Halloween is and always has been my favorite holiday. I love dressing up, I love the chilly autumn nights, and I love the spookiness that hangs in the air throughout October. I love driving through my neighborhood and seeing houses that have been transformed into haunted mansions, seeing lawns transformed into graveyards with plastic skeleton hands reaching up through the dirt. It is this element of Halloween that I love the most: transformation. On Halloween, nothing is quite what it seems to be. A garish, illuminated grin is no more than a pumpkin. A fearsome monster is only a child wearing a mask. Everything is just a bit darker, but all the more thrilling for its magic.
Perhaps the most magical (and the most transformative) Halloween figure in contemporary times is the witch. Over time, the witch has seen a number of iterations and transformations. The witch has been an old hag, a beautiful enchantress, a dark figure, a friendly figure, an ugly crone, and a sexy temptress. So which witch is which? (I’m sorry; I had to.) How can the witch inhabit all of these identities at once?
The image of the witch we know today was originally created by the patriarchy as a way of ostracizing independent women. Thinking historically, women persecuted in witch hunts in Europe and North America were often women who lived alone and had knowledge of things they shouldn’t. As Kristen Korvette writes, “These were healers and midwives with intimate knowledge about sexual reproduction and the human body who threatened to educate a highly uneducated populace” and were thus punished. In addition to knowledge, these women also “raised suspicion by amassing too much land, wealth, or influence,” things that women at the time were not supposed to have. As Chloe Germaine Buckley says, the label of witch was used “to delegitimise powerful women and locate them on the outside of society.”
In contemporary popular culture, we tend to think of the witch in one of three ways. Korvette opines that the witch “…is all at once wizened hag, poison apple in hand; learned spinster, married to her books; and enchanting seductress with bared breasts and hypnotic stare.” (I will discuss later a fourth category of the “fun” witch.) The first witch—the “wizened hag”—might be what we think of as a “classic” witch, an old woman with warts, green skin, and snaggled teeth. The wizened hag witch draws her power from a rejection of society and its values, instead putting stock in what she can do to harm others.
The second witch—the “learned spinster”—lives alone, often on the edge of town or in the woods since she has been ostracized by her community. The spinster witch is often called upon for a magic favor (like a potion or spell) from the protagonist, who must make the journey to her far-off dwelling to receive help. While this witch is often not portrayed to be as violent as the wizened hag, the audience is still expected to be wary of her because she is a woman who lives alone and commits herself to books (in this case, spell books), rather than having a family or a husband; thus, she is not to be trusted.
The third witch is the “enchanting seductress.” This witch draws her power from her overt displays of sexuality as part of her plan to seduce men, in particular the male hero, into submitting to dark magic against their will. The seductress witch has knowledge of sex and magic that the “average” woman wouldn’t, making her intriguing to men. The seductress witch is also often depicted as having a sexual relationship with the Devil, making her sexual appeal even more deadly.
These three types of witches possess traits that originate from the patriarchal fear of independent women. The patriarchy fears the wizened hag because she has knowledge of things he doesn’t (magic) that she can use to take away men’s power. Patriarchy may also despise the wizened hag because of her old and ugly physical appearance, which refuses to cater to the male gaze that desires young, beautiful women. The patriarchy fears the spinster witch because she lives alone and is invested in literacy and education. Any woman who would choose this kind of life over a traditional one where she plays the role of wife and mother is a deviant. Her interest in education is transformed into an obsession with magic. Perhaps the most direct tie to the patriarchy’s historical fear of witches is illustrated by the seductress witch. Much like those that feared midwives and healers for their knowledge of sexuality, the patriarchy fears the seductress witch because not only does she have knowledge of sexuality that the “average” woman shouldn’t, but she uses it against men. Women who express their sexuality and sexual desire, then, are cast as witches who prey upon men’s “natural” sexual urges and turn him to a dark path.
