[By Alena Nadia]
Action-packed. Disorienting. In many ways, traumatising.
If you were at Taylor’s Lakeside Campus on the 26th of October, you would have seen what was playing out to be an unusual sight. Throngs of people decked out in costumes and face paint roamed the hallways of the Taylor’s American Degree Programme (ADP) classrooms that evening. Inciting the images of an abandoned fairground, all in the spirit of Halloween, Grapevine Club took on the theme ‘Freaky Funhouse’ for its annual Fright Night event.
With its assortment of carnival games and food stands providing unlimited gelato, cotton candy and popcorn, it was easy for many to tap into the psyche of a carnival-goer. Among other things, tarot card readers were also a popular attraction for those interested in a ‘3-questions’ reading of their worries about the present and the future.
Upon first impression was a recurring theme of red and purple hues played throughout the event. According to the President of Grapevine, Illiyeen Zulkiflie, it was intended to provide a playful ambiance, simulating a normal funhouse. She also cited the 2017 Hollywood blockbuster “It” as one of their biggest inspirations for the event’s theme. Faithful fans of the movie might have realised this as they were guided down the hallways by a circus clown under a cover of darkness.
If anything, it is marvelling that the organisers were able to transform these ordinary, and secluded hallways into an unlikely chamber of horrors. With every turn, brave souls were shot with a giddy rush of their worst nightmares by disfigured beings and killer clowns, reinforcing the fear of the unknown still vividly felt till this day. Keeping in mind the detailed planning that had gone into the event since January this year, it was not surprising that the night was such a big hit among students.
“It’s so hard to celebrate Halloween in Malaysia,” explained ADP student Nadine Qathira Sahzan, when asked about the popularity of the event.
“So, why not do it with your friends at Taylor’s? It’s an annual tradition for Grapevine. We get to scare ourselves and eat good food,” she continued.
She has a point.
Halloween, though somewhat celebrated in Malaysia, originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain dating back roughly 2000 years. It was held to celebrate the upcoming new year in the Celtic calendars. It was also believed that the transition between the end of the harvest season and the start of the winter—near the 31st of October—represented a period where dead souls would return to earth.
For many Malaysians, Halloween has become a constant feature in our own local pop culture. It was inspired by images of American children shows and Hollywood horror movies. Perhaps, our preoccupation with the celebration of Halloween has something to do with the reverence that Malaysian horror stories have about vampires and poltergeists in our traditions and customs.
Enticing and thrilling, I think it is safe to say that we are all looking forward to the next take on Grapevine’s Fright Night in 2019. For those who have sorely missed out on this round of heart-stopping, mind-boggling, and nightmare-driven night of fright, don’t worry—we have exclusive footage just for you!
Photography by: Daniel Sia Yi Da