Spooky Symbolism for a Meaningful Halloween

Original air date: Monday, October 27, 2014
Episode Description:

It’s the time of monsters and magic, witches and werewolves, vampires and voodoo, zombies and … well, you get the idea. All of these have symbolic meaning that we celebrate each Halloween season, but we may not know why it resonates within us. With our special guest Rev. Ogun Holder, a fellow pop culture aficionado, we’ll look at some of the most popular depictions in pop culture and come up with ways to make your Halloween more deeply meaningful without taking away the fun! And be sure to tune in to his show, Rants to Revelations, on Wednesday as we continue the conversation that’s just too big for just one show!

Malayna’s Notes: (You’ll have to listen to the show to hear how the conversation really went!)

Hollywood Forever Cemetery Tour – Karie Bible, tour guide & historian! (Dia De Los Muertos – Nov 1st + Olvera Street)

Vampira (from Wikipedia)– Maila Nurmi was a Finnish-American actress born in Petsamo, Finland, who created the campy 1950s character Vampira. She portrayed Vampira as TV’s first horror host and in the Ed Wood cult film Plan 9 from Outer Space.

According to Nurmi, this was because the station cast comedic actress Cassandra Peterson in the part without consulting her. “They eventually called me in to sign a contract and she was there”, Nurmi told Bizarre magazine in 2005. “They had hired her without asking me.”[19]

Unable to continue using the name Vampira, the show was abruptly renamed Elvira’s Movie Macabre with Peterson playing the titular host. Nurmi soon filed a lawsuit against Peterson. The court eventually ruled in favor of Peterson, holding that “likeness means actual representation of another person’s appearance, and not simply close resemblance.” Peterson claimed that Elvira was nothing like Vampira aside from the basic design of the black dress and black hair. Nurmi claimed that the entire Elvira persona, which included comedic dialogue and intentionally bad graveyard puns, infringed on her creation’s “distinctive dark dress, horror movie props, and…special personality.”[20] Nurmi herself claimed that Vampira’s image was in part based on the Charles Addams The New Yorker cartoon character Morticia Addams, though she told Boxoffice magazine in 1994 that she had intentionally deviated from Addams’ mute and flat-chested creation, making her own TV character “campier and sexier” to avoid plagiarizing Addams’ idea.[21]

Pop Culture History

Universal Monsters or Universal Horror is the name given to a series of distinctive horror, suspense and science fiction films made by Universal Studios from 1923 to 1960. The series began with The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera, both silent films starring Lon Chaney.

Universal continued with talkies including monster franchises Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man, and Creature from the Black Lagoon. The studio’s leading horror actors during this post-Chaney period were Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Lon Chaney, Jr..

My Childhood History

  • Scooby Doo – 1969!
  • The Count! On Sesame Street – 1972-2012
  • Groovy Ghoulies -1970-1972 – pop song each episode
  • Addams Family 1964 – 66
  • Munsters – 64-66 too

Monster High – (Erin Fitzgerald voice!)

Faves – Obscure

  • Mad Monster Party – (1967) Stop-motion animation from Rankin Bass, of Rudolph fame, w/voices by Boris Karloff & Phyllis Diller
  • Beetle Juice – (1988)
  • High Spirits (1988) – Steve Gutenberg & Beverly D’Angelo go to Ireland where they meet ghosts Liam Neeson and Daryl Hannah.
  • Transylvania 6-5000 – Jeff Goldblum, Ed Begley, Jr – Geena Davis – Two reporters travel to a strange castle in Transylvania to investigate the apparent reappearance of Frankenstein, and encounter such kooky creatures as the sensitive Wolfman, the love-starved Vampiress Odette, as well as a whole cast of other weirdos. Dr. Malavaqua – Twisto! – All revealed to be a misunderstanding.

American Horror Story – Freak Show ? – It’s about shame, empowerment, living outside the lines

Fairy Tales are scary! – Once Upon a Time, Grimm,


  • Bewitched (1964/2005)
  • Charmed (1998)
  • WICKED! (2003 debut) (bk 1995 Gregory Maguire)
  • Stardust (2007) (& ghosts, a star)
  • Beautiful Creatures (2013) – Emma Thompson, on her sixteenth birthday (Dec 21) she will be claimed by either the forces of light or of darkness.


