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  • October 30, 2023 6 min read 0 Comments

    This is it. It’s almost Halloween and I can’t wait! It’s interesting to self-reflect on my excitement for this holiday. As a child, of course the draw was always the near-infinite amount of candy I would gather throughout the night. Nothing beats a pillow-case full of unhealthy, sugary treats after an evening of walking door-to-door and demanding “trick or treat!”

    As an adult, however, the holiday has taken on a deeper meaning. Mostly, the holiday represents to me the beginning of the “holiday season”—the chain of events that is Halloween, Thanksgiving, and winter break. As the year ends, work tends to lighten up and I have more time to spend with family. I’m also one who enjoys a pumpkin flavored beverage here and an apple flavored dessert there.

    Last but not least, I also like mildly scary forms of entertainment to celebrate Halloween. I’ve already spent time dwelling on my favorite Magic-card inspired Halloween costumes, which was a fun article, as well as Fall- and Halloween- themed cards. There’s one last bucket I want to explore this week: Magic card names and artwork that remind me of scary movies, just to wholly embrace this time of year!

    1. Frankenstein’s Monster

    frankensteins monster

    Movie: Frankenstein
    Year: 1931
    Key Actor: Boris Karloff

    One of the most common misnomers this time of year is calling the monster from Mary Shelly’s famous book “Frankenstein” even though it was the doctor who was given that name. Therefore, the Magic card from The Dark actually got it right, referring to the monster as “Frankenstein’s Monster” rather than Frankenstein.

    I’m sure there have been re-makes of the movie, but the 1931 is the original, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I can still hear the eccentric doctor’s declaration, “It’s alive! It’s alive!” While the movie wasn’t really true to Mary Shelly’s book, there’s a classic Frankenstein’s Monster costume trick-or-treating in the neighborhood every year. A true classic.

    Anson Maddocks does a fantastic job bringing Frankenstein’s Monster to life (pun intended). The creature depicted on the card looks much more frightening than the character from the movie. It truly does inspire fear, and is a brilliant piece of art from one of Magic’s earlier sets.

    2. Triskaidekaphobia


    Movie: Friday the 13th

    Year: 1980
    Key Actress: Betsy Palmer

    I have a confession to make: I’ve never seen this classic horror film. In fact, [spoilers]when I researched it on Wikipedia and found out that the antagonist was a woman, I was shocked.

    There is no one-for-one relationship between the fear of the number 13 and the Friday the 13th Franchise. I simply made the connection in my head because of the obvious commonality of the number 13. It’s no massive leap of judgment to suggest that someone experiencing traumatizing events on the 13th may develop a fear of the number. Hence, my connection.

    Check out Willian Murai’s depiction of the card in the artwork above. It is one of the most clever and evocative pieces of horror-themed Magic art. Take a moment and count some of the items you see in the picture—you’ll find that there are 13 of an item in many instances. Thirteen utensils hanging from the ceiling, thirteen stones lying on the floor in front of the fireplace, thirteen logs in the fireplace, thirteen rocks that make up the arch of the fireplace, and thirteen rivets on the barrel in the foreground. It’s quite impressive!

    Perhaps that’s the secondary reason I wanted to highlight this gem. Yes, it is horror-themed and fits right in with a violent movie like Friday the 13th. The cleverness of the art, however, is the icing on the cake that makes this a masterpiece.

    3. Demonic Tutor (Judge promo)

    judge promo demonic tutor art

    Movie: M3GAN
    Year: 2022
    Key Actress: Amy Donald

    I’m not sure where the concept of a creepy doll planting evil thoughts in the minds of children came from, but it feels like there are a multitude of movies based on the concept. I ran a google search for “creepy doll movie” because I had forgotten the title of the most recent, “M3GAN.” I found a ton of matches!

    There’s “Dolls”, “Annabelle”, “Robert”, “The Boy”, “Sabrina”, “Child’s Play”, and perhaps the most recognizable, “Chucky”. There must be some kind of fascination with the concept because the list of films goes on and on.

