A Friday the 13th in November is to horror fans what Italian Christmas is to American Sicilians. It’s a perfectly timed, almost gluttonous Gregorian gift dedicated to those of us still mourning the rotting of pumpkins, price jumps on DVDs, and questionable glances from coworkers at our refusal to take those those Halloween decorations. Sure, that silver glittered skull head looks a little conspicuous next to paperwork, but on this particular matchup of weekday and date, it’s as natural as a turkey at Whole Foods.
In other words, think of today as an encore of October 31st, only a little more secular and a lot less obvious. Others may scoff--or more likely, ignore--your enthusiasm, but that’s no reason to not celebrate this rarity in the style of your choice. Here are a few suggestions for how to make the most of this pagan loved, Christian trashed, and slasher film revived holiday of a different sort.
1. Relive childhood terror:
Every horror fan has one true love, and by love, I mean that first film that invaded your nightmares and forced you to say “Mom, dad...we’re gonna need a bigger nightlight.” See how much you’ve grown by revisiting the boogeyman you knew before puberty proved to be more frightening. Most likely, you’ll laugh at your past softness and how tough your skin has turned but on the other hand, you just may reawaken a long dormant inner turmoil ready to churn its way into modern buttery psychosis. Don’t pretend you’re not excited.
2. Face your fear:
For Lars Von Trier, it’s flying. Billy Bob Thorton, antique furniture. Homer Simpson? Sock puppets. Most of us outgrow some of our minor phobias, like a too-informed Santa Clause, the dark, or what happens if you eat watermelon seeds and drink water afterwards, but no matter how old you may be, the Visitors of V would still be able to identify your current dread and use it to torture out secret battle plans of The Resistance. Maybe you’re still unnerved by fuzzy spiders or can’t seem to breathe when standing at extreme heights. Use today as a true test of your strength. Ask the teenage part timer at your local PETCO to let you touch a tarantula or take a trip to your nearest open-to-the-public skyscraper. Sound too therapy inducing? How ‘bout renting a movie? Trust me: my coulrophobia has been cured following a laughable rental of Fear of Clowns.
3. Make every decision based on a coin toss:
What to have for lunch: Chinese takeout or a sub? Call heads or tails and toss up your quarter. The real trick is that every time tails comes up, scream Nooooooo!, explain that this is the doomed option, and choose it anyway. Guaranteed to annoy those around you and, if they’re self-reflective, cause them to reevaluate any former beliefs regarding their superstitious leanings.
4. Treat yourself:
So how many elementary aged witches and goblins hit you up for those Reeses two weeks ago? If you’re like everyone I know with a door, the answer is, quite sadly, a handful. So what’s the backup plan for that bowl of fun-sized Snickers? It’s almost time to make room in your pantry for canned pumpkin and candy canes so I recommend you do yourself a favor and purge the cabinets of all Halloween candy. If your karma is low, bring it to work and make sure your office mates know who’s fattening them up. Otherwise...well...Snickers has protein, so what’s stopping you from plastic bagging your lunch?
5. Sound and fury:
Unsubstantiated superstitions annoy me, but none receive my throaty disgusted sigh with more phlegm than those of the theatre world. My favorite (to hate)? Ye olde curse of the Scottish Play, better known to most sensible people as Macbeth. Legend has it that Shakespeare’s tragedy is so dramatically cursed, just saying the thane’s name inside the walls of any theatre will summon enough bad luck to make sayings like “break a leg” sound not so figurative. Because I find this stupid and not at all because I once auditioned for a play in college with a monologue from Macbeth and didn’t get the part because I didn’t know this rule, I heartily despise this superstition. My solution? Be a cultured antisuperstitionist and see a show tonight. Enjoy it. Clap and discuss its theme. Just rename your date for the evening Macbeth and be sure to say his or her name at every chance you get before the curtain falls. And at intermission. And on your way out.
6. Karaoke with Christopher Lee:
You know what’s great about DVDs? Subtitles. You know what’s great about 1973‘s The Wicker Man? Well, pretty much everything but for the purpose of today, let’s go with its music. Sadly such classic ditties as The Landlord’s Daughter and Sumer Is Icumen In didn’t go platinum, but that doesn’t mean they don’t go well with a big screen TV, a few musically inclined friends, and a lot of Guinness. Hold your own pagan sing-a-long in your living room and videotape it for posterity and blackmail. Nudity optional (just like Britt Ekland’s rear).
7. A Necessary Remake:
There are few things you should love more than the original Wicker Man, but one such activity worthy of adoration is making fun of Neil LeBute’s woefully misguided, painfully misconceived, and laughably misogynist remake of the same name. It’s easy enough to poke jokes at Nick Cage’s kung fu moves and bear suit brawling, but do you really think you could have done a better job? There’s only one way to find out: invite that same incredibly open group of friends over, pop in the rented DVD (because your money should be going to a better cause, like charity or Netflix) and take turns dubbing the Oscar winner’s lines. Bonus points for capturing his pained whine and bee stung screams with just the right amount of confusion and ham.
8. Monster Makeover:
Since many Halloween decorations are autumn themed, it is indeed possible to keep some of your favorites on display through the dearth of November. Then again, you may also be forced to explain why your dancing ghost candy dish is appropriate when everybody in the office is planning Thanksgiving dinner. Rather than gain a reputation as the lazy employee with bad timing, transform your pumpkins and ghouls with a more seasonal look. As you can see, all it took for my CVS rag witch was a post-it, two rubber bands, some leftover Halloween feathers, a paper clip, Q-tip, and the top of pen box and she’s become a regular contestant for a politically incorrect Thanksgiving pageant.
9. Cheers, Mr. Voorhees:
No Friday the 13th is complete without, well, some form of Friday the 13th. It’s easy enough to pop in your boxed set or tune into one of the random cable channels sure to be airing a marathon, but why not make it a little more interesting (or just inebriated) with a perfectly suited drinking game? If alcohol isn’t your poison, might I suggest a fresh bag of half priced candy corn? Either way, toss in any one of twelve Crystal Lake adventures and take an unhealthy serving of bodily harming evil every time any of the following occurs onscreen:
-a final girl demonstrates her uptightness with an apprehensive glance or turndown of sex
-a class clown character tries to joke with Jason, only to then freeze, hold a stupid smile followed by a “what the fuuuuh,” and open his or her mouth before a scream is silenced by a brutal and fast slaying
-Jason tilts his head
...and so on. Feel free to edit according to whichever installment you choose. For example, I’d expect anybody watching Jason Takes Manhattan to take a gulp at every shot of Rennie’s cheap gold necklace or actorly tears.
Have any more advice? Hurry and post it. Otherwise, remember it carefully for the next big Friday: coming soon in August of 2010.