Sociologists probably have all kind of insights into the popularity of Halloween customs, especially the costumes. (Nobody needs a degree in social sciences to explain the popularity of free candy.) I'm sure the ghoul factor gets some attention in the ivory halls, too. Every year the costumes and movies get more gruesome, and the anti-Halloween pontifications in newspapers and blogs more pronounced. What is going on?
The Mexican tradition for All Souls Day, the Dia de los Muertos, features skeletons galore, usually in rather comic representations, and skull candies. My understanding is that this is a way of mocking death, because Jesus put death to death by entering into it himself. That's pretty close to the origins of our Catholic celebrations at this time of year, because the original feast of All Saints was celebrated in close connection with Easter and then moved to coincide with the Celtic observances that gave a nod to our ongoing communion with the departed. But it would be quite a stretch to say that is what is happening at Halloween in el Norte. I almost wonder if it is the exact opposite; that what we see advertised for the Haunted Houses and in the costume shops (I'm not going anywhere near the movies) reflects the loss of a theological sense of death at all, a kind of shrugging "whatever" before the most ghastly possibilities because, ultimately, none of it matters anyway.
Still, to just pitch Halloween altogether seems like a sell-out. It's almost like saying that there is nothing redeemable at the root of the festivities; that it really is all pagan (in the worst sense of the word). That wasn't the attitude of the Church in the 5th century, when anything that could be re-interpreted in the light of the Gospel was "baptized" and taken in.
Can this celebration be "saved" again?