While the image of the witch has historically been built on patriarchal fear of independent women, a surprising trend has emerged in recent years. In addition to the three types of witches described above, a fourth type of witch exists, the “fun” witch. The fun witch is seen most often in children’s and family movies like Harry Potter, Matilda, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Rather than seeking to harm, this witch uses her powers for the betterment of others. This witch is often seen as different from her peers, but she is not ostracized. In fact, after a period of time, she is accepted by her community after they see the good that her magic can do. Importantly, the fun witch’s independence is not something to be suppressed or feared: it is to be celebrated.
The witch is all of these women at once. As Halloween is all about transformation, it is only fitting that the witch is one of Halloween’s most prevalent images.
I hadn’t played golf since high school and knew I’d be way out of my league in a threesome with budding law partner Matt and Dr. Dave. They both owned custom-fitted clubs. Still, Night Golf sounded more appealing than my insurance adjustment gig. And it was fun until the zombies came out of the rough.
Matt connected solidly on his backswing with an undead whose rotting head flew back about ten yards. The body tottered then crashed forward, just missing Matt as he bent to pick-up his tee.
“Looks like a clean approach to the green. Nice one,” Dave said. The arc of the Pro V1 was like a red Technicolor tracer into the darkness. I shifted my gaze from the still twitching body, to the neon golf ball kicking down the center of the fairway, back to the zombie head rolling to a stop, an oversized coin, eyes open. Then blink—closed.
The guys holstered their clubs in their bags and climbed into their golf carts.
“C’mon, Preston. We have to go dig you out of the rough. Shake a leg.”
Dozens of shapes loomed along the perimeters of the country club. Holes two to eight were an island to themselves on this side of Bradley Blvd. Residential lights twinkled on the fringes. I shook my head, this couldn’t be happening. Maybe at Congressional but not here at Kenwood.
“You remember when we cut Benson’s English Class and played a round?” Matt said, grinning. He slammed his cart into gear and took off.
Dave blew beer through his nose. “Oh my God, that was the best.”
“That was 12th grade guys,” I said. I’d been at Whitman with them until my alcoholic father forced me to transfer high schools my senior year.
Dave ignored me, jerking the wheel of our cart sharply to the left, so I felt more than saw that we’d collided with another walker. Remnants oozed down the windscreen.
“Everybody else went to Carderock or Widewater, but we’d sneak in here and play 17.”
“Never got to play the last hole. Always had to sneak off or get caught at 18.”
“Preston’s slice is in the woods there,” Matt pointed. Dave stopped the cart and I got out.
“I don’t see anything,” I said. My voice pitched a little high. I needed another beer.
“It’s in there all right,” Matt said. “About ten yards that a way.”
I swatted at some brush, but I didn’t dare focus my eyes on the ground. I constantly scanned the woods for movement. Luckily there was a full moon, so it wasn’t as pitch dark as it might have been. I heard a nauseating crunch and was afraid to turn my head. I could hear the guys laughing. Maybe Dave had taken out another zombie with his Taylor Made driver.
My ball was blinking orange, nestled near a tree trunk. An unplayable lie. I’d have to take a penalty stroke. I bent and reached for the ball. Something swooshed over my head. A growl. Moonlight gleaming off fangs.
I backed up, fast, golf ball in one hand, Bridgestone in the other. Tripped over a branch like some teenager in the movies. Calculated the plausibility of impaling the beast with my 5-iron.
Dave laughed and aimed his Homma gold-plated driver at the snarling shape. With a tiny eruption, the werewolf fell to the ground.
“Let me see that sucker,” Matt said, and Dave handed over the driver. “Damn, you gotta see this Preston. Does the PGA know about this?”
“Silver bullets,” Dave said.
Matt handed me the shiny driver. I flashed on Steed and The Avengers. The handle folded down. Push button trigger. The damn thing was ingenious.
By now the werewolf had reverted to human form. Coach Swanson. High school golf coach who’d made my life a living hell. Kicked me off the team for skipping our match against Gonzaga. I was too busy sharing afternoon delights with Dave’s old girlfriend, Laurie. Which reminded me why I was out here on this cursed golf course. Alexis. Dave’s new girlfriend. I planned to tell him. Confess everything.
