Halloween, celebrated round the world on October 31, is the dark side of a Christian festival, held on the eve of All Saint’s Day when the dead were traditionally honoured. According to scholars, it’s probably based on a pagan festival like Samhain and it’s ended up almost as commercial as Christmas. The name itself is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve, and that would make a decent question for a Halloween quiz.
Of course, nowadays Halloween means trick and treat gangs roaming suburbia (the sensible among us stock up on chocolate and sweets to avoid retribution from small ghouls and ghosties). You might think this a recent invention, growing alongside the boom in consumer culture, but in fact, historians reckon this American tradition has been going for over a century. That’s a nice piece of Halloween trivia suitable for a scary quiz. But you’d need some grislier material – and that’s where the movies come in.
In terms of influence on popular culture, this festival is massive. The eponymous 1978 movie, called simply Halloween, starred the daughter of one of Marilyn Monroe’s co-stars in Some Like it Hot. Who was she? Jamie Lee Curtis who played the bookish, innocent heroine Laura Strode in this, the first of a series of so called slasher movies. Perhaps even more significant was the identity of Curtis’ mother, Janet Leigh. In which Alfred Hitchcock film did she die in a manner that would forever make the shower a place of fear? Yes, Psycho. This film series is simply stuffed with Halloween-style trivia. Michael Myers, the stalker, apparently stabbed his sister to death when he was six and escapes when grown up to wreak cinematic havoc. But which big Hollywood star made his debut in the sixth installment, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers? It was Paul Rudd. The sinister goings on at the end of October have also cast their shadow over fiction. Which sci-fi writer penned the fantasy The Halloween Tree (1972) in which eight young trick or treaters discover a friend is at risk, cross time and space to save him, thereby learning the history of Halloween? Ray Bradbury, a nice answer to a nice Halloween quiz question.
Continuing on the Halloween trivia trail, which were the two most popular costumes chosen by adults on the West coast last year, according to the Los Angeles Times? Think warts, black pointy hats for number one and in the second spot, blood suckers. Yep, we all want to act out our inner witches and vampires.
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