Written by Jonathan Wojcik
TOP THIRTEEN MOST HALLOWEEN POKÉMON
You all know I'm down with the Pokémans (see? I even used the "e" with the thing!), and I can't for the life of me explain why I've never combined the subject with the very holiday that spawned me until now, but I'm glad I didn't, since this year there are nearly around six hundred and fifty of the damn things to pick from and the Black and White generation brings us some of the freakiest creeps to ever fit inside a pokéball.
Regular readers/obsessive stalkers know by now that Gloomy here has always been my favorite pokeymonster of them all, a sentiment few others share. I've placed him in the bottom spot to compensate for the potential bias in including him at all, though you can't deny a depressive, nocturnal, slobbering, rotten smelling, withered looking, poisonous weed is about as creepy as a flower monster can get without, like, planting seeds in human kidneys or something. Gloom isn't based on anything directly pertaining to Halloween, but embodies a spooky autumn vibe nonetheless. His unevolved form, Oddish, even draws its inspiration from mandrake root - famous for its supposed use in witchcraft - while one of his evolved forms, Vileplume, is based on the aptly named corpse flower, Rafflesia arnoldi.
This is another one I may just be biased towards, even rivaling my unhealthy adoration for Gloom. However, the very thing that makes Garbodor unpopular with other fans is precisely why he belongs on this list: this living, sentient pile of festering refuse is easily one of the most monstrous and grotesque creatures to ever ooze its way out of Gamefreak's art department. A pure poison type, It begins its unnatural existence as Trubbish, a bag of trash inexplicably brought to life by chemical waste. When it evolves into the bigger, meaner Garbodor, its body is torn asunder by its own rotting contents, its former "skin" dangling like a tattered mask over its gnashing, bug-eyed face. Misshapen, asymmetrical limbs and an exposed "skeleton" of piping give it a sort of decomposing corpse aesthetic - a shambling, bloated zombie of living pollution, with snaggly teeth more than likely made out of broken glass. From his oozing sewage pom-poms to his stinking compost toes, Garbodor is even ghastlier than gastly, and that's gastly's NAME!
Damn it. I already included Parasect in Pokémon zoology, a top ten list I did of fungus monsters and a dozen other places I've talked poglemens. I keep promising myself and the internet that I've said all that can be said about perry, but here we are, yet again, and what choice do I have? Here's a bright orange, dead-eyed insect whose body and mind are slave to an infectious, parasitic fungus drawing beautifully from morbid real-world parasitology. The entire species is practically dead, a race of mindless insect puppets worn like mobile exosuits by a brain-sucking plague. Even without these "zombie" connotations, both insects and mushrooms have their place in the season, and the color scheme doesn't hurt, either.
This psychotic little ghost type supposedly represents a cloth doll or puppet thrown away by a child, brought to life as a Pokémon through the sheer force of its inanimate hate. Haunting alleyways and garbage dumps, Banette are said to search for the children who forsook them and injure themselves with pins to inflict voodoo-like curses on their victims. None of this explains why they all look the same, all evolve from Shuppet or can reproduce sexually and lay eggs like most other Pokémon, but it's a pretty wicked story...and just look at the little bastard! With the eye slits and zipper teeth, I always thought it looked like a cute little S&M gimp. Spoooooky!
The ghost type Mismagius is both a classical Halloween witch and an undead banshee, but if there's only room for one pointy black hat on this list (and trust me, there is) I honestly have to give Murkrow the honor of witchiest 'mon. It may not have powers as mystical as a ghost type, but Murky was one of the first "dark" Pokémon ever revealed to the public, a Pokémon type defined by its dirty, treacherous fighting tactics. Corvidae - the crows and ravens - are already recognized as nature's gothest avians, stars of Edgar Allen Poe's most famous work and major scavengers of rotten corpses around the world. Said to be an omen of extreme misfortune, Murkrow's witchy "hat" and "broom" plumage are just icing on the kreepy kake.
Half "ghost" type, half "dark" type, Spiritomb is among the most abstract Pokémon by being not just some crazy, swirling ghost-face, but a whole legion of malevolent supernatural entities - supposedly 108 of them - imprisoned in a small stone at the bottom of an ancient well. A fracture in the stone allows its occupants to leak into reality but never fully break free, manifesting a green and purple vortex of ghostly energy with a maniacal Jack O' Lantern grin. What actually happens if its collective spirits escape? Do they go their separate ways, causing mischief and mayhem around the world? Or do they remain in a single form, vastly more powerful and terrible than they ever were as the half-contained Spiritomb?
