- Religion and Philosophy
Round Up Some Fun For Your Little Pagans This Samhain
I love the Samhain/Halloween season, the films, the costumes, the candy and all the good treats to eat. But the older I get the more I notice cable's tendency to take five films for each station and beat them to death for the month. So I dug through my VHS collection of frights and although one or two were so terrible I wouldn't submit a tot to them there were some hidden gems I have as of yet to see on TV.
I also thought it might be a good time to give a pagan perspective on these films. After all, this is the season of having to remind young ones that our Horned God is the good guy, witches are awesome, and the Crone is a loving figure. And to remind them that these shows are produced by a nonpagan culture we have to learn to live in harmony with.
I did make one or two exceptions as there aren't a ton of reviews of some of the holiday classics we can't live without. Call it Halloween or Samhain, there just has to be a great pumpkin in it somewhere, right?
Monster In My Pocket
Back when I was younger the original toy line and comics were a big deal so a one-shot film, well, episode was a natural. Now if you remember the old comics this film will confuse the heck out of you. But it is a great effort none the less, entertaining enough for adults to sit through and with enough silliness to please the little ones.
Viewers find out that monsters are not only real, but they split into two basic camps. The good monsters who don't want humans harmed and the bad monsters who like scaring humans and turning them into stone statues and drinking their blood. Vampire, leader of the bad guys, is locked away in a castle by good guy Doctor Henry Davenport who looks a heck of a lot like the Invisible Man.
But Vampire is also a bit of a magical genius and he manages to shrink everyone with an escape attempt and the whole kit and kaboodle end up in Los Angles. The good guys seek help from a famous horror author and instead meet his daughter Carrie Raven and thus our tale begins.
I really liked this episode. The characters such as Wolfmon, a Jamaican accented werewolf with a penchant for tropical shirts and skull earrings have distinct personalities, fighting styles and ways they treat Carrie.
The bad guys as well, and Medusa is not to be missed. The battle to become big rages on in this teasing episode, though I don't want to give everything away, the show could have had a lot of potential. And this episode "The Big Scream" should be sure to please old fans and new. The concept alone that monsters are indeed real, live among us and are actually pretty cool was here long before such series as Monster High and this spooky though short treat is sure to please Universal monster fans as well, though the series made the monsters distinct from their cinematic or even literary counterparts.
Uh, sensitive pagan alert: This show just like the original series raised more than one pagan brow. If you aren't a big fan of our gods being shown as monsters, and trust me, I understand, I was not thrilled to see Kali and Baba Yaga make the toy lineup, you may want to give this a pass. Though, in her defense, Medusa is beautiful, intelligent and totally capable of telling Carrie why she is the way she is. You go, Medusa!
Remember the Game?
Still on VHS!
Well worth repeated viewing, follow the adventures of the original pocket monsters.
Rchard Scarry's First Halloween Ever
Your young ones are in for a spooky treat with no tricks in this charming collection that starts off with the possible origins of Halloween. And I think they do a good job with it, as they sweet Lowly worm points out we really aren't sure when or why the holiday started. So no, dear pagan viewers, you won't see a high priest, but you will see a bard afraid of what might be lurking in the night and two young friends who may have to come up with the origins of the holiday or get a good fright. This segues into a silly bone song then goes on to "Who's Too Scared to Masquerade?".
Scary parties, after all, can be a bit too spooky for some little ones, and those fears are addressed.
When cousin Russ throws a Halloween party he wants the scariest costumes ever. So how will wee kindergarten kittens hold up when they want to come too? Better than you might think and a wonderful lesson in facing our fears and knowing it is OK to be scared sometimes.
I love this segment because it's great to see Russ, a wheelchair rocking young cat, being shown as a strong character encouraged to throw parties and do anything anyone else does. He isn't pitied or put in the corner, but he's the catalyst for the tale. He also evolves from a bit of a bully into one cool young cat and learns a lesson along the way. We need more of this type of character diversity and it was great to see it show up in this collection.
