Tuesday, October 21, 2008 Halloween Countdown: The Shadow People

While looking for scary old-time radio programs to share with my goddaughter earlier this year, I came across several recommendations for the Hall of Fantasy tale, "The Shadow People". What piqued my interest was that the play borrowed its occult investigator character from a literary source. Peter Cushing's Van Helsing was one of my heroes growing up, and I still have a soft spot for monster hunters of all stripes, so I had to listen to the episode. It's a fairly creepy tale about malevolent creatures of darkness that stalk a young woman and her family.

After listening to the play, I couldn't recall where the character of Dr. Hesselius originated. While Googling for the info, I discovered that some folks believe that the shadow people are real! I came across this Wikipedia entry during my search:

Shadow people (also known as shadow men, shadow folk, or shadow beings) are supernatural shadow-like creatures of both modern folklore and traditional native American beliefs. According to folklore, they appear as dark forms in the peripheries of people's vision and disintegrate, or move between walls, when noticed.[1][2]

Reports of shadow people occupy a similar position in the popular consciousness to ghost sightings, but differ in that shadow people are not reported as having human features, wearing modern/period clothing, or attempting to communicate. Witnesses also do not report the same feelings of being in the presence of something that 'was once human'. Some individuals have described being menaced, chased, or in some rare instances, attacked by shadow people. There have also been reports of shadow people appearing in front of witnesses, of which they stay there or lingering for several seconds before disappearing. Witnesses report that encounters are typically accompanied by a feeling of dread.[1][3]

I've since come across several websites devoted to the phenomenon. Whether or not I actually believe in it, this kind of stuff always creeps me out. And 'tis the season to be frightened! You can listen to "The Shadow People" using the embedded mp3 below, or right-click and save this link to download the file to your hard drive. Then check out the links below the player for some spooky seasonal reading!

Monstropedia entry on shadow people

The Hatman Project

Hall of Fantasy Episode Guide

By the way, Dr. Hesselius came from a series of stories by Sheridan Le Fanu, most famously Carmilla.