Another contender for the most morbid, Cofagrigus's unevolved form, Yamask, is explicitly stated to be the spirit of a deceased human being, while Cofagrigus itself is said to contain an actual human corpse in its casket-like body, or better still, engulfs living victims to mummify inside itself. How wonderful a concept is that? I really love the whole aesthetic of an inanimate coffin animated by shadowy, amorphous energy, and Coffee's video game ability, "mummy," is the first Pokémon power to function like a pandemic; if a 'mon comes into physical contact with Cofagrigus, its own ability also changes to "mummy," which in turn continues to spread through contact. This damn thing is an entire mummy factory.
Prickly desert vegetation isn't something we usually associate with the Halloween season, but this "dark" and "grass" type monster is designed to give the impression of a scarecrow, its name derives from "nocturne" and its face is about as close to a Jack O' Lantern as any Pokémon currently manages. According to the Pokédex, these things spend the daylight hours standing as motionless as a real cactus, but come alive in darkness to stalk prey through the desert, waiting to strike when their victim grows weak. Can you imagine the sheer terror of getting lost in a sandy waste where the cacti start to follow you from dusk to dawn, drawing closer and closer every night as they wait for you to collapse? I would pay to see that scenario applied to a feature length horror film. They wouldn't even have to be Cacturne, just give me any nocturnal walking cactus movie and we're good.
There are several unrelated bat-based Pokémon flapping around these days, but Gliscor here and his little brother Gligar bizarrely combine all the traits of a bat with a giant scorpion, and yes, their bat side is sanguivorous. With those mad yellow eyes, capelike wings and scaly red highlights, Gliscor is the most vampiric looking fiend in all pokeydom, and while likely not intentional, always gave me a strong El Chupacabra vibe as well. Nobody can really settle on what the legendary "goatsucker" looks like anyway, but some descriptions have included gliding membranes, bulging eyes, bat-like and even insect-like features, so Gliscor is surely as good a goatsucker as this one or this one.
#4: Mow Rotom
Rotom is definitely one of Pokémon's most novel concepts, an electrical ghost one can extract from a fuzzy television somehow still functioning in a crumbling old mansion. By entering and animating various household appliances, the sparkling specter can take on a variety of different shapes and elemental attributes including an icy refrigerator and fiery toaster oven. Only one, however, leers at us with a predatory grin full of jagged, sharky chompers, and if a green and orange, presumably flesh-eating lawnmower brought to life by a poltergeist isn't Halloween personified, what the hell is? Lucario? Ew! You like Lucario!?
As adorable as it is terrifying, Chandelure begins as the darling little candle-like Litwick which evolves into the moderately more sinister Lampent and finally an entire haunted chandelier straight out of some vampire lord's manor. Best of all, the whole family is said to use souls as the fuel for their blue flames, siphoning off and burning the energy of living beings after luring them to their doom, much like certain Will O' the Wisp legends.
Yes, I really do feel that this sadly unpopular Pokémon embodies Halloween better than the vast majority of its brethren; a vividly yellow moon is one of those Halloween symbols many of us take for granted. It's always there, framing the shadow of a bat in flight or illuminating the contours of a crumbling castle. What's more, Lunatone is in fact a levitating, psychic meteorite, and its sinister red eyes are said to have a hypnotic effect, instilling all who see them with paralyzing fright. Designwise, I love how the beaklike mouth runs into the gaping eye sockets. No self-respecting Mismagius or Murkrow should be without a Lunatone to pose in front of.
While this list could have easily been filled up by ghost types alone, no Pokémon is anywhere near is ghostly as Duskull here, a giant freaking humanoid skull with a tattered, shroud-like body. Nicknamed the "requiem" Pokémon, Duskull is used by human parents of the Pokéverse as a conveniently real bogeyman to scare their bratty children into submission. Coolest of all is Duskull's single, luminous eye, which rocks back and forth from one empty socket to the other like an ominous pendulum, ticking down its opponent's lifespan. It's really too bad that its evolved form, Dusclops, abandons the skull motif entirely, and I always found its further evolution into Dusknoir an unreadable mess of a design. Sure, I like clopsy's penetrating stare and the giant face on Noir's stomach, but Duskull shouldn't even need an evolution. Duskull is perfect. He's not even my personal #1 favorite, and I'm still forced to admit that he may be the single most flawless design in the franchise. He's adorable and disturbing, bad ass and ridiculous, all in the same delicate balance as Halloween itself.
Now, it's at this point where fans of the series are wondering in a betrayed fury why I didn't include the original ghost Pokémon, or any of the "legendary" ghost types, or such appropriate contenders as Houndoom, Mandibuzz or even another of my personal preferences, Sableye, but as a self-proclaimed expert on both Halloween and made-up cartoon monsters, I can assure you this list is scientifically formulated to narrow down the very most halloweenest puggle men in the world, forever. Shut up.
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