    I selected M3GAN both for its recency and because the evil doll is a female, which seemed fitting given Anna Steinbauer’s art for Demonic Tutor. In fact, I almost wonder if the card’s artwork and flavor text could have influenced the film (not likely). “Mama says it’s my imagination, but I know you’d never lie to me.” The line gives me the shivers, and the card’s artwork is one of my all-time favorites!

    4. Count Dracula (Sorin the Mirthless)

    count dracula sorin the mirthless

    Movie: Dracula
    Year: 1931
    Key Actor: Bela Lugosi

    Did you know there was an alternate art version of Crimson Vow’s Sorin the Mirthless that depicted Count Dracula? I didn’t until recently! There are actually a number of Dracula-related cards in Magic, but the actual Count Dracula seemed to be the most iconic.

    Bastien L. Deharme illustrates a wonderfully scary, dark, black-and-white inspired piece of artwork for this card. I absolutely love the detail on the character—once again, the person shown in the card art is far scarier than the actor who plays Dracula in the original film. Of course, there have been numerous iterations of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in film and on tv since, but I always viewed the 1931 classic featuring Bela Lugosi as the “OG” movie.

    You won’t exactly have nightmares watching the movie, but you might if you stare at the card long enough!

    5. Civilized Scholar // Homicidal Brute

    Movie: Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde
    Year: 1931
    Key Actor: Fredric March

    I’m taking a little bit of creative liberty with this one, but it can’t be that much of a stress to see the Civilized Scholar as Dr. Jekyl and the Homicidal Brute as Mr. Hyde. The card’s art, by Michael C. Hayes, and the setting of Innistrad seem perfectly on theme with the classic tale originally by Robert Louis Stevenson!

    This is another movie I’ll admit I haven’t seen, but it’s on my list. By the way, isn’t it amusing that many of the classic horror movies came out in 1931? America must have seen a surge of interest in horror movies that year to justify creation of so many such films. Maybe after The Great Depression, people wanted something else to be afraid of instead of their declining retirement funds.

    6. Invisible Stalker

    invisible stalker

    Movie: The Invisible Man
    Year: 1933
    Key Actor: Claude Rains

    “The Invisible Man” was two years late relative to the other classic horror movies, but I still categorize it right alongside “Dracula” and “Frankenstein.” This story is based on an 1897 novel by H.G. Wells about a chemist who discovers the secret to invisibility. Despite the excitement of such an invention, the repercussions are far worse than young Dr. Jack Griffin ever anticipated.

    The card Invisible Stalker isn’t precisely depicting the same character—it almost looks like Bud Cook’s central figure is enjoying a night of prowling while invisible. Despite this difference, I still think of the classic story when I see this piece of artwork. I love that the figure is wearing a hat and jacket in the rain, but there’s no visible head or body otherwise. This makes for quite the disturbing effect!

    7. Cyclopean Mummy

    cyclopean mummy

    Movie: The Mummy
    Year: 1932
    Key Actor: Boris Karloff

    I wanted to wrap up on another classic, both in terms of movie inspiration and Magic card age. What better choice than Cyclopean Mummy, depicting a [gigantic?] menacing mummy attacking a poor, unfortunate soul. Edward Beard, Jr.’s art for this classic concept really shines, and the arts is one of my favorites from the Legends set.

    The movie itself I didn’t love as much as some of its contemporary horror films. Still, you can’t complain too much about any movie where Boris Karloff is the primary antagonist! He was made for creepy roles like these.

    I suppose I could have refenced the far-more-recent iteration of The Mummy, starring Brendan Frasier, but that movie was more about action and lighthearted humor than horror. The original 1932 film seemed much more on-theme.

    Wrapping It Up

    If you enjoyed these linkages between Magic cards, their artwork, and horror movies, then I highly recommend reading an article with a similar theme over at Star City Games, written by Chase Carroll. In Chase’s piece you’ll find some similarities and many differences. The two columns are complimentary, and give readers a host of scary movies to consider.

    In the meantime, I wish everyone a very happy Halloween to those who celebrate. I know my kids can’t wait to dress up and collect endless amounts of candy. As for me…let’s just say I’m enjoying the cooler weather and the occasional, mildly scary movie or show to get myself into the holiday spirit.