Why is race, why is diversity, important in speculative fiction? Why is it important, why should it matter, what race one’s characters are?
As a child, I devoured YA fiction, filled with ghosts and goblins. My TV interests were the same: I gravitated toward the weird, the fantastic, so much so I often had to look under my bed to make sure Dracula hadn’t found his new resting place there.
But there were, with few exceptions, no characters who looked like me. There were no characters from neighborhoods like mine. What was far worse was that many of the characters who later came, and are still around today, didn’t act like me or anyone else I knew. I wonder if my life would have been more enriched if there’d been a brown-skinned girl or boy who starred in the fiction I so greedily devoured? If he or she had walked across the TV screen of my youth? Of this I’m sure.
Diversity is important because we, people of color, need heroines and heroes to people the landscape of our imagination … to point the way, to help us dream, to help us see something better in our tomorrows. We need characters to help make us proud of who we are and where we came from. In short, we need characters to identify with. Characters who are coming from the same space. We need role models, most especially ones who don’t die in the first fifteen minutes of the story, ones who aren’t caricatures and stereotypes.
Now don’t get me wrong. I continue to enjoy literature and films created by white authors. But I still need, I’d venture to say we still need stories that emerge from the Black experience. And we aren’t the only ones who need this. Diversity in speculative fiction is important for folks of all races.
If you want to know what’s going on in my neighborhood, if you want to know what moves me politically, and socially, if you want to know what I dream, who better to ask than me? In other words, SF/fantasy/horror written not just by Black folks, but by Native Americans, peoples of Latin descent, written by the full racial spectrum, goes a long way toward making folks more intelligent, more tolerant … to moving our world a little bit closer to global humanity and understanding.
Racial inclusiveness, diversity, is just as important in speculative fiction as it is in every other aspect of our lives. And in 2019 it is becoming an everpresent reality.
I’ve always hated it when folks overgeneralize and paint everyone with the same broad brush. So here’s what I have to say: to those white creators who are trying so hard to be racially sensitive and accurate. We are not talking about you. I myself, create Native American, Asian, Spanish and White characters based on folks I’ve been fortunate enough to meet in my lifetime. As I’ve said before, I hope that I do a decent job. Only my readers can answer that.
The authors and screenwriters we’re trying to move forward are those who have no idea how to create a nonwhite character and don’t even try to learn. Who just dig in their bag of stereotypes and throw something together. Personally, I’d rather be portrayed as a White woman with a deep tan, not perfect mind you, but better, rather than a “Yuk, yuk missus … I’s a-comin’” myth.
As writers, we’ve all heard of publishing companies that strong-arm authors into making their characters white or racially ambiguous, so they can attract white readers. Again, all publishing companies are not equal. But these stories have made me glad I decided to self-publish. I’d also like to say, since I have white readers, to these companies (you know who you are): you aren’t giving your readers enough credit. You should stop treating them like children. Folks will read good writing, no matter where it comes from, and who writes it.
And now to Hollywood. Oh man, don’t get me started! On the stereotypical characters that make us all cringe, the people of color (yes, not just black folks) who die fifteen to thirty minutes into the film, to the scores and scores of films made with no people of color at all.
So what do we do? We keep on keeping on. In 2019, the speculative fiction landscape is filled with more films, books and animation created by folks of color than I have ever seen in my lifetime.
Our numbers will continue to grow. We are coming. We have arrived. We are here.
And we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
Valjeanne Jeffers is a science fiction writer and the author of Immortal, Immortal 2: The Time of Legend and Immortal 3: Stealer of Souls. She is a graduate of Spelman College, NCCU and a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective (CAAWC).
Black Devil Doll From Hell or Chester Turners Revenge
A Review by James Goodridge
“This is bad, very bad … but I love it,” I say to myself while clicking through a cornucopia of videos, reviews, soundtrack music, and other snippets, but not the full-length movie Black Devil Doll From Hell or BDDFH. Now I have a macabre love for B movies be it Sci-Fi or Horror the more absurd (see Scream Baby Scream 1969) or Grind House the better. With some low budget movies watching them you get a sense that they were made for the quick buck, but some have a feel that passion was injected into the movie kind of an Ed Wood radiance.
BDDFH was written, directed, music scored and produced by Chester Turner. Starring Shirley Jones, it was filmed in 1984 in Chicago for under $10,000 using a video camera, a VCR and a Casio organ for soundtrack music.
The ’80s were an era of mobile video freedom for people to create, a challenge to would-be amateur filmmakers. Mr. Turner took up the challenge. The plot surrounds Helen Black(Jones) a God-fearing woman who buys a three-foot doll with Rick James corn rolls from a strange gift shop, not aware that the doll is possessed by the devil. Later in the slow-paced movie, the doll comes to life and attacks her in the shower. For the rest of the movie, we’re tormented by devil doll’s old hustler voice harassing Helen as she has succumbed to his power, going on the prowl to pick up men for sexual gratification. Obie Dunson plays the Preacher in some scenes.
Years later, Turner said he stayed up three days and nights writing the script. Maybe I’m wrong because I had a hard time following parts of the movie and there is barely a plot. Now I must say that the doll itself is creepy, one of those old ventriloquist dummies with the huge eyes and to Turner’s credit you do get a visceral sense of unease.
The Casio droning on in the background makes you wish it would stop. Scenes lingering too long, stiff acting and bad lighting doom this labor of love Chester Turner produced. Selling the movie on VHS from the trunk of his car then making sales pitches in-person to video store owners generated limited profits for Turner and Jones (they were in a relationship at the time) and soon the movie was forgotten with Turner and Jones moving on to create Tales From the Quadead Zone (1987).
Over the decades, social media has not been kind to BDDFH with would-be reviewers piling on with bad reviews. I came across one reviewer on YouTube using a racial slur when talking about Ms. Jones’s looks. But a documentary Adjust Your Tracking (2013) and a Daily Grind House article in 2013 revived interest in BDDFH. It is now the holy grail when it comes to VHS tape collectors with a tape selling between $ 419 to $1,000 online.
Internet detective work helped me come across a Q & A segment at the 2013 Austin Film Society Festival featuring Turner and Jones. The movie now in cult status, Turner answered questions with humbleness and grace while Jones is reserved and matter of fact. Both feel vindicated, Turner still has the master copy and was redistributing it on DVD. In 2001
A non-related remake of BDDFH was released on DVD. A soft porn splatter movie mess, the best I can say about it is that… I’ll get back to you a few years from now maybe with some kind words.
At the end of the day Turner and Jones chased their dream with passion.
By Eden Royce
Both Ganja and Hess (1973) and Spike Lee’s remake Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014) feature Dr. Hess Green, an anthropologist who from an encounter with a cursed knife, develops a thirst for blood. Soon after, he meets Ganja Hightower and shares his curse of immortality with her to ensure they will be together forever. They begin a dangerous romance that strikes at the heart of what we know as love and addiction.
When you look up cult films, as I do, the list inevitably includes at least one Blaxploitation horror movie. The one I see mentioned most often and the one listed on Halliwell’s Film Guide is Blacula. It deserves its place and if you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do so.
One deserving black horror flick that doesn’t get such love is Ganga and Hess.
I have a hard time placing this movie with other films in the Blaxploitation horror genre like J.D.’s Revenge, and Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde because Ganja and Hess stands alone as almost a genre within itself. Some may find this movie difficult to watch as it drags its feet in some places, and in others rushes through, skipping niftily past plot and minor details like why did getting stabbed with this ancient knife give Dr. Hess a form of vampirism?
Even so, William Gunn’s directorial choices are resonant. G&H is artsy and full of symbolism. In addition, he plays Lafayette Hightower in the film, Ganja’s husband and Hess’s disturbed assistant who stabs him with the aforementioned knife. While I don’t always need or want to be spoon-fed all of the details in a movie, I found Ganja’s throwaway attitude of yes, my husband’s body is in your wine cellar, but do you wanna get together? mystifying.
