Source: Tanya Moutzalias
For some Americans, Halloween didn’t give them enough real life terror and mayhem to quench their thirst and so Devil’s Night was born. Once known as “Mischief Night,” Oct. 30 began as a night of petty crimes and vandalism that grew into full blown mayhem and arson in the City of Detroit by the 1970s.
In the 1980s, Detroit’s underbelly had taken it on as their personal night of Hell, turning the troubled inner-city into a Devil’s Night badland. The city averaged 500 to 800 fires around Devil’s Night and in 1984 these Detroit’s Devils torched more than 800 buildings. As Alfred loosely explains to Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight, some men just want to watch the destruction of the world. And popular culture has held up a mirror to Devil’s Night, reflecting the tide of flame and violence in movies.
Members of the Insane Clown Posse, based out of Detroit, hail October the “Season of the Pumpkin” in a headless horseman fashion and hold Devil’s Night gatherings deemed “FrightFests.” It’s a veritable Juggalo badge of honor to do mischief and Psychopathic Records rappers like Boondox have played into the fever with songs like “Devil’s Night” for the label’s Hallowicked 2013 singles. The song glorifies violence with shock-value lyrics such as “All hail Devil’s Night the blood is spilling.” Several other Detroit hip hop artists have also referenced the felon free-for-all, including D12’s debut album Devil’s Night, a rap song by Sonny, and Detroit metal band The Black Dahlia Murder mention it in “A Shrine of Madness.” The Oct. 30 debauchery hasn’t gone unnoticed by Hollywood either.
In Eminem’s 8 Mile, an abandoned crime house is torched in reference to Devil’s Night. In Grosse Point Blank, starring John Cusack and set in a Detroit suburb, character Debi Newberry mentions her apartment being set ablaze on Devil’s Night.
The coup de grace, of course, is The Crow starring Brandon Lee, whose character is slain on Devil’s Night and returns for revenge years later on the infamous eve as a gang plans an arson spree, shouting “Fire it up!”
Popular culture and Detroit reality has swung both ways over the years. Perhaps what we should be asking ourselves, given the rise of inner-city frustrations, is will the flames rise on Devil’s Night 2016?