ATL's King of Hal­loween:

Ed­die Ray em­braces hor­ror of the hol­i­day.

GA Voice - - Front Page - By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS psaun­ders@the­gavoice.com

Ed­die Ray be­lieves in Hal­loween.

He doesn’t just like to dress up for a cos­tume party or put a bowl of candy out on the doorstep for the neigh­bor kids. He be­lieves in Hal­loween— the his­tory, the rit­u­als, the mythol­ogy.

“I un­der­stand the dec­o­ra­tion part of it and ev­ery­thing, but you’re sup­posed to have a pump­kin lit on Hal­loween night wher­ever you’re sleep­ing be­cause it wards off spir­its,” he tells the GA Voice.

Ray has taken that long­time belief and ded­i­cated Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber of ev­ery year to cel­e­brat­ing the hol­i­day and spread­ing Hal­loween fear, be­com­ing the event’s big­gest ad­vo­cate in At­lanta.

When he’s not work­ing as a pro­duc­tion co­or­di­na­tor on shows like “Squid­bil­lies” or “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” for Adult Swim, you can find the gay East At­lanta res­i­dent work­ing at the At­lanta Zom­bie Apoc­a­lypse haunted house, shoot­ing a Hal­loween­themed ver­sion of his “Sparkle Hooves” web se­ries, work­ing on his lat­est short film, rid­ing a float in the Lit­tle 5 Points Hal­loween Pa­rade or fin­ish­ing up his lat­est short film “Satanic Panic 2: Bat­tle of the Bands,” pre­mier­ing Nov. 22 at the Buried Alive Film Fes­ti­val.

‘YOU HAD ME AT APOC­A­LYP­TIC’

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. 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.

All the videos and short films Ray cre­ates are pre­sented un­der his pro­duc­tion company, “Ebola En­ter­tain­ment,” the YouTube ac­count of which re­cently passed two mil­lion views. How­ever, re­cent head­lines have led to some com­menters talk­ing less about the con­tent it­self and more about the Ebola virus.

“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.

“Johnny and Ste­wart 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.

‘IT’S OKAY TO BE SCARED’

Ray also has a popular movie re­view blog with over half a mil­lion hits so far, and the con­tent goes Hal­loween-heavy once the sea­son rolls around. He re­cently posted an ex­ten­sive guide to Hal­loween in At­lanta, and he once pre­sented a rank­ing of his fa­vorite Hal­loween films, or as he called it, “My Top 35 Spooky Ass Films I Watch Dur­ing Hal­loween.” The 1978 John Car­pen­ter clas­sic “Hal­loween” nabbed the top spot, of course.

“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.”

He’s go­ing as “Scooby-Doo” vil­lain Zen Tuo to this year’s Rock and Roll Mon­ster Bash on Satur­day, Nov. 1, but as for the big night on Fri­day the 31st?

“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.”

Hal­loween fa­natic Ed­die Ray in his el­e­ment, sur­rounded by Hal­loween and hor­ror film mem­o­ra­bilia (Photo by Pa­trick Saun­ders)

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