I appreciated that the characters were not portrayed as stereotypically Black; their roles could be played successfully by any race. Hess, played by Duane Jones of Night of the Living Dead fame, is an anthropologist and is obviously wealthy if his home and the Rolls Royce his driver carts him around in are any indication. Ganja’s tone is acerbic and cutting at first, but Hess is too cool and comfortable in his own skin to rise to the challenge. Eventually, she mellows into a thoughtful, introspective character, assessing her plight, then accepting, and finally reveling in it.
Ganja and Hess is such an unusual movie, part horror, part surreal dream-state montage; it was initially received poorly and almost ended Gunn’s career. The movie was re-released under different titles: Blood Couple, Black Vampire, and Black Evil, which underwhelm and do little to show the true intricate nature of this film. Now it has become a cult favorite that dips and dives, allowing you to observe without explaining much of anything. It’s a lingering movie that taunts you for trying to understand it.
Perhaps that’s why Spike Lee wanted to remake this film. His retelling of these blood-bonded lovers is titled, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, highlighting the original’s footage of African-Americans worshipping and singing gospel hymns, creating a religious tone that echoes throughout both movies.
Financed via Kickstarter, Lee’s film brings the characters into the modern world but loses some of the allure of the original. The long scenes of church worship are there, as are the overlaid images and the characters’ grudging acceptance of blood as necessity.
However, Stephen Tyrone Williams does not have the easy cool of Jones, instead of giving Dr. Hess a stiff, wooden portrayal. British actress Zaraah Abrahams is marginally better, but still feels awkward as Ganja. Abrahams has several nude scenes in the remake, while the original only featured frontal male nudity.
For the most part, Lee’s film remains true to Gunn’s version. A notable exception is that Lee is more forthright with explaining plot, which is not a bad thing. He spends more time developing characters and revealing their intentions and motivations.
Also, Ganja and Hess is grainy and difficult to hear in places as background noise plagued the filming. Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is clear and clean, with high image quality and a sturdy soundtrack.
I recommend seeing both movies for different reasons. It would be a good fit for lovers of indie films, those interested in seeing Black characters in leading horror roles, and those who just love a good, surreal experience. Both films give a different take on the blood drinker mythos and that in and of itself makes them refreshingly interesting movies.
Eden Royce’s short stories have appeared in various print and online publications including, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror (2018 and 2019), Sycorax’s Daughters (Bram Stoker award finalist), Apex Magazine, Strange Horizons, Fiyah Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, PodCastle, PseudoPod, and Fireside Fiction. She is also a recipient of the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Diverse Worlds grant.
Her debut middle grade Own Voices historical Southern Gothic novel, TYING THE DEVIL’S SHOESTRINGS, is forthcoming from Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins. More at her website edenroyce.com.
Excerpt from: Legends of Old by Violet Tempest
The Old Charleston Jail, located at 21 Magazine Street, Charleston, SC is well known to locals as being haunted. Some refuse to go near this structure while thrill seekers buy tickets from Bulldog Tours for guided tours. The long history of this jail does give creditability to its many hauntings. Having been used as a prison for over 200 years there was a great deal of suffering that occurred on the grounds and in the cells. (pg. 72)
My personal experience of the tour and afterward:
When our daughter was eleven years old, my husband and I decided it would be fun to start a Halloween tradition of going on a different Ghost Tour in Charleston, SC every year. These would allow us to spend time as a family and introduce our daughter to Lowcountry History.
The area goes back to 1670 when settlers landed on the shores of the Cooper River, founding what is now known as Charlestown Landing. Our first tour was a family friendly tour of the old churches and graveyards in Downtown Charleston.
Two years later we decided to take it up a notch. That’s when we took The Haunted Jail Tour.
By this time our daughter was familiar with the lore of the area, and like us she found the old tales intriguing. Little did we know that the tour would change our views on ghost tours.
We booked a tour for the Saturday before Halloween of 2008. It was chilly evening, and the tour didn’t start until after dark. WE made an event of it, like we had done in the past. Going out to dinner, and our daughter invited her best friend to go with us. The four of us were looking forward to a fun spooky filled evening.