“Didn’t you shag his daughter one summer, Preston?” Matt asked, taking practice putts while I held the flagstick away from the cup, glued to the spot. “Ahem,” Matt said, and waved me over to the left.
I obliged. Though I could hear constant shuffling. That drunken stumbling zombie walk.
“Never did get along with him,” I said.
Matt made the two-putt. “That puts me up one. Let’s see now. Dave’s still at par—“
“Bloody hell,” Dave said.
“And that puts Preston down four shots.”
We climbed into the carts and sped off on the blacktop trail to the par 3 third hole.
By the par 3 sixth hole I was two shots down at 20, which was unbelievable since I was playing solely on memory. And even knowing the course layout in my sleep, and able to anticipate the greens, I didn’t know where the pins were placed and my buddies did. Scrambling at a supreme disadvantage and leading.
“Beginner’s luck,” Matt said, clearly miffed. His weekend stubble and Red Sox nation cap made his face nearly invisible.
“Let’s make it more interesting,” Dave said. “Bet the match?”
“No way,” Matt said, “Bet on every hole.”
“Let’s start at $20 a ball,” Matt said. “You’re good for that, right Preston?”
The undead continued to hound us. It was becoming routine to dismember them with a wedge or a driver. Lob body parts into the night with a well-placed bunker shot. I was beginning to have fun again despite my unwieldy rental clubs.
“So you said you wanted to tell me something, Preston. What’s up?” Dave said, popping another brewski. I’d stopped at Talbert’s earlier and provided the beer.
“Yeah,” I said, stalling. If I told him now they might just leave me on the course to fend for myself. Semi-lapsed Catholic that I am, I reached into my shirt and felt for the crucifix on the chain around my neck.
“Well, what?” Dave said.
“It can wait,” I said, “until the 19th hole.”
“You know what I was wondering?” Matt said.
“What?” Dave said.
“Where that new gal of yours is from.”
“One of the ex-Soviet Bloc countries. I can never remember which,” he said.
Alexis was from Latvia, a tall leggy blonde, and just about everything my hard little heart ever wanted. She was bratty, cruel, and oh so delicious. She read me the riot act when I bungled a pass — I couldn’t resist her — and when I stopped, dumbstruck, wondering what could have possibly possessed me — an easy six feet in heels — she asked if I understood in that accented broken English of hers. I said yes. Good, she said, and pushed me against the wall and stuck her tongue down my throat. I’ve never met a woman who was hungrier for sex. We’d been meeting for a month solid every Wednesday when Dave had his usual tee time. She complained that he couldn’t keep up with her. Me either, I’d quickly become an addicted, exhausted, guilty ruin who dreamed about her every night.
At the eighth hole Dave was trying to juggle a glowing green golf ball on his club a la Tiger Woods before turning and jamming the handle of the Callaway through the belly of a zombie in a gas station uniform. He put a foot on the sunken chest to extract it and then smashed the head to pulp, while Matt shanked a tee shot into the trees.
“Aggh,” Matt shouted and tossed his club off the fairway where it connected with something solid that crashed to the ground. “I always hated that f-ing club.”
“Come by the Pro shop,” Dave said, “I’ll hook you up with Potts. He can get you a good price on a Ping or S-Yard set.”
The trip back across Bradley Blvd was uneventful. I hoped everything that had happened so far was restricted to that isolated portion of the course. Perhaps the members had built on an unmarked graveyard or something? My mind desperately trying to find logical explanations for what was happening, though by now I thought nothing of swinging a club around like a ninja and littering the elite golf course with mounds of decaying flesh.
The ninth hole is a 517-yard par 5. It’s the longest on the course and the one that had often sunk my game in the past. There was a glow in the distance which, as we raced the carts closer, turned out to be the dying embers of a pair of golf carts.
“Looks like the previous foursome won’t mind if we play through,” Dave said. “Bummer. They tried to squeeze in one round too many before dark,” Matt said. “You have got to be ready for any eventuality.”
The carnage was too graphic. Viscera and blood trails. I whiffed my tee shot and then sliced into the woods 200 yards away.
