Written by Jonathan Wojcik
Welcome to Halloween 2016:
31 Favorite Past Halloween Features!
I'm writing this on July 30, 2016, and it's going up in two days on August 1st, the official start of our Halloween season. Every time a new one rolls around, it suddenly feels as if no time has passed at all - as if the months from January (the end of Halloween, obviously) to August are nothing but a hibernation period before I'm alive again. Is it really just because of Halloween, or is it because Halloween means I'm getting one year older and I'm just scrambling to make the most of it and care as much as possible about the passage of time?
Well, whatever. Today, we're going to take a self-indulgent look back at some past Halloween articles. Some are just personal favorites, some are the most popular with readers as a whole and some are continuously referenced by commenters to this day, so consider this either a "starter pack" if you're new and a "refresher" if you're old...and I'd totally love to get some nice new comments on some of this older stuff. Why do you ever stop!? A comment field is an ongoing indefinite narrative, forever!
In this 2011 article, I talked about a few monstrous beings that have enjoyed a low-key popularity in Halloween and horror culture, but aren't really being utilized to their full potential. Five years later, only one of them has taken off in the real world, with plague doctors basically becoming an overplayed trope of their own...but still not quite the pestilent ghouls they deserve to be remembered as.
What's Halloweenier than demented criminals dressing up as dead scuba divers? Nothing. Nothing ever. Had I done this article now, it would have probably been quite a bit longer and more elaborate, but I think I got some pretty good jokes out of this one.
Completely by accident, Halloween 2012 wound up heavily revolving around demons, which were never even among my favorite categories of monster, but the devilry kicked off with a look at some classical fiends that turned out a lot funnier than I even intended.
...In fact, I've honestly never thought of bogleech as a "comedy site," or myself as a "comedy writer." I write about what I find cool or interesting, and if it also turns out funny, that's just kind of a bonus. In some cases, of course, there's no way for something NOT to be funny, like when a book tries much, much too hard to be shocking, dark and grotesque.
What we're seeing in this illustration, for instance, is called a Vilisemen, and I don't dare spoil it further.
Funny enough, that Book of Fiends was intended to one-up the official Dungeons and Dragons "Vile Darkness" supplement, and it's kind of hard to decide which one is truly more hilarious. In this post, I looked only at the book's nastiest, most over-the-top spells and abilities, and once again, the sheer edgitude practically wrote the jokes itself.
In a quick but passionate rant, I discussed the ups and downs of zombies with a glimmer of hope that these over-exposed monsters might one day become scary again...or at least a little more creative. Now, four years have passed since this post...and all my complaints pretty much still stand.
A cornerstone of the Maryland Renaissance festival, the Museum of Unnatural History is pretty dear to me, and I was deeply excited to finally be able to talk about it here on Bogleech...though it felt kind of a shame to spoil too much of it on the internet, so the glimpse I give non-Marylanders is fairly brief. Some day, some how, I hope I can ever make something half as cool as this fake monster zoo.
Like my zombie tangent, this was another rallying cry for not just some more originality in our Halloween, but originality that should come with relatively little effort. I've always toyed with hosting an actual costume contest on this site with an emphasis on homemade eeriness, but I'm still not sure how good an idea that would be. I'm not sure I want to open up the can of worms that comes with asking people to send me pictures of themselves in weird clothes and subsequently judging them for it.
I sure did love these things. I don't know what it was about the Grave Bugs that got me so excited, besides the perfect storm of bugs, Halloween, skeletons and kitsch. Astonishingly, my question as to where these wiggly bug novelties originally came from was answered then the guy who literally invented them found this article and got a big kick out of it. We even talked back and forth for a while about me quite possibly doing some work for the company - because it still exists and it still makes these things - but communication sort of broke down and fizzled. I don't know if they were busy or I just scared them off, but it was all certainly unexpected.
Hit-me-hit-me-hit-me was my imaginary friend when I was a very small child. He was a grey, faceless thing that enjoyed hurting himself. Find out why!
I include this just because I don't think the Gregory Horror Show can never, ever receive enough appreciation.
I did a lot of weird, experimental, interactive stuff for 2013, including a fake, alternative version of the site and an entire now-defunct "hoax" site about fast food monsters, among other shenanigans. What may have represented the most effort, however, was this illustrated twine game in which you, the player and reader, explore a mansion haunted by creepypasta refugees and increasingly weird secrets.
For the life of me, I truly have no idea what possessed me to suddenly create and illustrate something so new and so complex in the span of just a few weeks. I'm not even sure I can remember how twine works anymore. I can never re-create this phenomenon.
If I do say so myself, this article is the funniest thing I've ever written in my life.