We arrived at the Old Jail with about 20 minutes to spare, so we, along with others who were arriving for the tour, had to stand outside while the tour in progress finished up. Standing on the sidewalk we could hear an occasional loud bang followed by a scream or two. The girls moved to the sidewalk opposite the street, and we weren’t too far behind them. Even across the street we could feel the heavy despair that hung around the old building and grounds.
Finally, the tour ended, and it was time for us to take ours. Friendly, joking banter floated around as strangers teased one another. Nothing that anyone in the group took seriously. I mean, everyone knows the noises on these tours are false.
Before we could enter, we were told the rules; the most important was to stay together, no one was to wander off. Then the tour began. Standing outside the front entrance our tour guide told us that what is now known as the old jail started out in a hospital for the homeless and other impoverished people.
Years later, in 1802 that building was torn down and replaced with the building that currently stands. Over the years the building that was designed to hold 128 prisoners would at times have so many occupants that there was standing room only. Not only inside, but outside as well. The grounds would be packed with barely enough room for the prisoners to move, and men and women were placed together. They did not separate them.
As you can imagine, the conditions created disease, and many died before they were released. The city kept a body cart on the property where the dead bodies were stacked on top of one another.
When the cart was full, it was then driven to the river, and the bodies dumped. Our guide said that there were many times the bodies piled up before they decayed and so another site, further down the river, would have to be used. Her words painted a vivid image and my flesh crawled as my mind carried me back to that time.
That wasn’t the end of the horror she painted for us.
We followed her inside, and she showed us the shackles that are still on the walls. The torture devise varied from room to room. Our guide told us how the prisoners who were considered the worst of the Charleston population were tortured, shackled, and starved.
Next, we went up the narrow staircase and saw the huge rooms where, in the winter there wasn’t any heat nor, of course, in the summer any air conditioning.
The criminals weren’t shown any kindness.
These harsh conditions made it almost impossible to survive. It is approximated that by the time the jail closed in 1939 over 10,000 people died on the property.
It was in the last room where we heard the tale of Lavina Fisher, according to legend she’s the country’s first female serial killer. And yes, while we were in the room a loud bang sounded out. Where exactly it came from I cannot say. The sound echoed all around us. Now, even though I have experienced the unexplained since I was a small child, I was skeptical.
“But surely it was Lavina?” some may be asking. I do not know. Personally, I feel it was all sound effects the tour company added to give their customers a thrill. I can tell you the despair that bore down on us before we started the tour did not leave me. There were times that it felt like someone was behind me, but when I looked no one was there. Other times a cold reached my bones that wasn’t from the chilly autumn air.
Throughout the whole tour I couldn’t shake the feeling of evil all around me.
No one was injured on the tour, and everyone took plenty of pictures. Nothing unusual showed in ours and driving away we talked about the history that we had learned that night. Little did we know that our experience with the old jail was far from over.
Over the next year our daughter and I could not shake the feeling of something watching us at all times. Even in our sleep. After a couple of months things progressed. Our daughter began staying in her room all the time and was always sleepy and moody. We chalked it up to her becoming a teenager, even though that didn’t squelch our concerns.
Then she started showing me her sketches. They were full of an evil crawling out of the darkness of her closest. It wasn’t until one night while she stayed with a friend that I discovered what was really happening to her.
My dear husband snores, and when I say snore I mean shake the walls snore. So that night I was awoken by what can only be called an Earth-Shattering Rumble, I went down to her room and crawled into her empty bed. The snoring was tolerable down there, and I eventually fell back asleep. How long I was asleep I do not know. But while I lay there on my right side, under her comforter, deep asleep, I felt something jump on the bed, placing hands and feet on either side of me, startling me awake.
At first I thought it was our dog, and I turned to pet her and get her to snuggle up beside me.
What I saw was not our dog.
From the streetlight that peeked through the curtains, I could make out the thing on my daughter’s bed straddling me was a deep, dark, green. Its skin was slimy in appearance. Its squished face did not have a nose, but instead two slits located where one should’ve been. Two glowing red embers for eyes, and a thin, toad-like mouth. When it saw me, those lips pulled back in a snarl showing me sharp, pointy, yellow teeth.
