Friday, October 3, 2014

Aliens and Halloween

Halloween is traditionally a time of things spooky, scary, and fun.  As an autumnal festival associated with the end of Summer and the beginning of Winter, a liminal festival, it marks the passage from the time of the year of warmth, light, and growth, into the dead seasons.  After Halloween we move into the festivals of the colder months, the feast of Thanksgiving, the evergreen Christmas and the ringing in of the New Year.  Halloween is also associated with the harvest.  The imagery of the corn stalks, the pumpkins and the lonely scarecrow whose duty is done and may join the party are common to the holiday.  The associations with the dead, such as the ancient belief that the dead return during this time have blended together with the harvest and the various other ideas to bring us a monster filled holiday celebration replete with ghosts, goblins, witches, vampires, werewolves, scary clowns, aliens, Frankenstein's monster, boogers and haints and whatadamnminute...aliens?
I believe this needs no explanation, Earthbeing.
Yes, I believe I did say aliens.
 For many years now aliens have been a part of Halloween decorations, costumes and imagery.  Aliens are by no means in the majority, but there are enough of them to qualify as a significant minority.
Do aliens belong in the Halloween season?
This I wish to explore.

The Alien-Horror Connection
Strictly speaking, this guy is an alien
I mean no disrespect when I say this, for I love Halloween, obviously, but say it I must: Halloween is sort of the B movie of holidays.  Think about it.  What do the other holidays have going for them?
New Years is a very adult party holiday full of drinking and often mawkish behavior.  There is not a mascot, per se.
Thanksgiving is a family-oriented feast that kicks off Christmas (Macy's parade, you know who always gets the key final spot).  The turkey gets a spot as something of a mascot, I suppose.
Christmas is the single largest commercial holiday in the world and it has deep religious significance for countless people.  The symbols of Christmas are very happy and hopeful. Santa Claus is the presiding chief secular mascot, but there are several others like snowmen, reindeer and elves.
St. Patrick's Day has become, in America at least, an excuse for drunken belligerence from people that mistakenly think that they are Irish.  Leprechauns and shamrocks and public vomiting are the symbols.
Easter acts as a happy return of Spring, lauded as a fertility festival by the pagan community, the resurrection of Christ by the Christian community, and generally is looked upon with a sense of reservation regarding its celebration.  Again family oriented, low key, dinners, and a bunny mascot.
Arbor Day, Labor Day, various other Days, all have their fans but as far as decorating, giving of gifts, and parades, not so much.  Very reserved in those departments.
Halloween, on the other hand, encourages the outlandish, the garish, and the wonderfully macabre.  Halloween home decorations have the same sensibilities as the best of the drive-in movie posters always did.  You see zombies rising side-by-side with giant spiders while ghosts cavort with witches and werewolves.  No single era can define it.  The goal seems to be to cram more and more spooky or silly things together.  It is not an official holiday.  You don't get a day off from work, the banks don't close and no two people can seem to agree on what it is for, but we all do it.  It is out there, like a crazy advert for a movie and it has become conflated with horror in general so that, really, it is the wonderful celebration of, well, scary shit.
I have discussed the sci-fi to horror connection before and that is relevant here.  Aliens have been a part of the horror scene since way back.  After World War II the classic monsters had lost their punch with audiences.  The kids would come to love them anew when the Shock Theater package was released to television stations in 1957 but for fresh scares kids young and old were looking to the skies.  The Space Race was on and aliens were the new monsters (along with ATOMIC MUTATIONS to be absolutely fair).  Science Fiction had officially arrived and it made a great companion for horror monster movie fare.
Mars Attacks is a classic example of the youth interest of the is that not horrific (and wonderful)?
With the gradual move of Halloween from a traditional, somewhat spooky harvesty thing into a larger all-around spookfest, it only seems natural that aliens would be a part of it.
And why not?  There are those who will say that ancient supernatural beliefs can be explained by modern science, such as sleep paralysis and multiple personality disorders.  Indeed these same things are linked to alien abduction tales.  Are not aliens then part of the human mythological landscape?
Whoa there, Rook, you are getting way too serious and deep.
Maybe so, but what I am establishing here is that aliens, robots, space monsters and sci-fi are part of the monster/horror landscape.  If we are celebrating Halloween as a holiday about scary, spooky things in toto then we should not ignore this sci-fi connection.

Personally, I'm torn on the subject.  I like sci-fi stuff, especially the dated stuff from the Space Race era, but a part of me really likes for Halloween to be an Old World thing.  Not specifically European; that's not what I mean by Old World, but rather a supernatural thing.  Still, plenty of paranormal shows treat us to aliens alongside Bigfoot, el Chupacabra, and ghosts.  Do we not watch television shows where the investigators use technological gadgets and pseudo-scientific practices to search for the supernatural?

There are many choices for the alien fan for Halloween in terms of costuming and some decorations as well.  Long gone are the days when we had to rely on monster masks to hide us from the returning spirits.  Now Halloween is a celebration of our deepest desires, reflected by the choices we have in costuming.  Kids know.  Just ask them, "What are you going to be for Halloween?" and see.  When a kid puts on a Halloween costume they are not just dressing up, they are being that character in their hearts.  How many times my plastic mask and vinyl jumpsuit protected me from the nightmares stalking the dark of that wonderful night I can't tell you.

Alien, robot, witch, werewolf, ghost, zombie or what have you.  What are you going to be for Halloween this year?

Fire up the atomic batteries; flip the positronic switches; give this pumpkin LIGHT!

"Stay tuned, hoomonz, I have much more to show you."


  1. A good primer for Pumpkin articles to come.

  2. The Confederation of Galactic Pumpkins thanks you for your support.