Evil grows in the dark. And, sometimes, Halloween comes to town.
Horror, as a genre, works in strange ways. There are killer clowns and gruesome torture to test teenage mettle. Then, there’s the quiet, searching silence. Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes is the latter. Its poetry stands apart, a stately manor all creaks and cobwebs, timeless and terrifying. It’s a story about growing up and growing old—Something Wicked is a story about living forever.
When Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show blows into town, it comes with a lesson for thirteen-year-olds Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade. The carnival master, Dark, oldest of all, holds out the solution; another man, old but not without hope, will drag the problem into the light.
I won’t rehearse the entire plot, but it’s enough to say evil comes to town and its tools are terror. The shadow shows that arrive overnight and pitch their tents in our own lives may not bring a carousel or a calliope, yet they put on the same tired acts. People are as they’ve always been, on the coasts or in the heartland: the same fears, the same regrets, and the same dark desires. The most disturbing shadow, stalking behind and stretching before, is rooted at our own feet.
An appropriately dark thought for Halloween-time, or election season, I think.
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