Written by Jonathan Wojcik

Some Halloween monsters are widely known. Everyone knows a mummy, a wolfman and a vampire when they see one.

Others, however, are a little more elusive. Some of them, despite appearing time and again, don't even have names and aren't even recognized as monsters in their own right. We're here to fix that. Throughout October, we're going to analyze some of the more obscure Halloween icons that truly deserve bona-fide monster status, beginning with...

The Hocus

What is a Hocus? We coined the term earlier this Halloween season, but I've been sighting these things for years now. Witch's hats with legs and shoes. I've seen them as figurines, as plush decorations, as wooden signs, as flags, as stickers, you name it, but for the life of me I can't really pinpoint their origin. All I know is that they've caught on enough that they more than warrant their own name and attributes.

Obviously, a Hocus is related to the classic Halloween witch, or perhaps even a form taken by a witch, finally transcending from a human to something else entirely, but the big question is whether transformation into a Hocus is a step up or a step down.

A Hocus could, after all, represent a witch of such immeasurable power that she doesn't really need much in the way of a body anymore, making the Hocus a huge threat in a small, comical body. Maybe a witch's hat is the true storehouse of her magic? Maybe it can grow so powerful that it consumes her?

On the other hand, Hocuses seem fairly common, so what we could be looking at is a lower-level familiar, a magical construct, or perhaps even a "degenerated" witch. A witch who couldn't keep her own hexes under control and collapsed into a magical singularity that happens to also look like a walking hat. The Numemon of witches, for those of you with the good taste to know what being the Numemon of anything means.

If a Hocus is, indeed, a witch overwhelmed and warped by her own magic, then the creatures would naturally vary in threat level anyway. Most might represent younger rookies who just couldn't hack it, but even the most terrifying elder witches and warlocks may run the same risk as they seek ever greater power.

(Becoming slightly more than just the hat?)

All proper Halloween monsters have some standout habits, weaknesses and quirks of course, so we'll have to brainstorm here.

Hats with legs strike me as something that probably dances. Hocuses might be highly susceptible to music, flocking to it and grooving so uncontrollably that the right song playing on a loop could effectively bind them to one area. Useful, except I want to say that any humans present might find it impossible to resist dancing right along with them, maybe even dancing to death, a concept that cropped up more than once in older fairy tales.

I'm sure Hocuses are also fond of bright colors and shiny objects, probably modifying their "outfit" as they age and maintaining ferret-like stashes of pilfered jewels, socks and yarn. Leaving a few worthless baubles just outside your door might be enough to keep your family safe from a Hocus's mischief, but unfortunately keep it coming back for more, night after night, or even start bringing its little friends around.

...But what else might they do? Every monster gets up to some sort of devilry and misdoing. Do Hocuses steal children, like so many fairies and goblins? Do they raise the dead? Do they wilt crops and bring bad weather?

Whatever their motives - which I'll leave up to you - I think it goes without saying that every single Hocus is absolutely coo-coo bananas. I look at any given one of these things and I can practically already hear its endless, endless giggling. Whatever magic a Hocus has, it probably doesn't use it for anything that makes any sense to anybody else. It's a hat. Of course it wouldn't.

You piss off a Hocus, and you're probably looking at a hex that'll turn your teeth into caterpillars and your blood into cheese fondue.

You don't even want to know what they might do when they like you.