Halloween is an ancient holiday which has evolved significantly over the centuries. In pre-Christian times, the 31st of October was the last day of the year for the Celts of France, UK & Ireland – on that night they celebrated Samhain, when they believed the boundaries between the living and spirit worlds were weakened. From the 7th to 11th century, the Church integrated it into Christian traditions – 31st October was called All-Hallows-Eve and became the precursor part of the holy days of All Saints and All Souls, still celebrated by Catholics today. European traditions of All-Hallows-Eve travelled with emigrants to America, where costumes and trick-or-treat evolved and the holiday became a widely celebrated secular holiday.
Many of you may be familiar with the history behind Halloween, however, you’re probably less familiar with the contribution Polyurethane makes to the holidays. Polyurethane is used for many of the more elaborate Halloween props we used to decorate our homes and towns, from false stone furniture, as pictured, to horse drawn hearses.
It’s has played an even more significant role in the movies that most of us curl up to on Halloween. In the movie Hatchet, the all important hatchet was in fact made from polyurethane.
Stunt weapons and armour used in many popular movies, from Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia and Thor are made from polyurethane technology. In the Lord of the Rings, the rather impressive Sentinels of Númenor which guard the entrance on Gondor, are in fact 8ft tall polyurethane statues. The use of polyurethanes in movies has even encouraged some people to make their own home made polyurethane Iron Man suits. We suggest you try that one with adult supervision!
Space travel in movies has thrown up some interesting demands on props departments. The BBC’s Doctor Who team sprayed polyurethane foam onto cardboard tubes, Christmas Tree lights and bubble wrap to create this alien space ship.
Take a look at Star War’s Exogorth, or space slug, which you can see Luke escaping from here. Its teeth are made from polyurethane (brownie point for anyone willing to dress up as an Exogorth this Halloween!). Any celebrities lucky enough to visit the Star Wars modelling studios were given one of the five inch teeth as a memento.
Lastly, here’s a video which has nothing to do with Halloween, but which the Star Wars fans out there might enjoy…
Happy Halloween from the Polyurethanes team!