Halloween is fast approaching for another year so you might be looking for some great costume ideas for you and your kids. Some of you might have gone with a TV character or your classic angel and devil but others might have gone with the very well known Halloween monsters like Dracula or Frankensteins monsters. But where exactly did these Halloween Creatures come from and what’s their story?
Classic Halloween Monsters
The Frankenstein monster is a classic Halloween monster that most people know about. It originated from the book written by Mary Shelley in 1818, two years after she was pregnant with her first child who she didn’t actually name. This book tells the story of a young scientist named Victor Frankenstein who creates a creature in a scientific experiment. The first edition was published in January 1818 and was actually published anonymously. Shelley’s name was first mentioned in the second publication which was published in 1821 in Paris. The monster comes to life and inspires loathing in everyone who comes into contact with it.
We’re sure everyone is familiar with the werewolf but did you know it can also be called a lycanthrope? This comes from the Ancient Greek word meaning ‘wolf-human’ and describes the creature that can shapeshift between human and wolf. There is also a werewolf type creature in Indian folklore called a Yapum. The Yapum wants to protect the jungle, even if that means they have to kill for it, and can turn anyone into a Yapum by biting them. This person will then also have to protect the jungle for as long as they live.
Vampires are mythical creatures that live by feeding on blood often referred to as the vital essence of the living. If we refer to European folklore, vampires are considered dead creatures that will sometimes visit loved ones but will also cause a little bit of mischief or even death in neighborhoods they lived in previously when they were alive. Did you know that there are actually different types of vampires? Some of these include blood drinkers, soul vampires, genetic vampires, disfigured vampires, and emphatic vampires. Some famous vampires include Count Dracula and Morbius.
In typical folklore, a ghost is known to be the spirit or soul of a dead person or even an animal and they’re believed to be able to make themselves apparent to the living. The descriptions of ghosts also change a lot and they vary from an invisible presence to something that’s a little bit visible. Some people think that they sometimes present themselves in lifelike forms too. Necromancy is what people will do to try and connect with these spirits and dead souls and you may hear ghosts being referred to as a haunt, ghoul, spirit, spook, poltergeist, or apparition.
On our Halloween creatures list are the classic Halloween creatures like mummies and witches or something a little more modern such as Zombies
Mummies are a way to preserve the dead, whether that be a person or an animal, and the practice was very common in ancient Egypt. Many people might think that this can only happen when the body is exposed to a certain chemical but that isn’t the case. The body can also be mummified if it’s exposed to extreme cold, lack of air, or low humidity. Because there are so many ways that a body can be mummified, so many Mummies have been found on many continents as a result of natural preservation. This is a great way to delve deeper into history and understand more about our past.
Lots of people believe that witchcraft still exists and not in the way of Harry Potter or wicked ladies flying around on brooms. But more manifesting and using different techniques to will something to happen as well as looking into the future.
Lots of people from African and Melanesian cultures believe that evil spirits would live inside these witches and in some parts of modern day Africa, witches are still hunted. In the medieval periods of Europe, people would accuse women of using black magic to turn against their own community as well as talking to evil beings. These suspected witches were then banished, killed, or intimidated. They would often be prosecuted and punished in public as well if they were found guilty or there was a belief that they were guilty. These witch hunts and witch trials meant thousands of women were executed and some of those women were even midwives or healers.
The Grim Reaper
There are a couple of different ways that death has been personified and this changes from culture to culture but the most popular is probably the Grim Reaper. It’s believed that the Grim Reaper not only guides you to the afterlife but also has some say in when a person dies. The Grim Reaper will come to a person and collect their soul, which will end their life, and then lead them to the afterlife. Another version of Death is one who has no say in when or how a person dies but instead is just there to guide them to the afterlife.
Zombies are mythological undeads who are made through a reanimation of corpses. These figures are most often found in the fantasy and horror genres in movies and TV shows. The word zombie actually comes from Haitian folklore where it’s a dead body that’s reanimated through different methods like magical practices and Vodou. A lot of media these days don’t really show the magical part of zombies but take more of a sci-fi approach like fungi, vectors, pathogens, mental diseases, and even scientific accidents. Of course, the list goes on.
Famous Halloween Monsters
Ghouls originated from pre Islamic Arabian religions and describe a demon like figure or even something a little more human. These creatures are closely associated with graveyards because of their need to eat human flesh. Female versions are called Ghulahs whereas the Ghoul is the male version but it’s believed that the Arabic Ghoul is a female who is sometimes referred to as Mother Ghoul. Many fairy tales and folklore depict her as leading characters, who were usually men, into her home where she would later eat them. In other folklore, people believe that the Ghoul is a shape-shifter who can take the form of a hyena and then lure people into the desert to eat them.