...Although, we glean some more of that juicy old grimdark comedy out of this detailed look at Mcfarlane Toys. Their rise and fall is still a sight to behold...not to mention sensibilities that were juvenile then and even hokier today.
With the help of a friend who kinda seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth, I took a look at an otherwise terrible hentai game with some phenomenal creature designs.
Another wildly obscure game that isn't all that fun to actually play, Produce at least presents us with some of the creepiest creatures I've quite possibly ever seen rendered in only three colors.
Berserk is a manga that definitely isn't for all tastes. It frequently isn't even for mine. One thing that's undeniable, however, are its positively breathtaking creature designs. I always meant to do another article or two along these lines, and I don't know where the time went. Anyone interested if I finally follow through this year?
Last Armageddon is a little-known JRPG in which the player leads a small army of evolving demons in a battle against space aliens. It was also my holy grail of monster reviews for years before I finally found an opportunity to explore its content in detail. I was even able to follow this up with a look at over fifty of the aliens, and there really aren't a lot of games out there with more stellar creature design or a more ass-kicking premise.
"Germs" by Worlds of Wonder remain one of my favorite childhood toy lines, an obscure collection of freaky, Hensonesque parasitic critters that came and went in the 80's with barely a splash, and thanks to an online friend of mine, I got the chance to share over a dozen unreleased concepts by the line's designer.
This was actually something incredibly exciting for me, and something I'd been eager to do for several years since I heard about the massive wealth of production art and other materials that existed for this obscure little property...but in the end, nobody else seemed to find it that interesting, and the post originally received only nine piddly comments. I guess I was one of only a handful of people with any nostalgia for a bunch of fake, rubber germs.
I sure reviewed a lot of borderline hentai in 2014, didn't I? Apocalypse Zero is an awful lot more than that, however. Prepare to unavoidably fall in love with Doctor Blob.
Find out why this little shit is so special to my wife and I, and anybody else with taste. Some day, even more Anpanman content may be coming to bogleech, so you'd better figure out what the hell Anpanman is, and then make yourself care about Anpanman as much as I do so you can get totally hyped.
A Halloween article can be a love letter to an evil, cartoon snowman. Why can't it!? My wife and I binged this entire cartoon show over the course of a year, and it's truly something special.
Probably one of my favorite site features in general, I spent over a month researching, writing, re-writing and illustrating for this look at what is easily one of the world's strangest, darkest and grisliest of all fairy tales - and one with a menagerie of weird, demonic parasites I didn't even need to embellish.
This is going to be re-relevant this year, so you may as well brush up on your torsos and vapors. We're eventually going to review every specter from the new 2016 film and its extended toy line, as well as the Extreme Ghostbusters cartoon and other ectoriffic features. I'm sorry for "ectoriffic."
The site's first foray into the subject of Tokusatsu includes a mosquito that's also a skyfish that's also Norman Bates.
Another game I waited an inordinate amount of time to be able to review, I still feel like no single game, perhaps no single work, has had a more perfect selection of gruesome beasties for its scope.
It took me long enough, but I finally devoted some time last year to my thoughts on the "core" Halloween monsters - ghosts, witches, vampires and beyond. Followed immediately by a sequel looking at a few of the more obscure examples.
Thanks to an old friend who happened to be in Tokyo at the time, we got to see some incredibly awesome Halloween merchandise from clear across the world!
I reviewed the monsters from every single core Silent Hill title last year, but I feel like the Homecoming review came out the most interesting, marking that moment when the series truly crossed the border between the tastefully unsettling and the comically grimdark.
My love for this animated classic remains complete and sincere, no matter how its merchandised, no matter who else latches onto it, no matter how many times the Oogie Boogie Song has gotten stuck in my head so vividly and loudly that I lost sleep. I took a fresh look at it last year, and to be precise, each and every single monster that appears in it.
It's permanently linked on the very front page of the site, but I know for a fact that not all of you reading this even look at the main page, and plenty of you are even first-time readers.
Homunculus Nightmare is a printable card series I came up with that's not quite a game, not quite a scavenger hunt and not quite a series of macabre rituals. An offer remains indefinitely open to get an original Homunculus of your very own if you complete the core challenge, and there's no time like Halloween time to start up a game!
Thus concludes this trip down memory lane, though the main archive (linked right below) features plenty of stuff you might enjoy as much or more than anything I've reposted here.
This year, we'll be revisiting a lot of this past content. Yo-Kai watch has exploded in both popularity and content, we've already mentioned more Ghostbusters, there's a crapload of fresh horror from the Dark Souls universe and much, much more!
MORE HALLOWEEN FEATURES: