The Conversation

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It’s Halloween again, where all things ghostly and haunted come to the surface and we willingly engage in weird activities that give us the creeps. Or it can just be another excuse for children (and adults, let’s face it) to eat chocolate. It’s also a great excuse for us to publish stories about vampires, werewolves, ghosts and haunted houses.

In our special Halloween newsletter, English lecturer Eric Parisot tells of how fan fiction writers have given Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy a vampiric bite, while early childhood academic Carol Newall provides some tips on how to watch scary movies with your child.

We’ve also ruffled through our archives and pulled out some goodies, like a psychological insight into why some people are hell-bent on doing things that scare the hell out of them.

Sasha Petrova

Deputy Editor, Health + Medicine

Darcy, played here by Colin Firth in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, has morphed from dreamboat to vampire in recent fiction. BBC

Mr Darcy as vampire: a literary hero with bite

Eric Parisot, Flinders University

A Mr Darcy Halloween costume anyone? How the brooding hero of Pride and Prejudice has been reinvented as a vampire.

Watching with a parent, checking the facts, and exposure therapy can all help a child process a scary movie. Shutterstock

How to watch a scary movie with your child

Carol Newall, Macquarie University

There are various techniques that can soften the fear factor of a scary film: from talking about it to providing facts that contextualise the plotline.

Not everyone is drawn to horror movies, but some seem to luxuriate in frightful experiences. Flood G./Flickr

Trick or treat? The psychology of fright and Halloween horrors

Nick Haslam, University of Melbourne

Halloween is upon us. Why do we seek out experiences that we know will expose us to dread, disgust and terror?

Why believing in ghosts can make you a better person

Tok Thompson, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Ghost stories are often about the departed seeking justice for an earthly wrong. Their sightings are a reminder that ethics and morality transcend our lives.

Curious Kids: Are zombies real?

Marguerite Johnson, University of Newcastle

James, aged 8, of Sydney wants to know: are zombies real?

Why we shouldn’t be so quick to demonise bats

Justin Welbergen, Western Sydney University; Kyle Armstrong, University of Adelaide

We need balanced media reporting about bat-borne diseases to help avoid vilification of Australia's under-appreciated creatures of the night.

A dragon-led recovery: how a community is reaping the benefits of a spooky Halloween festival

Tony Matthews, Griffith University; Deanna Grant-Smith, Queensland University of Technology

Urban festivals built on community involvement can reinvigorate places and create a shared sense of place and purpose that lasts long after the event is over.


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