Off the Record: Halloween turning into Fright Night

Off the Record

I’m not sure when it happened, but Halloween is turning into Fright Night.

Now, Halloween has always had an element of fright involved with it. It’s a holiday based on the old Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), a night when spirits were free to walk the earth, and people lit bonfires to keep them away.

Over the years the Celtic festival became mixed in with Roman and then Church holidays, and it evolved by the time I was a kid into a night for trick-or-treating, dressing up in costumes and eating candy until your Mom made you stop.

Today, however, Halloween has become a darker, more sinister holiday, a time for watching grim, gruesome slasher movies, and going to “haunted houses” where you pay money for people dressed as zombies, ghouls and crazed killers to jump out at you and scare the bejabers out of you.

It is not for the faint of heart or weak of bladder.

I know a lot of people love a good scare. They binge watch “Friday the 13th” movies, or “Nightmare on Elm Street I through MCDXLII.” They go to the haunted houses for laughs and complain if the creeps aren’t creepy enough.

I’m more of a classicist. I’ll take Frankenstein and Dracula over Freddy Krueger and Michael Meyers. Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi at least had the class to kill their victims off-camera, instead of disemboweling them in front of you.

So as much as I like the State Street Theater and Turner Hall, I won’t be heading to your scare parlors the next couple of weeks. I’ll be home watching “Young Frankenstein.”


Kevin Sweeney has been the managing editor of The Journal since May 1985. A native of St. Paul, he worked at newspapers in LeSueur and Albert Lea before moving to New Ulm. Contact him at


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