Sunday, October 5, 2014

Aliens and Halloween: Prepping the Invasion Fleet

That title probably doesn't have anything really to do with what follows.  From the writing of H.P. Lovecraft (of which I am not fond) to the attempts by aliens to take over our world using the recently buried dead to haunted house movies in space (Alien) to modern genetic body horror, Science Fiction and Horror have been intimately linked.  Indeed I have often argued that something might look like one genre but actually be of a different genre just wearing the trappings of the former.  Like a film transvestite, if you will.  Flying Frog's when-will-it-be-released game Shadows of Brimstone looks like a western, but it is really a dungeon crawl with Lovecraftian monsters.
Go on, tell me that's not an "homage" to old H.P.
This does not mean that all works are this way, of course.  Genres can blend and mash up in various ways to produce some truly good products.  The aforementioned Lovecraft was writing fantastic fiction (weird fiction if you like) and while his creatures are primarily beings from beyond our galaxy (or dimension, even) the works are meant to frighten us as he works out his neuroses.  Modern fans and critics tend to call Lovecraft horror, but the elements of science fiction are all there as are the elements of mystery.
Films such as Forbidden Planet and the Blob are considered genre classics of science fiction, but both feature alien monsters and in the former an iconic robot.  Robots, aliens, space men, these things make up science fiction and yet these things are also part of the horror genre.  If Halloween has become a celebration of fright, of horror, of the generally spooky and a time for indulging in our fantasies of costuming, then it is only fitting that aliens, robots and space suits figure into it somewhere.
Take a look at the choice of costumes available at the major online and retail outlets (such as Spirit Halloween or Fright Catalog) and you will find a wide variety of choices including the whimsical, the trashy, the spooky, the gory, the horrific, and among all of these types there are science fiction options, including aliens, robots, space suits and steampunk.  With the large number of licensed costume choices you can be a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy if you like.  If masks are your thing there are many options, some truly frightening, that feature aliens or demonic space figures, including the xenomorph from Alien and the eponymous Predator.
1982 saw the film E.T. the Extraterrestrial become a smash and E.T. merchandise was found all over the place, including Halloween costumes.  Since Halloween is a time of indulging in fantasies through vicarious thrills and costuming this comes as no surprise.
There is no shortage of horror aliens in media and since that is the case we have to trust that aliens belong with in the Halloween scene legitimately.  Although personal taste is really what it's all about at this festive season, isn't it?  If we sit down to a vampire movie and the vampires are space slugs that inhabit human bodies turning them into blood drinking monsters are we not still watching a vampire movie?  It might be that such is not your personal taste, however.  That's fine, but live and let live, yeah.
Werewolves from the moon?  Sure, why not?  Atomic powered werewolf?  Nobody would make that movie.  Except they did, in 1956.  No shit.

All of which is why we can now call H.P. Lovecraft's work horror when it is about alien entities from dimensions and stars beyond mortal fathoming.  It is also why I am exploring this topic this season.

So before we get into the meat of it, I want to talk about Space Robes and Collars.
Remember a while back when I talked about gauze as a cheap way to simulate ectoplasm?  (Well I did)  Robes are an easy way to get more "bang for the buck" out of a costume.  Robes are great for ghosts, evil priests, grim reapers, non-specific but highly threatening evil-doers and so on.  Robes hide unflattering figures.  Robes are cheap and easily produced.  Robes are not of any specific time period.  Thus we will see many aliens in robes, I'm afraid.  It evokes the celestial ideal, I suppose, due to a similarity to religious iconography.  Also Greek philosophers.  Collars are another matter.  Since the days of the sumptuary laws that limited the size of the man's ruff in England, the collar has been a hotly debated piece of fashion.  Collars change with seasons these days, but in space the HIGH COLLAR DOMINATES.  Yes, nothing says advanced life-form like a collar so high you lose 80% of your peripheral vision.

Strap yourselves in and let's blast off on this wild rocket ride!

Pumpkins lit?  Good.

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