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Calacas

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Mexican skeletons decorated as art pieces, particularly for Day of the Dead. Often living beings in their own Spirit World.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
acrobox on Nov 24th 2017 at 5:54:44 PM
Last Edited By:
acrobox on Apr 10th 2018 at 10:48:06 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/calacas.jpg

Steeped in Mayan culture that wasn't erased by Spanish conquest, Calacas are representations of the dead celebrated in Mexican art and holidays. Particularly Dia de los Muertos.

If you find yourself in a Mexican inspired Spirit World, chances are you'll run into these as living skeletons. For them being dead isn't all that bad at all, it's not much different from being alive. Their "lifeblood" is tied to their living descendants memories of them in the real world. They experience a final death when they are completely forgotten by the living. Until then, death is seen as a natural and joyous part of anyone's life cycle.

They are often depicted in festive colors, playing instruments, and surrounded by leaves and flowers. Calacas iconography in art, facepaint, costumes etc. is also fairly common.

See also Dem Bones.


Examples

Film

  • Coco: The Calacas are all skeletal, but their design include fully-functioning human eyes and small ornate markings. They are only aloud to venture to the land of the living when their living relatives have their photographs displayed on an altar during Dia De Los Muertos and can take the astral forms of inanimate objects (from food to guitars and clothes) back with them. Living humans that are brought to the afterlife can only be sent back from a blessing of a relative that is already there before sunrise lest they turn into a calicos permanently. Should the memory of them on Earth fade away completely, they themselves fade away into "the final death."
  • The Book of Life: All those who have died and have people among the living who remember them live out their afterlives in an endless fiesta in the Land of the Remembered. They are usually white skeletons with colorful designs decorating them, their eyes glowing orange dots in their eye sockets. Should the memory of them fade away completely, they are then sent to the Land of the Forgotten, where they wander aimlessly - their bones blackened with glowing green eyes and markings - before fading away into dust..

Other

  • "Ladies and Skeleton", a segment of The Thrilling Adventure Hour "A Halloween Beyond Belief" episode, features Frank and Sadie Doyle confronting a Calaca. Here, the Calaca is described as a monster that kills via Involuntary Dance and, in the past, it killed and has since enslaved the spirit of Frank's first love. His victim gets away and, when it appears to take her back, speaks with a stereotypical accent with rattling noises in the background to suggest the bones. The Calaca can only be killed by a silver bullet. Frank utilizes a previous episode's Chekhov's Gun, literally the gun wielded by famed playwright and werewolf hunter Anton Chekhov, to dispatch it.
  • Rob Zombie, his wife and the rest of the band in the music video "The Life And Times Of A Teenage Rock God" wear face-paint that evoke the calacas look, with Rob and the band dressed like a mariachi band driving in a flower-decorated car with Satan while Sheri Moon Zombie is dressed as Santa Muerte.

Tabletop Games

  • In Pathfinder, the Catrina is a variety of Psychopomp that takes the form of a beautiful, festively dressed, skeletal woman to welcome mortals into the afterlife — sometimes after easing a stubborn hanger-on off the mortal coil with a Kiss of Death.

Video Games

  • Grim Fandango depicts the dead as living skeletons. The society they established on the threshold of the true afterlife is equally inspired by the Day of the Dead and Film Noir.
  • Guacamelee!: The Big Bad, Carlos Calaca, is a wicked skeleton who has sinister-looking red and gray markings on his skull.
  • Overwatch: Sombra and Reaper, the two Mexican members of the terrorist group Talon, both use calacas-derived imagery in their gear. Heath packs and enemies hacked by Sombra display electronic sugar skulls, and she also wears calavera face paint in her Los Muertos skins. As for Reaper, his El Blanco and Mariachi skins replace his standard skull mask with a more elaborate calavera one.
  • Super Mario Odyssey: Tostarenans in the Sand Kingdom are colorful skeletons wearing ponchos and sombreros, often seen carrying maracas.
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Calavera is a boss Rabbid who has his face painted to resemble one of these. He is fought in the spooky World 3.

Western Animation

  • In the El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera episode "The Grave Escape", Manny and Frida end up in the Land of the Dead after a battle with supervillainess Santana of the Dead. With the help of Manny's superhero and super villain ancestors, they make it back to the land of the living and defeat Sartana's army of forgotten dead.

Feedback: 19 replies

Nov 24th 2017 at 5:55:34 PM

just wanted to throw this out there. hopefully someone who knows more than me can help flesh it out further

Nov 24th 2017 at 8:08:33 PM

See also Skeletal Musician.