The Headless Horseman
This mythical figure has been around in folklore since around the middle ages. This figure is normally portrayed as a horse rider with no head on his horse. In some legends, the horseman carries his own head but in others, he is looking for his head as he has lost it. Some examples include the dullahan from Irish heritage which is a demonic fairy who is often portrayed carrying his head under his arm and riding a horse. In the gothic story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow features this Headless Horseman who was believed to be a Hessian soldier who lost his head by a cannonball in a battle.
Bloody Mary is a story of a ghost or sometimes a spirit who would reveal the future to anyone who conjured her. When chanting her name repeatedly, the legend is that she would appear in the mirror. The original ritual would get young women to hold a candle and a hand mirror in a dark house and to walk up their stairs backward. As they looked into the mirror, they were meant to see their future husband’s face but, there was also a chance that they’d gaze into the mirror and see a skull. If they saw this skull it meant that they’d die before getting the chance to marry. But, in today’s age, this woman appears to whoever chants her name 13 times and she’ll appear either as a corpse, a witch, or a ghost and it can be friendly or evil. It’s commonly covered in blood which explains the name. It is stated that the participant must endure the apparition doing a variety of things like scratching out their eyes, taking their soul, or drinking their blood.
Clowns have always been a favorite for kids’ birthday parties and entertainment but when did they become a Halloween favorite? Well, you can probably connect this back to the release of the ‘It’ films but people very quickly turned the, otherwise harmless character, into a Halloween horror. This became very popular in 2016 when people were dressing up as Clowns and waiting in places such as next to forests or schools in order to scare people. This caused mass hysteria as the ‘killer clowns’ were seen in nearly every US state by October 2016 but it was later discovered that the original killer Clowns were indeed a marketing ploy for the new horror film ‘It’.
Pop Culture Monsters
Every year popular Halloween monsters and creatures are heavily influenced by recent movies and pop culture.
You’re probably all familiar with the Stephen King book ‘It’ which was later turned into a movie that followed the ‘Losers Club’ on their hunt for Pennywise. Pennywise is a mythical being who comes around every 27 years to prey on children but somehow goes unnoticed by adults. The film starts with a young boy, Georgie, being killed when he’s out in a storm and tries to chase his paper boat that’s fallen down a drain. Pennywise was of course the culprit of the murder and so Georgie’s older brother Bill and his friends go on a mission to hunt and kill the clown that took his brother. Stephen King came up with the idea of Pennywise when he decided that clowns were the thing children feared the most. He also toyed with the idea of a troll like being but decided clowns were ultimately scarier.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter is a famous pop culture character who was made by Thomas Harris who was a novelist. This serial killer eats his victims and is therefore a hannibal. Before he was captured, he was a forensic psychiatrist who was actually quite well respected. After he is incarcerated, he is approached by the FBI agents Clarice Starling and Will Graham to help them find other serial killers that are on the run. This character has been portrayed by lots of different actors like Brian Cox, Anthony Hopkins, Gaspard Ulliel, Mads Mikkelsen, and Aaran Thomas.
Jack Torrance appears in the famous book and movie, The Shining and is the main antagonist in this book in 1977. In the novel’s screen adaptation of 1980, Jack Nicholson depicts this character. According to the American Film Institute, this character is rated as the 25th greatest film villain of all time. Jack Torrance was also chosen by Empire magazine in 2008 as one of the 100 best movie characters. The Premiere magazine also did the same in their version of this list. He grew up in a catholic setting in the middle class on the United States’ east coast and his father was mentally and physically abusive to all of Jack’s family. A deep misogyny was also rooted in him when he thought his mother was pathetic and weak. The evil spirits that inhabit the Overlook Hotel eventually make him insane and drown him in his alcoholism, past trauma as well and fears of him becoming as abusive as his own father. These spirits try to get him to murder his own family with a mallet. His son Danny suddenly develops psychic abilities and he tries to protect Jack from these evil spirits. The question is, does he manage?
Michael Myers is one of the main characters from the Slasher film series. Michael Myers is first seen when he kills his older sister Judith Myers when he was a young boy but he isn’t finished there. He later returns to his hometown, 15 years later, to continue his killing spree of teenagers. He is seen as pure evil and something that cannot be killed by bullets or stab wounds. The inspiration for this character came about when John Carpenter visited a mental institution on a college trip and visited some of the more seriously ill patients. Among them was a young boy who gave a ‘schizophrenic stare’ which was unsettling and creepy and therefore inspired the Michael Myers character.
If you are still looking for the perfect Halloween costume to give everyone a scare this year then any from our spooky creatures list will definitely hit the mark. But maybe you want to with more traditional Halloween monsters to get that definite scream.