That snarl told me it was not expecting me to be there. It raised its thin right arm and swung claws like a big cat at me.
I jumped from the bed. My muscles quivering, my heart pounding.
“How dare you! You meant to attack my daughter!” I said. The creature jumped down off the bed, and with a laugh that was full of evil, made its way toward me. I did the only thing I could think of.
I stood there in the room, shaking my head, anger filling every pore of my body. “No! You will not get away with this.”
I placed my right palm in the air, toward the ceiling, toward the universe. With my left hand I pointed at the creature and with every fiber of my being I said the only thing I could think of.
“I call on the power of the one who created me. I call upon the power of the supreme one to send you back to the depths of Hell from which you came from!”
As those words left my lips, I felt a warm energy enter my right palm, surge down my arm, through my core, before shooting out my left arm. A bright blue beam shown from my left hand.
The creature’s eyes grew big. Its slimy face filled with fear as its mouth opened in a silent scream. Then it was gone, and I was left standing alone in the center of my daughter’s room.
Looking around, I realized what had happened. A demon had come to attack my daughter and to its surprise found me instead. My heart felt like it was going to beat its way out of my chest, and my body trembled as fear started to take the place of anger. Finally satisfied it was gone, at least for the night, I turned and walked quickly back to our bed where my husband was still sound asleep, his snores now a sound of comfort. I slid back under our covers and laid there the rest of the night.
Sleep did not return.
Come morning, I got up and went back into the room. The bed was still a mess like I’d left it and in the light of day, the previous night’s experience seemed unreal. My mind quickly brought up the images of my daughter’s sketches and I knew that thing had been after her. And I also knew where it had come from.
For some reason it latched on to us at the jail. Coming home with us; a sort of supernatural souvenir.
I talked to my daughter and husband about what happened that night and that’s when we found out the creature had been terrorizing her. It had thrown her clothes across the room. Even lifted her up and spun her around. I told her what I had done, and that I hoped that took care of it.
She changed rooms to what was the spare room. Who could blame her?
Never again has the creature made an appearance and no longer do we feel like something is watching us from the shadows. I will tell you this, The Old Charleston Jail is one place I refuse to go back to.
If you decide to take the tour remember this, there’s no telling what souvenir you will end up with.
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by Violet Tempest
Since I’m an author, I view stories as a platform to speak out about experiences I have gone through in hopes my experiences may help others. If for no other reason than for them to know they are not alone.
That is why I would like to share the following experience with you.
As far back as I can remember I have seen things others don’t. Felt things others seem oblivious to. In almost fifty years I have had more than one experience with the supernatural and paranormal worlds out there. One such experience happened about eleven years ago. My family and I had moved into a house in a new subdivision. Since the place was new, I’d hoped that we would be left alone by those other worlds.
My hopes would soon prove wrong.
We’d lived there for about a year when one night I awoke about two in the morning. My husband was fast asleep. I couldn’t figure out what caused me to wake up and as I lay there, I looked about the room. At first my eyes landed on a shadow form. I kept looking at it, expecting that the longer I looked at it the more my eyes would adjust, and it would just be a trick of the eye.
But that’s not what happened.
The black form seemed to move closer. Was this a trick of my eye? Were my eyes being fooled by the outside light that filtered in between the curtains? Still, on my back I just watched as this form seemed to float until it stood at the foot of our bed. There what had been dark forms just moments before took the shape of a woman.
I sat up, leaned closer, astonished by what I was seeing. Clearly, I was imagining it.
I reached over with my right hand and began to shake my husband, urging him to wake up. As I did so the woman’s features became crystal clear. No longer was she just shadows but before me, at the foot of our bed stood a woman about five feet in height, average build, long dark hair that seemed to shimmer with non-existent light. Her straight hair so long it went past her waist and seemed to disappear behind her. Around her there appeared this glow that allowed me to see her in detail. Her skin softened with age, tanned as if she spent a lot of time out in the sun, and her clothes, well her clothes seemed to be from an earlier time. Say hundreds of years earlier. Around her shoulders she wore a blue shawl that she clutched with her right hand, her dress appeared brown and it was hard to tell if it were made from leather or cotton.
