Thursday, October 23, 2014

Halloween is Cancelled!

Let’s face it – the “Cemetery Traveler” blog is not all that scary. I mean, its mostly about making photographs in graveyards. Maybe a little creepy at times, but it won’t typically scare you out of your wits. I’m guessing that a lot of people find my blog and browse a few articles, hoping to be scared, but then leave somewhat disappointed. So why is it that people like to be scared?

A good topic to cover as we approach Halloween. Its all about controlled fear, isn’t it? A vast subsection of the American population likes to be scared a little. They like to be frightened – but on their terms. That’s why horror movies and novels are so popular, not to mention “fright nights” at mock-up “haunted houses” around Halloween. There are even people who will PAY to walk around in a cemetery at night! (Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia offers night photography tours through the grounds. People sometimes show up without cameras just for the experience! Now that’s controlled fear.)
Night photographers at Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia
 A friend of mine, who works at Laurel Hill, called me on his cell phone the other day. The connection was rather choppy, so I asked him if he could call me on a land line. He said, “Sorry, I’m out in the middle of the cemetery and there’s a dead zone here.” He’s probably used that line a million times but I always fall for it! Cemeteries can be frightening places for many people. There is a different kind of fear there – fear of the unknown. What’s happening there under our feet, what will happen to us after we die. Even after traveling to hundreds of cemeteries internationally over the last fifteen years, I still run across graveyards that just look creepy! Its like they just can’t help themselves.

Cemeteries may not look so forbidding in the summer, but in the fall, when things are beginning to die (at least here in the northeast portion of the U.S. where deciduous trees abound), they take on a more stark appearance. Sure, the orange and red leaves dress them up a bit, but that only lasts a few weeks. Then the trees are bare, the air gets cold, and soon the snow begins to fall.

Not many people crave real fear, the actual thing. Consider the current (October 2014) situation in the counties in northeast Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountain region, where Halloween has been cancelled. Suspected murderer Eric Frein (who supposedly ambushed PA State Police officers and killed one on September 12, 2014) is still on the loose. There have been two sightings near the Pocono Mountain East High School (Swiftwater, PA), where a witness described a rifle-toting man with mud on his face. Think those residents are thinking about trick-or-treating?

Suspected killer, Eric Frein (ref)
Thanks to Eric Frein, there’s no Halloween. It's been cancelled. The fact that controlled fear has been replaced with the real thing might get people thinking about fright nights a little differently. The manhunt continues as I write this, six weeks later. Schools have been closed, hunting season has been cancelled. Again, there will be no Halloween. Night time, as usual, is the scariest time. Consider this account of a Swiftwater resident interviewed by CNN:
"Every night, every day, but mostly at night, the helicopters would be flying over our house, waking us up at 1 o'clock in the morning," said Cory Batzel, in Swiftwater.
He said he's not afraid, except at night, when he believes Frein might be on the move.
Reference and further reading: