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Horrifying Halloween Characters from Frightening Folk LegendsBy Shane Addinall Oct 14, 2022Whether they come from fictitious stories or really exist, these seven horror characters have caused many phobias and nightmares. Many decide to dress like them each year for Halloween, and some boast a cult following.
October is here, with trees turning stunning shades of red and orange and Starbucks making everything in pumpkin flavour. It is also the time of the year when those who enjoy dressing up as our alter-ego or some nefarious character have permission to do so.
Those who celebrate Halloween in all its splendour and horror are preparing their costumes for dress-up parties. Whether you find the outfit's inspiration from a movie or other pop-culture source, you may wonder where some of the scariest stories originate.
Let's unpack some horrifying folk legends that inspired the most popular character choices for Halloween dress-ups.
Witches and Zombies and Clowns, Oh My!
Each year countless people celebrate Halloween on 31 October through various festivals and neighbourly traditions. We know the holiday's origin dates back centuries to ancient Celtic traditions. Some tie it in with All Saints Day, a Catholic celebration, but where do the bone-chilling characters like zombies, werewolves, and the rest come from?
These characters are still prevalent in pop culture and inspire multiple entertainment spheres, including online casino games. Here are the folk legends that inspired our monsters.
✓ Wicked Witches
As central characters in any Halloween decorator's arsenal, witches are the most popular characters at any celebration of all Hallows eve. Whether from the East or the West, witches had a bad reputation early on, and history records trace witchcraft back to approximately 931 B.C.
The earliest witches practised witchcraft through magic spells and calling on spirits for guidance or help in pressing matters. From biblical times, records of witches and witch hunts increased over the centuries. Historical records show that throughout Europe, Germany executed the most people suspected of witchcraft and Ireland the least. Modern-day witches exist, though we’ll be hard-pressed to find them wearing a pointy hat or flying on a broom.
Today we see witches and wizards in stories such as Harry Potter, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and other entertaining tales where they are either evil or merely magical. We can also find Online Slots inspired by witches from nearly all good software providers, with Rags to Witches by Betsoft recently appearing on our screens.
✓ Blood-thirsty Vampires
These evil, mythological beings embody a superstition that thrived in the Middle Ages and have its origins in Ancient Greek mythology. Ages before Edward Cullen stole Bella's heart, Slavic folklore inspired tales about the dead drinking the blood of the living. The bizarre beliefs stemmed from unexplained illnesses, which we know today were contagious diseases. But the idea led to grisly rituals to quell supposed vampirism.
While the plague decimated entire towns, many believed it was the undead who rose from their eternal sleep and drank the blood of live humans, which led to continued deaths. In areas where this was the conviction of town folk if someone died and another fell ill shortly after, they performed horrible rituals on the corpse to stop it from preying on the living.
Later in the 19th century, Bram Stoker wrote his epic novel Dracula. Inspired by the medieval ruler Vlad the Impaler, Stoker brought to life the modern-day vampire, inspiring countless stories about the immortal, blood-thirsty monsters. Pop culture has romanticised vampires through stories like Interview with a Vampire and Twilight, but the thought of coming face-to-face with a bloodsucking immortal remains bone-chilling. Enjoy jackpot-winning spins on Microgaming's vampire-inspired, Immortal Romance and the Mega Moolah edition.
Much ancient folklore or mythology includes half-man-half-beast creatures, but the metamorphous from man to wolf stems from ancient Greek and Norse tales. Some may recognise the name used in the Greek story from a Kate Beckinsale vampire movie franchise. According to Greek mythology, Lycaon, the son of Pelasgus, served Zeus, a sacrificed boy, as a meal. Enraged by the act, the god Zeus punished Lycaon by transforming him and his sons into wolves.
Nordic folklore tells of a father and son who discovered wolf pelts with magic powers. In one of the stories in the Saga of the Volsungs, a father-son duo donned the furs, transforming them into wolves for 10 days. While on a killing spree, the father attacks his son, nearly killing him. Thanks to a raven who brought a healing leaf, the son survived.
Real-life werewolves came to light in France during the sixteenth century when a few mad men claimed to have the power to transform into wolves. They used this as an explanation for the violent murders they committed. These men, and others claiming the same, were burned at stake for their crimes. Today, Hollywood again had a great influence on how we see werewolves.