The last tale "The New Neighbors" may give some pagans pause. When a new neighbor moves into a spooky old house the children of the town conclude she must be a witch. She has the pointy hat, after all. And based on the tales of their favorite author Rose Spookybones, they find clues to "prove" she is a witch.
But before you turn off the set, this is actually a great teaching moment. Explain to your children about our sacred holiday and that there is a big difference between scary storybook witches and the real deal. And although the morals of this tale are many, including a witch hunt is not a good idea, it helps young pagans understand that to some people there are no such thing as storybook witches and they are right.
Ready for some tricks and treats?
Cute yet gives good chances for teaching moments.
Tales From the Cryptkeeper
This duo of tales actually has nothing to do with Halloween per se, but they both deal with magic and the consequences it can have. In "The Gorilla's Paw" young Lewis wants to belong to the coolest gang in town. And all he has to do to get in is steal a gorilla's paw and make some wishes. Obviously as witches and pagans we've all met people who think we are magical ATMs and that they deserve to have us cast for anything they desire, so a great lesson on not only finding your inner confidence, but what can happen when you let your magic go awry for the sake of buying friendship.
"This Wraps It Up" features, Naomi, a young girl on the trip of a lifetime. The only problem is that trip is to Egypt and the rest of the students are guys, and one is a royal jerk. Shy Naomi never fights back when he teases her about her height, but can she find the courage inside of herself to fight back when the group gets stranded?
This little gem is heavy with lovely Egyptian art and gods and although it follows more of the Hollywood idea of mummies coming back to life, it does teach young ones a valuable lesson about stepping up to claim their personal power. Sometimes there is such a thing as being too nice.
From a pagan perspective getting to see all the Egyptian goodies was a delight and there is magic afoot.
Great Animated Fun!
Very great animation in this film, the comic book style long before it became popular.
The Night Dracula Saved The World
Get ready for some full throttle witchy power! Dracula has called all the most powerful monsters of the world together to thwart a rumor that Halloween has been canceled. And as he is barking out orders he find out it will be canceled. The witch who rides over the moon to officially start the holiday is sick and tired of being a witch.
She is unloved, not respected, and dang it, she wants to be loved and seen as beautiful now. The monsters ignore her demands until it is almost too late, but it won't be Dracula who saves Halloween. OK, it might not be flattering to be grouped with the monsters, but she is the lead female character.
Without her there is no Halloween and her self respect and the film's ending will make every witchlet cheer and many an older pagan cry happy tears. The film even does an OK job with explaining the origins of Halloween and the witch is a powerful, magical and positive female figure.
This is a kid's film so expect some monster silliness, not to give too much away, but this Drac has Hotel Transylvania beat by decades. And he does manage to look scary once or twice.
Get ready for a fun and witchy ride.
It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
What can I say that hasn't already been said? Well, back when I was a tiny, isolated witchlet I always loved this film. I didn't know witches or the old gods or anything else that wonderful was real so I mistook the Great Pumpkin for some connection to the old gods. A forgotten diety that came every Halloween. If you think of it, Linus is sort of like the changing pagans of old. As the new religion moved in they had a belief in the old ways too. It was all good.
And he makes a sacrifice of fun, parties and candy in order to follow his beliefs, if you ask me, that's pretty darn awesome. I won't go so far as to label Snoopy Anubis in disguise, but it's still a fun film with pagan elements aplenty, such as apples, costuming and a distinct sense of magic.
And no, I don't mind Lucy's costume. She's a wee Crone goddess. As a special produced by someone with nary a drop of pagan blood in him, it's as good a representation of the old ways, parties, dancing and the making of sacrifice as any other out there.
The only thing that has always bothered me is the whole rock thing. Was this a real custom at one time? I know some adults were mischievous and could literally drop anything into a bag, but this seems like a rather spiteful trick and all the adults in town did it? Well, maybe they are charged crystals or something.
OK, maybe not, but it's the only part of the whole series I never got. Even Charlie Brown has to luck out sometime. Well, a chance to teach children about Samhain disappointments, I guess. And, of course if they are pagan and proud it can be a teaching moment about people not sharing their beliefs as well.