  • Buffy (97) / Angel (99)
  • Vampire in Brooklyn (95)
  • Vampire Diaries (2009)
  • Lost Boys – Jason Patric, (87)
  • Fright Night (85) Chris Sarandon


  • Warm Bodies (2013)
  • Rocky Horror (73/75)
  • I Am Legend 2007)

I Am Legend (Will Smith – Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles valiantly to find a cure.) Remake ofThe Omega Man (1971) with director Boris Sagal, starring Charlton Heston. Then as ‘I Am Legend’ with director Ridley Scott, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, which fell through when the production went over-budget. And then in 2002, Michael Bay was set to direct Will Smith, but they decided to make Bad Boys II (2003) instead.

M.Night Shyamalan

  • Ghosts – Sixth Sense (1999)
  • Superheroes/Villains – Unbreakable (2000) (terrifying)
  • Aliens – Signs (2002)
  • Monsters/Werewolves – The Village (2004)
  • Chinese Fairy Tale – Lady in the Water (2006)
  • Plague – Happening (2008)
  • Superheroes – Last Airbender (2010)
  • Space – After Earth (2013)

Tim Burton – My article on Whole Life (Times) Magazine.com – Tim Burton – The Mind Behind the Haunted Carnival

  • Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
  • Beetlejuice (1988)
  • Batman (1989)
  • Edward Scissorhands (1990)
  • Batman Returns (1992) — Birdman! Keaton
  • Ed Wood (1994 )
  • Mars Attacks (1996)
  • Sleepy Hollow (1999)
  • 2001 Planet of the Apes
  • 2003 Big Fish
  • 2005 Corpse Bride
  • 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • 2007 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • 2010/I Alice in Wonderland
  • 2012 Frankenweenie
  • 2012 Dark Shadows
  • DANNY ELFMAN + Oingo Boingo every Halloween!


Gothic Horror – Anne Rice

Seth Grahame-Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. In addition to adapting the screenplay for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Seth also wrote Tim Burton’s latest film, Dark Shadows. He lives in Los Angeles.

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies –

  • Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter
  • Unholy Night

Other authors:

  • Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters (Quirk Classics)
  • Jane Slayre
  • Little Vampire Women
  • Android Karenina
  • Alice in Zombieland
  • Wuthering Bites
  • Grave Expectations
  • Mansfield Park and Mummies

American Monsters Packed with horror homages, American Monsters is a book for adventurous readers – ones who are not scared of non-traditional narratives, of evil smog-goddesses, or of women turning the tables.

Sezin Koehler is a half American/half Sri Lankan adult Third Culture Kid whose resume of living abroad includes Sri Lanka, Zambia, Thailand, Pakistan, India, California, Switzerland, France, Spain, Turkey, the Czech Republic and now calls Cologne, Germany home.
Sezin looks to Stephen King, Louise Erdrich, Alice Walker, Amy Tan, “Alice In Wonderland”, “The Wizard of Oz”, and “The Never Ending Story” as great sources of inspiration, as well as a constant stream of horror films and television.

Reader, screenwriter, blogger, researcher, dancer, astrologer and photographer, Sezin writes horror fiction, fairy tales for grown-ups, anecdotes about being an expat, movie and book reviews as well as academic theory about Lady Gaga.

AMERICAN MONSTERS is a compelling and thought-provoking work on feminism and the horror genre.

The first part is fiction, … a dark collection of vignettes… people with monstrous natures …explore equally monstrous themes such as violence, rape, exploitation, suicide, loneliness. Non Fiction – autobiographical account of the worst day in Sezin’s life, when in Los Angeles she bore witness to the murder of her best, dearest friend Wendy, to whom this book is dedicated. … giving us a glimpse not only into real-life horror, but also the psyche of a fascinating, erudite individual and how this shaped her life and thinking. The essays which follow are an intelligent, On Truth and Synchronicity, for instance, touches on the rave culture, the portrayal of vampires, the unique perspective afforded “Third Culture Kids” like Sezin (and myself) in anthropological discussions, and the dichotomy between male and female psychologies when interpreting horror film and fiction. There’s also an Afterword, written more than ten years following the events, and I am grateful for this section, for it was an uplifting coda to the life of a woman who had gone through Hell, had been changed by it, but not destroyed.

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