✓ The Living-dead
According to pop culture entertainment and maybe even the CDC, zombies will appear in our world, but these walking-dead beings have been part of folklore for centuries. Ancient Greeks had a fear of the undead, according to the findings of archaeologists. Graves with skeletons pinned down by heavy objects indicate a fear that the dead body may reanimate.
But the strongest influence on the belief of zombies comes from Voodoo and Haiti. When sugar farmers brought countless enslaved people into Haiti from West Africa, the captives compared the brutal conditions they lived in with becoming walking dead people. Voodoo originates from Africa, and specific voodoo practitioners called Bokor can summon zombies. They do this by concocting a potion that contains tetrodotoxin. This deadly neurotoxin can cause a zombie-like state when used in small amounts.
Pop culture appearances of these flesh-eating beings like The Walking Dead and World War Z created cult followings for all-things Zombie. Leading software providers like Pragmatic Play and Playtech jumped on the bandwagon and introduced their undead-inspired slots, Zombie Carnival and The Walking Dead.
Although mummies exist, the film industry and people's wild imaginations took these embalmed corpses to a different level. Generally speaking, a mummy is a dried or preserved corpse of a human or animal. Most of us automatically think of Egyptian tombs and the mummified remains of ancient pharaohs when we talk about mummies. However, the practice of embalming or preserving a body is a widespread occurrence around the globe.
All corpse preservation practises have the same goal: to keep as much skin intact as possible. Although many cultures use different mummification processes, most regard the priests from ancient Egypt as the masters of the practice. It was their skill that allowed Howard Carter to find the well-preserved remains of King Tutankhamun.
Mummies and their social standing as horror-worthy characters emerged from a series of events, including fact and fiction. Bram Stoker once again has a hand in transforming mummies into monsters with his fictional novel The Jewel of the Seven Stars. However, The Mummy, the 1932 movie by Boris Karloff, propelled mummies into the monster category and paved the way for bandaged mute beings in the Hollywood horror genre.
✓ The Prince of Darkness
This malevolent being has a legion of demons to help him with his sinister plots and torment of good people. Also known as Satan, the devil, lucifer, and a few other ancient names, books describe this being as having horns and hooves instead of feat. According to the Christian religion and biblical records, Satan’s origins date to the beginning of time.
The devil’s role in most religions takes on the same evil presence as in the bible, although the names other cultures use differs. His numerous names include Beelzebub, Mephistopheles, Baphomet, Molech, and the Father of Lies. Satan has ties with most evil tales, and those who practise the religions he shows up in will tie all the above monsters back to him and his devious demons.
Satan is also the ruler of the underworld, known as hell, and even those who don't practise religion tie him to immorality, fear, and damnation. The devil also shows up in the origins of jack-o'-lanterns. According to an Irish myth, Stingy Jack tricked the devil, and because of his greedy heart, Jack wasn't allowed into Heaven. Because he tricked Satan, he wasn't welcome in hell either, and his spirit dwelled on earth. Irish folk started carving demonic faces into turnips to frighten away Jack's spirit, and so the tradition began.
✓ Creepy Clowns
Although these strange characters traditionally bring laughter and silliness to those around them, clowns became a symbol of evil and fright long before Stephen King's novels existed. Clowns, jesters, or harlequins are age-old tricksters, and so is the fear of make-up-clad entertainers. We can trace the origins of clowns back to ancient civilisations, where leaders such as pharaohs and emperors enjoyed the performance of jesters at their own expense.
Some ascribe the unnatural fear people have for clowns to their satiric characters that hold a mirror to the audience. Perhaps it is the truth they show in a joking manner that frightens people. Other intellectuals ascribe the macabre link with clowns to the early writings of Charles Dickens about a real-life clown from the 19th century, Grimaldi.
Grimaldi's story, and that of other clowns from his era, could be the inspiration behind Stephen King's sinister novel, and this is where most modern-day fears of clowns come from. Another influence for horrifying clown personas is the American serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who posed as a clown named Pogo and murdered 35 young men between 1972 and 1978.
What Nightmares are Made of
If one of the above tales motivated you to dress like the monstrous characters in it, you would be one of the scariest guests at the Halloween party. While we get ready for some nightmare-worthy social gatherings at the end of October, look at more horror-themed video slots from top software providers and keep an eye out for new game releases in the coming weeks.
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