“Uh oh,” Matt said, pointing back toward the clubhouse, “this looks bad.”
A golf cart approaching, but not on the blacktop track. What the? They were bouncing around on the green and heading vaguely toward where we stood.
“Can zombies drive?” I asked.
Dave had already turned his cart around, charging the lights like a knight on a four-wheeler, the moon shining off his head, his titanium golf club lance raised to the heavens.
“C’mon Preston, climb in,” Matt said. We gave some war whoops and were off in tepid pursuit — Matt more than willing to let Dave have at it with the motorized zombies. And have at it, Dave did. He drove circles around the undead and with a few well-placed whips of his club, beheaded the driver. It was impossible to count how many zombies were stuffed into the compartment, but they were powerless to do anything save groan as their driverless cart zoomed down a steep hill and slammed into a strand of ghostly trees.
The zombies thinned out considerably by the time we reached the 18th green just as the game was getting interesting. Dave was one under par, I’d overcome the shakes, some double and triple bogeys, and was one over with Matt two over. I owed Dave close to $80. He’d been winning consecutive holes on the back nine. I began to wonder if he wasn’t sandbagging me.
Matt muffed his putt and shot a bogey. I made par. It was all up to Dave now. Matt held the flagstick, while Dave took a few practice putts with his Heavy Putter. He was Mr. Intensity. He liked winning.
Dave made a slick tap and his glowing green ball zipped for the hole. My eyes locked on the rolling golf ball, though my mind scrambled with what I’d tell him after the match.
As the ball reached the lip of the cup, Matt swept skyward. I heard wings. It looked for a second like a white sheet had swallowed him. All went silent save for the hollow echo of Dave’s ball circling the cup rim and then Matt crashed to earth with a sickening crunch. Dave didn’t blink, concentrating only on the green rotations his ball was making. He raised his putter skyward as the ball fell. At least I think it did. I couldn’t see as a white shape collided with me and lights out.
In my dream I told Dave about Alexis. I even fessed up to the high school tryst with Laurie. Dave smiled and forgave me. He handed me a big red balloon. I was bouncing it casually in my hand when I came to on a plush chaise in the bowling alley. My head felt caved in.
“How are you feeling?”
I turned and there was Alexis in a floor-length white nightgown. I rubbed my eyes. Rubbed my head. She appeared to be floating.
“A nasty blow to the head,” she said, settling beside me on the crimson chaise. She smoothed my forehead with her ivory fingers, her eyes glowing.
“Oh Alexis,” I whispered.
“Hmm,” she said, pressing her lips against my neck.
“What about the others?”
“Others?” she whispered, maneuvering so that with the light, her body was visible beneath the sheer fabric.
“No talk,” she said, breathless and pouty. She pushed me back onto the chaise. I yanked the crucifix out of my shirt.
Alexis reared back and slapped my hand laughing, shaking her head. She was gorgeous.
“Un un un.” She shook her head smiling. “I was going to snack but now I think a meal perhaps?”
“Alexis,” I said.
She hefted me in her arms like I was a stuffed animal she’d won at the fair. And then something wooshed past me and Alexis let out a scream dropping me, before crashing across the eight Duckpin lanes a sizzle of smoke. My pants were wet.
And there were Matt and Dave in the shadows looking beat-up like extras from a Tarantino flick but still alive and laughing.
“You were right Matt,” Dave said handing him a wad of bills. “I was way too into her to notice that she was a fucking vampire.” Then he focused on me. “I was going to feed you to her you slimy asshole.”
“I was going to tell you tonight.” The sky was beginning to show traces of light and pink clouds. Had we really been at Kenwood all night?
“What’s wrong Preston? You can’t get it up unless I’ve been there first?”
“C’mon guys, let’s not kick a dead vampire around,” Matt said, he put one arm around Dave’s shoulders. “Hey, wanna raid the clubhouse? There must be some prime scotch stashed there ehh?”
What was wrong with me? I shook my head promising never to make a pass at one of Dave’s girlfriends ever again.
Matt was smiling, bouncing a red balloon up and down in one hand while Dave swiftly moved to clear away the chairs barricading the bowling alley.
“You knew she was a vampire?” I asked, making my way to a kneeling position.
“Holy water balloons,” he said nodding. “You just never know about Night Golf.”
In Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense thriller, Psycho, Phoenix officeworker Marion Crane is fed up with the way life has treated her. She has to meet her lover Sam in lunch breaks and they cannot get married because Sam has to give most of his money away in alimony. One Friday Marion is trusted to bank $40,000 by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a new life, Marion leaves town and heads towards Sam’s California store. Tired after the long drive and caught in a storm, she gets off the main highway and pulls into The Bates Motel. The motel is managed by a quiet young man called Norman who seems to be dominated by his mother. (IMDb)
About Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England. He was the son of Emma Jane (Whelan; 1863 – 1942) and East End greengrocer William Hitchcock (1862 – 1914). His parents were both of half English and half Irish ancestry. He had two older siblings, William Hitchcock (born 1890) and Eileen Hitchcock (born 1892). Raised as a strict Catholic and attending Saint Ignatius College, a school run by Jesuits, Hitch had very much of a regular upbringing. His first job outside of the family business was in 1915 as an estimator for the Henley Telegraph and Cable Company. His interest in movies began at around this time, frequently visiting the cinema and reading US trade journals.
It was around 1920 when Hitchcock joined the film industry. He started off drawing the sets (he was a very skilled artist). It was there that he met Alma Reville, though they never really spoke to each other. It was only after the director for Always Tell Your Wife(1923) fell ill and Hitchcock was named director to complete the film that he and Reville began to collaborate. Hitchcock had his first real crack at directing a film, start to finish, in 1923 when he was hired to direct the film Number 13 (1922), though the production wasn’t completed due to the studio’s closure (he later remade it as a sound film). Hitchcock didn’t give up then. He directed The Pleasure Garden (1925), a British/German production, which was very popular. Hitchcock made his first trademark film in 1927, The Lodger (1927) . In the same year, on the 2nd of December, Hitchcock married Alma Reville. They had one child, _Patricia Hitchcock_ who was born on July 7th, 1928. His success followed when he made a number of films in Britain such as The Lady Vanishes(1938) and Jamaica Inn (1939), some of which also gained him fame in the USA.
In 1940, the Hitchcock family moved to Hollywood, where the producer _David O. Selznick_had hired him to direct an adaptation of ‘Daphne du Maurier”s Rebecca (1940). After Saboteur (1942), as his fame as a director grew, film companies began to refer to his films as ‘Alfred Hitchcock’s’, for example Alfred Hitcock’s Psycho (1960), Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot (1976), Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy (1972).
Hitchcock was a master of pure cinema who almost never failed to reconcile aesthetics with the demands of the box-office.
During the making of Frenzy (1972), Hitchcock’s wife Alma suffered a paralyzing stroke which made her unable to walk very well. On March 7, 1979, Hitchcock was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award, where he said: “I beg permission to mention by name only four people who have given me the most affection, appreciation, and encouragement, and constant collaboration. The first of the four is a film editor, the second is a scriptwriter, the third is the mother of my daughter Pat, and the fourth is as fine a cook as ever performed miracles in a domestic kitchen and their names are Alma Reville.” By this time, he was ill with angina and his kidneys had already started to fail. He had started to write a screenplay with _Ernest Lehman_ called The Short Night but he fired Lehman and hired young writer David Freeman to rewrite the script. Due to Hitchcock’s failing health the film was never made, but Freeman published the script after Hitchcock’s death. In late 1979, Hitchcock was knighted, making him Sir Alfred Hitchcock. On the 29th April 1980, 9:17AM, he died peacefully in his sleep due to renal failure. His funeral was held in the Church of Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. Father Thomas Sullivan led the service with over 600 people attended the service, among them were Mel Brooks (director of High Anxiety (1977), a comedy tribute to Hitchcock and his films), Louis Jourdan, Karl Malden, Tippi Hedren, Janet Leigh and François Truffaut.