Officials have been visiting Aleppo this week, as judging continues of the cities on the shortlist for the much coveted Vincent Price Spirit of Halloween award.
The competition, which was started by legend of horror Vincent Price in 1978, highlights a select few places where the ghoulish spirit of Halloween is truly celebrated.
“After 1 day in this city, I have to say I am very impressed,” said head judge Roderick Usher. “The level of commitment here is really quite extraordinary.”
When asked what he was so impressed by, Mr. Usher told us:
“The sets are simply wonderful. You would think, walking down virtually any street in the city, that you were in some dark dystopian nightmare.
“Everywhere you look, there’s something there. Some little detail. Beneath that pile of rubble there may be a child’s doll, slightly burned and stained with blood.
“You could turn a corner and catch a glimpse of a filthy, terrified mother; she’s clutching her baby to her breast as she ducks into a doorway to avoid a volley of gunfire.
“Music is being piped in from somewhere, so there’s a constant soundtrack of small arms fire, explosions, screaming. It really does feel like I’m observing a living nightmare.”
Many have tipped Aleppo to take the top prize this year, closing out close rivals Caracas and San Salvador.
We asked fellow judge Helen Lyle for her take:
“For me, it’s the level of participation that really puts Aleppo in the lead. For example, we visited a ‘hospital’ earlier today. It was full to bursting. Men, women, children, all there. It seems like the whole city is getting involved!
“And so much work has gone into making the injuries look so horrific; wailing children missing limbs or shell-shocked old women disemboweled by shrapnel.
“I saw one old man, totally lost in his own performance, lamenting the loss of his entire family. You really can almost feel a sense of desperation and loss here in Aleppo. They should be very proud of what they’ve put on.”
Judging will continue throughout this week, with the winner announced on the 31st. Good luck Aleppo!