and all, but it’s hilarious remembering he once composed paeans to pedophilia and masturbation on Oingo Boingo’s debut album Only A Lad, it breaks my heart learning that post-Beetlejuice Danny’s embarrassed by his new-wave past when Forbidden Zone is an underrated gonzo musical he should be proud of giving us. Laika’s debut stop-motion animated feature later spawned Paranorman and Kubo And The Two Strings, its protagonist Jack Skellington earned Hot Topic millions of dollars; I’ve noticed feminists rallying behind Sally as this movie’s true heroine instead, I can’t blame ladies for railing against mediocre white male leads in 2016. Strange how I ended my months-overdue blog post, and this miserable year by critiquing The Nightmare Before Christmas, which this very article became due to tragedy preventing me from publishing what I had in mind. I had a great idea called The Enchanting Existential Dread Of Aussie Theme Parks, too bad Dreamworld just endured the worst accident since Luna Park’s 1979 Ghost Train fire, it didn’t seem respectful to families affected to do that Halloween special before the coroner concluded an inquest. My release schedule suffered as a result, I’m not announcing any future projects in the pipeline afraid I’ll jinx them, 2017 isn’t a new-year-new-me deal. Let’s face it, a lot of websites and message boards I used to frequent are straight up gone, I’ve outlived communities I thought’d be around forever. My megalomania’s been humbled by circumstances outside my control, The Existential Dread Of Aussie Theme Parks requires some setup, the saga of my country’s doomed amusement funfairs must be told when the stars align once again. I’m digging myself out of the rut I’ve been stuck in since graduation, I turned twenty-seven in January, I helped my twin brother move house. I pulled an Ocean’s Eleven heist smuggling furniture into his Redfern shared-apartment without Judy Hopps handing us parking tickets, Sydney isn’t designed for actual people to inhabit or transport your meagre possessions between rental flats. I’ve survived another Halloween, glad I followed through with it, don’t get me started on Valentine’s Day.

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I preferred Mad Monster Party to The Nightmare Before Christmas, kidnapping Santa won’t resolve your midlife crisis, Jack Skellington!
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