As I continued to shake my husband awake, pleading with him to wake up, she began to move along his side of the bed.
“I really need you to wake-up!” I cried out. By this time the figure was at his feet and began to pat the bed with her left hand.
“Huh, wha?” He mumbled.
“Wake-up. There’s someone in the room with us!” I demanded. Now the woman was at his waist, still patting his side of the bed as if she were trying to make him lay back down.
“What? Where?!” He sat straight up, looking around him.
At this point this woman stood right beside him, looking at him.
“Right there!” I pointed at her.
He jumped out of the bed and turned the light on.
But by that time, she had disappeared. As if she had never even been there.
My heartbeat against my rib cage. My hands shook. My whole body trembled.
My dear husband looked under the bed, in the closest, anywhere he could think of. But I knew he’d never find her or anyone else.
Then he checked the windows and doors. All were locked.
He never got mad at me. He never called me crazy. He believed me when I said I saw something and to this day he still believes me. And that’s why I love him. Because when I see a ghost he doesn’t question me or make me feel stupid. He accepts that I experienced something he didn’t.
Which is what happened that night. I saw a ghost. Even though the house and subdivision were new, the land wasn’t. Land can become haunted just as buildings do. I don’t believe what I saw was a poltergeist or a ghost that meant to do harm. I believe what I saw was more of an imprint in time. A spirit doomed to repeat a moment of their life over and over for all eternity.
I never saw her again. Why? Well, for one thing, the very next day we moved the bed to the opposite wall. If what showed itself was a spirit passing through a gateway, I didn’t want another experience like it so we moved the bed. If that’s why I can’t say. I do know for the rest of the time we lived in that house I didn’t see another ghost despite strange things that happened. Items moved. Lights and water turn on by themselves. Things of that nature.
It took nine years, but we finally moved from that house. Where we are living seems to be free from the paranormal visitors. But I have a feeling that I will experience something else again. Like I said, I’ve seen and felt things from the Supernatural and Paranormal worlds all my life and expect to until the end.
When will be the next time? I don’t have a clue.
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It’s an enigmatic entity known to everyone, one that has almost as many faces as it does names. From all around the world people, mainly children, live in fear of it; parents use its influence to insure good behavior, or as a fable to ward off mischief. It has been portrayed in countless mediums (art, film, etc…), rarely great, sometimes good, but often bad, and understandably so, as we will explore. This being, as you may have guessed is known almost universally as the Bogeyman!
As far back as the 1500’s this creature has been warped and molded throughout history and made its way through many of cultures who have adorned it with mythical status. While its image and origins have come to vary from country and time, there are a few consistent elements that have carried over to modern day. No matter its form, the Bogeyman is known to primarily focus its torment on that of misbehaving children, or those indirectly involved in such activities. They stalk and prey on their unsuspecting victims, usually waiting for them in their closets, or most commonly depicted underneath their beds, watching—waiting. In many cases they are said to feed on these children who are never to be seen again. Now, in context, coming as it did from a 16th century narrative, it’s not difficult to see how such tales were a perfect means to govern your children. Hell, even kids today might be so influenced by such a creature, though it may take some more convincing and the effect wouldn’t be as lasting.
These fables mostly came from isolated pockets of populates, usually villages in or near the miles of unexplored woods where tales of beasts and witches came for them all. Many lived in fear, and the Bogeyman as it was can be used as a sort of surrogate explanation for any misfortune. Even mass populations (towns, cities, etc…) were not safe, and had their own beliefs.
The Sackman, mainly of eastern Europe is a wide spread depiction reaching all around the globe, of a man who would roam the streets at night looking for any would be children who had not obeyed their parents and remained in bed. He is said to have a large bag slung over his shoulder, by which he would carry the children off to torment and eat. You can see how such a story would be of great use to parents, as well as the depiction relatively vague and simple; a man with a bag. I imagine there were plenty of them walking around at all hours. Homeless, vagrants; should a child lay their eyes on someone like this through their window at night, the shock of fear would almost be a guarantee.
