Halloween frightens Lord Gorf.
Otherwise known as Sir Albert Ryan, Lord Gorf is a Redondo Beach resident whose resume reflects a career dedicated to otherworldly pursuits like hunting vampires and playing Dracula onstage.
Sir Albert fears not the commercialized, Americanized version of Halloween – an autumnal celebration of costumes and candy – but the holiday’s forebear – a much darker affair.
“During this time, the dead were supposed to be returning from the graves and Hades, or the Netherworld, governed by Pluto, or Hades-Pluto, or Pluto-Hades,” he explains in a ghoulishly tinged accent.
“He would release all the souls of the wicked from Hades to come back to Earth to persecute, harass, and haunt the living. Many of these deceased persons were full of hate because a lot of them were murdered and killed, so they came to persecute and injure those people they believed killed them or cause their death, directly or indirectly.”
To ward them off, he explains, the ancient Romans built bonfires. Others left gifts to appease the spirits, unknowingly conceiving the trick-or-treat tradition.
“Giving out tricks and treats to the children came from the idea that Irish, British, Scottish, and Welsh would leave out gifts for the dead to placate them so they would not be harassed on that night,” Sir Albert says.
A self-proclaimed Halloween expert, Sir Albert has harbored a deep-rooted fascination with the macabre – vampires, ghouls, ghosts, and all kinds of evil spirits – since he was a child.
He fervently studies ancient folklore and has been paid to creatively advise directors of horror films, and many times to confirm whether or not a suspicious person is in fact a vampire.
But Halloween, though it frightens him, is one of his favorite nights of the year.
Enthusiastically he talks about Samhain, the Irish lord of the dead, who turned “imprisoned souls” into “horrific monsters” on the eve of Halloween.
Sir Albert talks about the practice of loading a 50-foot wicker figure with human and animal prisoners, and setting it afire in homage to Samhain. He talks of the jack-o-lantern tradition that derives from an ancient Irish tale of a man named Jack who died on Halloween night and was allowed into neither heaven nor hell, so set out to roam the Earth forevermore, carrying a lantern in a hollowed-out turnip.
Sir Albert believes Halloween has become so popular because people love stories about “the Otherworld” and are “to a certain degree in love with this dark side.”
“Psychologists and psychiatrists have gone over this for years,” he says. “What is this element in man? Man is a fallen creature. His fallen nature makes him susceptible to, and gravitate toward, the dark side.”
That horror films do so well at the box office and Halloween costume shops sell out of macabre merchandise so quickly is proof, he says.
He believes the holiday is experiencing a return to its “pagan roots,” prompted either by Hollywood or an expansion of groups involved in demonic worship.
“All these movies have made Halloween more gory, more dark,” Sir Albert said. “[I saw] this one little old lady who went into a Halloween store and she goes, ‘My god,’ she said, ‘This is terrible… This is not like the Halloweens we celebrated. This is awful.’”
He strongly urges parents to accompany their children on Halloween, and smiles coyly when asked whether that constitutes unnecessary fear mongering.
“I don’t know any real evidence, but the idea [that] anything evil might happen… I believe it’s the proper night for it to happen.”