Ray’s passion for all things Halloween goes back to when he was four or five years old with his imaginary friend Colleegia, who had a pumpkin head and a ghost’s body.
“I think it started there because every time I see that pumpkin image it reminds me of a friend or something that took care of me, like Mary Poppins or something,” he says from his home at the Roosevelt Historic Apartments, an eerie-looking former all-girls school built in 1927 and converted into apartments in the late 1980s (see left). The endless hallways and interior color scheme echo the Overlook Hotel from “The Shining” so much that you half-expect to turn a corner and run into the film’s creepy twins. And yes, Ray moved there because it looked spooky.
His first Halloween costume was Bugs Bunny. As he grew older, he took more and more interest in and ownership over the holiday. By 12, he had taken over putting up the Halloween decorations every year at his family’s Riverdale home. His interest never waned as he made his way into adulthood, and his enthusiasm has won over potential critics.
“I’ve learned that people enjoy when people are doing something they’re passionate about, because some people just aren’t passionate about things,” he says.
“The last Sparkle Hooves was in Out On Film and people were laughing, but then the credits roll and it says ‘Ebola Entertainment’ and you hear people go ‘Ooooooo,’” Ray says, laughing. But he says he’s used that name for years and has no plans to change it now.
He’s been a frequent participant in the Little 5 Points Halloween Parade, either with Chamber of Horrors, Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse or this year, Adult Swim. He dressed as a banana and sang the song “Banana Split Girl” to the tune of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl.”
Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse was created by Plaza Theatre owner Jonny Rej and Shane Morton, master of ceremonies at the Silver Scream Spookshow. Rej and Morton reached out to Ray when the idea was in its infancy.
“Jonny and Shane were like, ‘What do you think about an apocalyptic truck stop kind of place?’ and I was like, ‘You had me at apocalyptic,’” Ray says. He’s taken part ever since.
“That’s probably the first movie that scared me when I was little,” Ray says. “I have memories of lying in bed with a cover over my head and it was on TV and you hear the music and I remember going, ‘Shut the fuck up with that music, I don’t want to hear that music.’”
But he learned to embrace the fear and gain an appreciation of it over time.
“You realize that that was important that I was scared. It’s okay to be scared,” he says. “I can’t imagine not having those memories of being afraid because now I can’t watch movies and be scared. I can tell you if it’s scary for other people, but I’m not scared watching it. I miss being afraid of watching something.”
He doesn’t hesitate to name the most overrated horror films, citing the “Saw” movies.
“I love violence and I love vulgarity and blood and guts and everything but I just think their characters are weak,” Ray says.“You should be able to take these characters, pull them out of the movie and put them in a grocery store, and would you still want to hang out with them in a grocery store? If that works, then I think you got cool characters.”
“I’ll have to work at the [Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse] haunted house for sure, I probably won’t get out of there till about 1 or 2 in the morning,” he says. “But I will have a lit pumpkin there.”
Eddie Ray’s Top 10 Halloween Movies
1. Halloween: The best horror film of all time because John Carpenter is gold. I thanked him once for the joy he brought to my life. 2. The Fog: A John Carpenter classic, everything about this film is brilliant to me even the score. 3. Trick ‘r Treat: This film is incredible and should be a staple film to watch on Halloween. You will learn a lot about the season in this film. Do yourself a favor: buy this film today. Do not rent it, buy it! 4. Halloween II: A sequel that made me scared shitless of hospitals and was just as fun to watch as the first. 5. The House of the Devil: This throwback to the 1980s is gold and it is quiet, moody, scary and satanic. Watch it and you will be spooked. The Director Ti West knows what he is doing. 6. The Return of the Living Dead: The best zombie movie ever made, and some of my favorite dialogue in film period. Amazing soundtrack too. 7. Hellraiser: Humans are the bad guys in this amazing horror love story. 8. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood: My favorite of the Jason Voorhees/ Friday films. The teens ruled, and the telekinetic concept is amazing to me. 9. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master: My favorite of the Freddy/ Nightmare films. The teens are fucking incredible in this film. 10. The Descent: This film made me jump twice. I don’t ever jump in movies. The plot is simple and brilliant and gave me a panic attack.