A History of Big Heads

My recent post on Oom Ambar and The Lords of Oom got me thinking on big-headed humans in general. I’ve always been somewhat interested in/creeped out by the big head aliens that permeate popular culture… and I find it interesting and curious that most people find babies so cute (babies have, proportionally speaking, really big heads) but ‘big brain aliens’ and hydrocephalics scary or horrifying. And don’t get me started on the whole folklore thing were people were those giant head masks to represent different mythical figures during Brazillian/European Carnivals or Chinese New Year(I’m gratified to learn that a lot of folklorists refer to such traditional costumes as “big heads”).

I’ve always found big heads creepy and interesting. Here are a few of my favorites:

“This Island Earth” is an old movie… and I’ve never seen it… but have seen this alien costume reproduced so often… always liked it. Especially those wierd shoulders and long crab-pincer claws.

I’m a little to young to remember “Mars Attacks” when it was first issued by the card company (was it Topps?) in the 50s or 60s, but have always admired the art. Truly fiendish bigheads with laser guns. Tim Burton’s movie was also a lot of fun.

“Invasion of the Saucer Men” is another old movie with big-heads that I admired from reproductions and pictures in magazines like Fangoria that I saw while growing up… but I never saw the movie itself.Dan Dare’s nemesis, “The Mekon.” I first learned of this Mekon through exposure to another sort of Mekon. The Mekon gets extra points for the little floating chair he rides around in.

Big Heads from Star Trek. I mentioned the general ‘big-head’ theory about the future in my previous post — in the 1970s when I was just a shaver, it was common for people to speculate that as humans continued to use their minds more and more and their bodies less and less (because we would have machines to do all of the work), our bodies would shrivel and our brains would grow. Come to think of it, Close Encounters (1977) had the big head people in it too. In addition to the movie, I remember having a ‘Close Encounters’ comic book back in 1977 or so… This mask just looks good. I especially like the little antennae on top.Bighead or grey — now a staple of science fiction, conspiracy theory, alient autopsy videos, etc. I previously wrote about my time in an industrial noise band that ended badly (at least for me).

I drew the art for this album cover (circa 1987)… I also may still have a bunch of stickers with this ‘big-head’ mutant on them somewhere and even a little plaster sculpture I made of the guy. So me and the big head go way back…

4 Comments on “A History of Big Heads”

  1. Talysman says:

    1) The alien — actually, only one kind of alien — from This Island Earth was called a Mut-Ant in the movie. Get it?

    2) The Talosians (Big Heads from Star Trek) are one of the inspirations for my Noösians. Another inspiration is the mutants from Beneath the Planet of the Apes; their heads might not have been all that big, though.

  2. limpey says:

    Talysman: Mut-Ant? As in “mutant ant”? That is bad but not so bad that I won't use it.
    Perhaps the Noösians and The Lords of Oom share a common ancestor?
    It is funny that you should mention Planet of the Apes. A few years ago I rented a copy of “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” because I hadn't seen it in more than 20 years. I was surprised at how much I remembered from the film..but when it came to the scene where all the subterranean humans took their masks off, I was shocked that they just had normal sized heads (bald and covered with scars, but normal sized). I think the impression that 'people of the future' should have giant heads caused me to revise my memory of the film.

  3. limpey says:

    Greg: I don't know the Cereans, but there are very few peaceful contemplatives on Aldeboran so I doubt the Crerans would find my world a suitable habitat.

  4. Talysman says:

    Yep, “Mutant Ants”. The alien Exeter tells Rex Reason that the Metalunans created a slave race from modified ants.

    (As an aside, I swear “Exeter” is the inspiration for the name of the crazy guy Exidor from “Mork and Mindy”.)

    As for the mutants on Beneath the Planet of the Apes, I, too, had the experience of remembering their heads as being much bigger.


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