Halloween and the Dead

coffin netherworld

Last weekend, a friend and I went to the Netherword Haunted House event on Halloween. We went around 6pm, in hopes of avoiding large lines, but we still waited 40 minutes before entering the house. Some people were in costumes and most, like myself, were in casual attire with a terrified facial expression. It was my first and last time going inside a haunted house.

In class we’ve discussed how funerary practices and mortuary services often require some financial contribution, which supports the idea that associating with the dead creates a profit. In regards to Halloween, stores are able to raise their prices of candy, costumes, and pumpkins, which further  commercialize the holiday. According to various pieces of literature, Halloween is believed to be a time where the veil between the living and the dead is lifted. But the holiday can easily be associated with the fall season. Which is marked by the end of the harvest, leaves falling, and animals entering a state of hibernation, as we approach the “dead” of winter.

Halloween serves as a holiday influenced by the event of death itself. Throughout the haunted house, there were many images and props of the “living dead.” There were also individuals in each corner wearing some form of costume that represented zombies and famous killers such as Michael Myers. I found it interesting how relaxed people seemed to be with such gruesome images of the dead. I was somewhat uncomfortable throughout the entire time, especially when I stepped inside the fake coffin. I felt as if I was mocking the dead.

Is it ethical to make money off the dead and their image?




2 responses to “Halloween and the Dead

  1. I think you bring up a really good point about the relation of Halloween and death itself. The article you posted was very informative and interesting about the origins of Halloween and the Day of the Dead. As you stated, this holiday is when the realm of the living blurs with the realm of the dead so the dead could come visit the realm of the living. However, I also feel that there has become a very different relation between death and Halloween as you pointed out in your trip to the haunted house. I think people are making money off the dead and their image in haunted houses. In regards to Haunted houses and even horror films I believe their focus on death is mainly on the ‘bad death’ whether that be gruesome, horrifying and/or unexpected. I think it is not so much making money off of the dead but off of the fear and fascination people have of death itself. The scare-factor is what attracts people to these kinds of haunted houses. I think haunted houses and horror films can be quite distasteful at times in regards to death and its image, but I’m not sure I would call it unethical. I think it would be unethical if the haunted house was geared towards actual events that have occurred but in a general sense, I think the seasonal haunted houses are relatively ethical. However, houses open to the public that are said to be haunted either because of a murder or deaths, such as the Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, I feel fall into the category of unethical. In that sense, I do believe that one is making money off of the dead because someone had died in that house and people are coming to view the scene of the crime.

  2. I also went to the Netherworld Haunted houses. It seemed interesting to me the placement and popularity of the attraction. It was found at a random antique shop in the middle of nowhere on the side of the highway. There were many police officers and many, many people. It was my first time at this event and I have always been fascinated by being frightened. In my opinion these sort of events are not so much mocking the dead but embracing our fear of death and making it into something that we can process and live with.
    There was an interesting mixture of people being scared and laughing. There would be screams and curses followed by desperate grabs for loved ones hands yet everyone who left the house smiled and hugged. The volunteers who worked inside were very respectful and had fun with what they were doing, many would make sure to back away from people who did not seem to be having a good time.
    Overall I would say that it was a good time. The practice of haunted houses is very curious but deep down I do think it has something to do with the manner in which we react to death.

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