Opinion Column

Rein back the waking nightmare of Halloween

By Ada Slivinski, 24 Hours Vancouver

 (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

I wandered into Shoppers Drug Mart with my two-year-old yesterday to buy dental floss and bubble bath. As soon as we walked through the sliding door, we were affronted by a life-sized skeleton dressed in a pirate coat and hat, leaning down as if it were looking at us. My daughter stopped and trembled. “Too scary Mama,” she said in a little voice. After calming what have become more frequent fears of monsters under the bed, I’d have to agree.

As soon as summer ended, stores were decked in Halloween decorations and, while I understand big costume shops and adult-oriented stores will be full of the newest, best and scariest, those places kids frequent should tone it way down. Those streets and shops where families walk should be a whole lot more G-rated.

In 2013, a British man was ordered to take down his Halloween decorations because police deemed them too scary for neighbourhood children. 25-year-old James Creighton has “decorated” the front of his house to resemble a slaughterhouse — fake torsos with guts spewing out and bloody chainsaws scattered across the lawn.

Just last week, in Greeneville, Tenn., a “decoration” consisting of a headless body pinned under a garage door with bloody hand trails running down the door above it prompted 911 calls. The Greene County Sheriff’s Department actually posted an image of the scene to social media with a message telling people not to call the cops but, “Instead, congratulate the homeowner on a great display.” I don’t know about you but I certainly would not be knocking on the door of a house with a headless body outside to “congratulate” the homeowners on anything.

Fear is a normal and healthy human response meant to put our systems on high alert so we can fight or flee any danger. For those who enjoy horror movies (full disclosure, I am certainly not one of them) or roller coasters, putting themselves into a situation with a bit of contained fear can give them a fun adrenaline rush (or so I hear). But the difference is that, in a relatively short amount of time, that experience is over. Now, for over the course of an entire month, gruesome, creepy and downright disturbing things are popping up in what should be the most mundane of places. Does Shoppers really need to sell dead-looking dolls, prominently displayed by the cash register?

For horror movies there’s an age rating, not so for walking into a drug store. In the interest of protecting or most innocent and vulnerable, let’s keep the R-rated “fun” in adult places at this time of year.