Video Game:

  • Grim Fandango depicts the dead as living skeletons. The society they established on the threshold of the true afterlife is equally inspired by the Day of the Dead and Film Noir.

Nov 25th 2017 at 12:19:34 AM

  • Corrected spelling (lifecycle).
  • Corrected punctuation (changed a colon to a period).
  • Examples section
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
    • Changed media section titles to All Caps and performed a colonectomy.

Nov 25th 2017 at 8:04:50 AM

A picture and some rewrites of examples (if that's fine with you...)

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/calacas.jpg

    Film — Animation 
  • All of those who have passed on and wind up in the land of the dead in Coco become this. The Calacas are all skeletal, but their design include fully-functioning human eyes and small ornate markings. They are only aloud to venture to the land of the living when their living relatives have their photographs displayed on an altar during Dia De Los Muertos and can take the astral forms of inanimate objects (from food to guitars and clothes) back with them. Living humans that are brought to the afterlife can only be sent back from a blessing of a relative that is already there before sunrise lest they turn into a calicos permanently. Should the memory of them on Earth fade away completely, they themselves fade away into "the final death."
  • In The Book Of Life, all those who have died and have people among the living who remember them live out their afterlives in an endless fiesta in the Land of the Remembered. They are usually white skeletons with colorful designs decorating them, their eyes glowing orange dots in their eye sockets. Should the memory of them fade away completely, they are then sent to the Land of the Forgotten, where they wander aimlessly - their bones blackened with glowing green eyes and markings - before fading away into dust.

    Western Animation 
  • In the El Tigre The Adventures Of Manny Rivera episode "The Grave Escape", Manny and Frida end up in the Land of the Dead after a battle with supervillainess Santana of the Dead. With the help of Manny's superhero and super villain ancestors, they make it back to the land of the living and defeat Sartana's army of forgotten dead.

Nov 25th 2017 at 2:25:08 PM

  • "Ladies and Skeleton", a segment of The Thrilling Adventure Hour "A Halloween Beyond Belief" episode, features Frank and Sadie Doyle confronting a Calaca. Here, the Calaca is described as a monster that kills via Involuntary Dance and, in the past, it killed and has since enslaved the spirit of Frank's first love. Its victim gets away and, when it appears to take her back, speaks with a stereotypical accent with rattling noises in the background to suggest the bones. The Calaca can only be killed by a silver bullet. Frank utilizes a previous episode's Chekhovs Gun, literally the gun wielded by famed playwright and werewolf hunter Anton Chekhov, to dispatch it.

Nov 25th 2017 at 2:25:29 PM

How Did We Miss This One?

Video Games

Nov 26th 2017 at 12:50:36 AM

  • In Pathfinder, the Catrina is a variety of Psychopomp that takes the form of a beautiful, festively dressed, skeletal woman to welcome mortals into the afterlife — sometimes after easing a stubborn hanger-on off the mortal coil with a Kiss Of Death.

Nov 26th 2017 at 4:29:35 AM

Western Animation

Nov 26th 2017 at 2:44:24 PM

The picture needs a caption to list the relevant works.

Nov 26th 2017 at 2:50:45 PM

Just edited the draft to turn "Carlos Calaca" in the Guacamelee example into normal text. I accidentally wrote it in Camel Case when I first wrote the example. My mistake.

Dec 15th 2017 at 10:41:50 PM

Bump. I think it is quite launchworthy by now

Dec 16th 2017 at 9:08:48 AM

It might be better to give it some more time to collect examples. It technically doesn't need more but it'll be stronger with more examples anyway.

Jan 9th 2018 at 12:35:30 PM

Music

  • Rob Zombie, his wife and the rest of the band in the music video "The Life And Times Of A Teenage Rock God" wear face-paint that evoke the calacas look, with Rob and the band dressed like a mariachi band driving in a flower-decorated car with Satan while Sheri Moon Zombie is dressed as Santa Muerte.

Apr 1st 2018 at 5:10:08 PM

last bump for examples otherwise i'm gonna launch soon

Apr 1st 2018 at 10:38:25 PM

  • Overwatch: Sombra and Reaper, the two Mexican members of the terrorist group Talon, both use calacas-derived imagery in their gear. Heath packs and enemies hacked by Sombra display electronic sugar skulls, and she also wears calavera face paint in her Los Muertos skins. As for Reaper, his El Blanco and Mariachi skins replace his standard skull mask with a more elaborate calavera one.

Apr 10th 2018 at 6:45:20 PM

Just Launch It Already. Oh, I think there's a typo in Dia de los Muertos in the description, though.

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