We all know the main Halloween line up, those primary monsters you’ll see parading around a candy logo or ‘Happy Halloween’ greeting (but for the record: devil, witch, skeleton, ghost, Frankenstein monster, vampire, werewolf, mummy, zombie, clown, Creature From The Black Lagoon).
That said, the second string of Halloween icons is actually pretty great. These characters have nuance and edge to them we sometimes forget or might have never heard about, but they’re also super recognizable, and make for great costumes and art. Besides, there are only so many skeletons and witches you can take before something needs to change.
So if you’re tired of the same old figures on your Halloween greetings, maybe try one of the West Coast Avengers of horror below.
- The Headless Horseman
This is a close call, as Double H can get called into the main line-up at any time (he’s sort of the Red Tornado of the Halloween line-up). But the Headless Horseman is too specific a phantom to replace a traditional ghost. That said, he has no head, throws flaming jack o’ lanterns, and has his legend based in America’s birth, so he’s pretty damn Halloweeny.
- Jack The Ripper
The father of all slashers, a perfect blend of sweeping gothic antagonist and gore-drenched butcher, Jack the Ripper has a special place in the Halloween heart. He seems to travel with a fog around him and only uses a glittering straight razor. It’s just that the sex killer aspect of his murdering make him just a little edgy for the central cast.
Medusa might be the oldest horror icon. She’s not simply evil or harmful, she’s a monster, an awful sight to behold that comes to stand for death for so many people. Besides tapping into the fear of snakes, she has the very horrific power to turn you into a sculpture, all crouching and screaming at the sight of her.
- The Gorilla
The gorilla is a Halloween classic for three reasons. The first is that the idea of falling into a gorilla enclosure is terrifying. The second is that gorilla suit is one of the great costumes of our time, and therefore has a classic feel to it. Third, King Kong. So while a little random and jungled-oriented for the A Team, he’s a classic secondary threat. Goes well with #10.
- A Doll or Dummy
Maybe it’s because early Halloween costumes were so thrown together, or because they have a scarecrow-like or Frankensteinian quality to them, but rag dolls immediately make me think of Halloween. Dummies and China dolls, meanwhile, are dead-eyed and stiff, but meant to talk, which makes them awesome vessels for dark forces. Nothing’s more unsettling than a talking doll.
- Swamp Monsters
The problem with swamp monsters is that there aren’t rules or boundaries around them. Are they zombies? Ghosts? Either way, they are shambling mounds of swamp muck with pained specter-like faces, yearning to drag you down into the depths of the bog where you’ll never be found. We all know this about them. There’s just no swamp monster canon. There’s no defining performance.
- Mr. Hyde
In many ways, Edward Hyde is a physical embodiment of science’s volatile tendency towards mayhem. But he’s not a simple experiment gone wrong—he’s the human psyche taken to it’s most depraved place. It’s human evil defined, shoved into a brutish, ape-like body. He’s just a bad guy, sure, but what a bad guy.
For anyone who was born in 1975 or later, alien abduction is part of the Halloween palette. Halloween isn’t just about supernatural threats, it’s a night where all manner of Weird Shit goes down, including increased extraterrestrial activity on Earth. In many ways, aliens have all the atmosphere of ghosts—glowing lights, levitation, shadowy silhouetted figures, being transported to an otherworldly realm.
- The Robot
Robots are sort of like old-school voodoo zombies, single-minded and unstoppable. There’s also something inherently apocalyptic about their cold, calculating natures. They’ll always be secondary because they exist outside of horror alone–and raise too many questions about what it is to be human–but there’s something about metal pincers dripping blood that feels Halloween-ready.
- The Ringmaster
Like the clown, the Ringmaster embodies the circus-like aspects of Halloween—the costume, the rituals, the weirdness, the feigned innocence, the show. But unlike the clown, the Ringmaster is in charge. He holds the lash. He knows what’s going on, and keeps the other freaks in line. It takes a twisted man to do a job that scary. Imagine Dracula was trying to sell you a car.