"It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror... Horror has a face..." - Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, Apocalypse Now

I was at the Hy-Vee in Coralville today when I saw something out of the corner of my eye that both intrigued and repulsed me all at the same time. It was a pyramid of pumpkins, but not just any pumpkins...pumpkins with a face. Not a carved Jack-O-Lantern...but a face grown onto the pumpkin. Or, more accurately, a pumpkin grown into a face (mold). Frankenstein's Monster's face to be exact. Let me explain why this is so unsettling for me.

In a branch of philosophy that explores the nature of art, beauty, and taste called aesthetics, there is a thing called the "uncanny valley." According to Wikipedia:

[T]he uncanny valley is a hypothesized relationship between the degree of an object's resemblance to a human being and the emotional response to such an object. The concept of the uncanny valley suggests that humanoid objects which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit uncanny, or strangely familiar, feelings of eeriness and revulsion in observers.

In other words, you can't animate or draw or otherwise create the life spark, if you will, of an actual human being, so the more you make something look hyper realistic, the more it gets creepy, because they look like animated dead people. One particular case of this the film Polar Express. Although the filmmakers tried to animate the characters as realistically as possible, some found it to be very off-putting, causing one reviewer to call Polar Express a "zombie train." [Anderson, John (November 10, 2004). "'Polar Express' derails in zombie land". Newsday.]

"What does this have to do with pumpkins," you ask. Well....

Tom E. Gunn
Tom E. Gunn

This isn't a whimsical carving of a cartoony cutout smile with missing teeth and a triangle nose...This is a creepy freaking face staring at you from the pumpkin abyss. I don't like it. I want to smash all the pumpkin faces. It's just eerie. Even the Headless Horseman's pumpkin head wasn't this bizarre.

The worst part... the display is right at the front door, so I have to look into these cold, dead, pumpkin eyes as I walk into what used to be one my favorite places. No rest for the wicked this Halloween. No rest at all.

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