El Coco (Cucu as is the female pronunciation) is the representation from Latin America. As far back as 1799 may be one of the earliest portrayals of our modern understanding of the Bogeyman (or woman, in this case), is said to hide under beds, or in closets, even watching from rooftops for disobedient children. ElCoco (Cucu) seems to be one of the more nefarious types that actively seeks and looks to kidnap children. With no specific form to itself, but it is known to be a shapeshifter of sorts, it is referred to sometimes as a “ghost monster” or even more rarely “the Devil”, even an alligator as one Brazilian description would claim. One of the more intriguing aspects is that of the numerous poems that are told in its name, one of the oldest comes from the 17th century which reads:
“Sleep child, sleep now,
Else coco comes, and will eat you—
Another, more traditional Brazilian spin is as follows:
Sleep little baby,
That Cuca comes to get you—
Daddy went to the farm,
Mommy went to work—”
If you ask me, these read like a creature intent on inflicting terror in innocent eyes, and not so much a simple foreboding tale.
The Baba Yaga or Witch of the Woods of Slavic culture is one we might all be familiar with thanks to its depiction in the more recent Hellboy or Ant Man films. Baba Yaga, come at night—Little children sleeping tight— Yeah, we all know it. However, Baba Yaga has a few more layers to it, specifically she; “she” being almost always a female, or rather an old hag of sorts, is known to not only seek out and eat children that should happen upon her home in the woods, but also to help those in need if they so earn her respect.
Baba Yaga has some of the more colorful characteristics in Bogeyman lore, for she is said to live in a house stilted atop a pair of chicken legs and enclosed by a fence made of human bones and skulls. She wanders the woods with her mortar and pestle, always ready to cook up her remedies, or victims. Usually an old frail woman, sometimes represented by not one but three women of the like; you can see how stories of Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Clash of the Titans or any number of Witching tales can be derived from such a concept. Once again, she is more noteworthy for her desire for small children, and yet it isn’t her appearance but her actions which places her in the category of Bogey(wo)man. Baba Yaga is rich with history I’m looking more into, but for those who wish to do the same, I’ll include two links below, one of which is an early mentioning in a story by Alexander Afanasyev (1826 – 1871) Vasilisa the Beautiful. I might liken it to a vague similarity to Cinderella, but tell me what you think.
The final one I’ll mention here, as there are endless representations of the Bogeyman, is Black Annis of 18th century English descent. An interesting and, something of a more credible telling as Black Annis is said to be a misrepresentation of a real person, Agnes Scott. Both are said to have haunted the countryside of Leicestershire in the Dane Hills. Both are claimed to have lived in a cave marked by a large oak tree. But where the living Scott was said to be a reclusive nun who spent her life isolated in prayer, Black Annis was said to prowl the streets at night in search of children and lambs (livestock) to eat, only to tan their skins after and wear them around her waist, and go so far as to reach in through windows for her victims. A slight difference in interpretation you’d say! Makes me wonder did this Agnes Scott do something to bring about such a legacy unto herself? Although it’s been conjecture that this is only two similar stories molded to one ominous spin.
Nevertheless… it is a menacing creature no matter its form of concept, one that we are all weary of at some point in our lives. It is hard to contemplate why such a versatile being can be so hard to sell in fiction, though these days it’s understandable. It’s been tried many times, even in its own questionable film titled Boogeyman (2005). Hell, ECW/WWE had a character portrayal of the same name! But for a creature as adaptable and ever-changing as the Bogeyman, to confine it to a single image may be what dooms its representation. For this reason I, as well as many I’m sure, feel that Michael Myers may be the best representation; simple, ordinary, “Purely, and simply evil.” Sam Loomis (Halloween) may have known it best, confirming Laurie’s claim that it was the Bogeyman. “As a matter of fact, it was.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhvJiPpTO4s