When your whole smelly corpse gets up and shambles away, it's a zombie. When your bones do a funny little dance and never stop cackling, it's a skeleton. When the abstract essence of your soul floats around and leaves a mysterious goo on the walls, it's a ghost. But aren't there quite a few more layers to the human body? IMPORTANT layers? Layers that still look at once frighteningly human and inhuman when you strip away everything else!?

You surely already know that I'm a lifelong proponent of disembodied brain creatures, an entire rich tradition we've seen throughout horror, fantasy and science fiction media that I've already observed to be confoundingly uncommon in the Halloween marketing industry. In over twenty years of avidly collecting and documenting these kinds of things, This 2019 Petsmart brain is even the only example I have of a simple Brain and Eyeballs combo in a Halloween item, if you can believe it!

So "personified" or "living" brains are something we ought to see more of for the spooky season. We've established that. But, there's no reason we should stop there, either. The human brain is connected to a network of nerves throughout your entire body, and when you get rid of all that other meat and bone, you're left with a wildly spooky new pal, something that could truly only ever be called a Neuroid - sweet and simple! It's a weird, eerie, ready-made public domain monster design going critically untapped, and not just by the Halloween business, either...

Scouring horror movies, cartoons, comics and games, there aren't as many instances of Neuroids as you might have thought. The most recent case I can think of was in Gravity Falls around a decade ago, though that was mostly a brain monster with a few nerves attached, or possibly only arteries come to think of it, and it was only a momentary illusion manifested by a ghost!

Pathfinder's Book of the Dead featured an undead monster called Raw Nerve, and it's precisely the kind of being I'm imagining, though personally I would have kept the eyeballs attached!

In video games, the concept has come up only a handful of times in primarily indie titles, like the adorable Enlightened Ones from Lunacid.

And in common books, the closest thing to a famous example of this is when Professor Brooklyn takes this form only momentarily, failing to COMMIT and becoming a circulatory system by practically the next day. Loser!!

A superb case I almost forgot to add is Brainbow, a one-off villain from the hilariously weird Tigtone and counterpart to the skeleton, Rainbones, which elaborates on the real anatomy only by adding a toothless mouth and fabulous colors.

The only other major media Neuroid in my recollection is still arguably more obscure than any of these examples, since all of them at least had names or some degree of focus: a nameless, non-speaking character seen for mere seconds in Will Vinton's Claymation Comedy of Horrors, a 1991 Halloween special I positively adored as soon as I saw its television debut. This isn't even the only monster design of interest in the special, but it's the perfect neuron monster. It has everything! Everything except the ability to actually swallow its drink, but that doesn't stop the poor dear from trying.

As Halloween products, these entities couldn't be simpler: a rigid or jointed plastic model, a stretchy squishy toy, a rubber prop with a wire armature, anything you can do with a fake skeleton can be done with a fake nervous system using all the same materials and manufacturing methods (would you Crazy Bonez folks consider branching out into other biological tissues, perhaps?!)

It obviously wouldn't have to be anatomically accurate, of course; the hundreds of branches can be simplified quite a bit and still be recognizable!

But as with all our bestiary entries, we're also here to posit what this monster actually is and what it does. The first question is easy enough, since any origin you want to assign a ghost or a skeleton is equally applicable. If you'd rather something at least as specific as a ghost's "unfinished business" angle, maybe a Neuroid would most logically tie in with "psychic" forces?

Millions of people around the world believe strongly enough in the possibility of extrasensory perception that they try everything from meditation to dangerous chemical stimulation in their effort to unlock some secret superpowers they hope to find hidden in the human brain, but, as with our beloved FIENDS and other malevolent telekinetic beings, maybe your own brain isn't the best place to go figuratively digging around for buried treasure? Maybe these hypothetical hidden functions have a reason to be hidden? Maybe you're just as liable to wake up some part of your brain that decides it's getting a little too stuffy in there?

Or, maybe it all works out exactly how you wanted it to work out, you get your telekinesis or your clairvoyance or you learn how to make tulpas and dreamwalk and gallavant around the astral plane, but when the time finally comes that you're supposed to die, that poor overclocked superbrain just doesn't get the memo, the same gnarly powers keep it unnaturally preserved and it just keeps puppeting your carcass around until everything else you used to be rots away and falls off. HELL YEAH!

If the psychic stuff isn't your jam, though, maybe too mystical and magical for your preferred brand of horror, there's still plenty to be said of a Neuroid as some sort of far-fetched mutation, genetic experiment or extraterrestrial phenomenon, in which case I think its behavior would be pretty straightforward: it feeds on brains and it's electrical. There you go! All done!

Whichever way people might choose to interpret the Neuroid, I urge all of you Halloween prop makers, independent or corporate, to take what we've said here into consideration. There's a painfully obvious, visually distinct, criminally overlooked monster right under our noses, basically under all of our major anatomical features, and the sight of a slimy, branching humanoid figure dangling from someone's front porch isn't something any trick-or-treater would soon forget!



Written by me with illustrations by our friend Bynine, this little book collects thirteen monsters inspired by Halloween decorations. Get a real copy here while they last, or a digital version on my ko-fi.