Gum Heads are humanoids with gray, mottled skin that appears to be decaying. Their faces appear somewhat human, however, they hardly have any eyes or a mouth. Furthermore, they make monkey-like screeching and grunting noises. They have long, thin tails.
They come in two varieties, called Old Types and New Types:
- Old Type Gum Heads are completely gray and are much more common. They have large tumors growing out of their throats, which almost appear like an exposed heart or another head emerging. The flesh on the face seems to be melted and stretched downward, leading into the second head.
- The New Types have red patches on their bodies that appear like scrapes and cuts and the tumor-like appendage is now a bloody red. Both heads have faces.
Gum Heads seem to be somewhat clumsy and of lower intelligence than humans. They, in both behavior and vocalizations, are very much like apes, and although dangerous in confrontation, can act rather goofy. Their movements sometimes consists of randomly hopping back and forth on their hind legs, and their death scenes can be considered quite melodramatic. The intelligent Gum Heads of both varieties behave in the same fashion.
They have two walking modes, one of which is bounding around quickly on all-fours, and the other is shambling slowly on two, a behavior that is common in many types of primates and is a manner of threatening an opponent. In other words, Gum Heads are both bipedal and quadrupedal.
Their primary method of attack is to strike with their arms and bite Henry; however, they can inflict greater damage if they happen to procure a weapon. New Types are much more likely to carry a weapon, and are faster and a bit stronger on the attack. The Gum Head is the only creature of Silent Hill 4: The Room that identifies the usefulness of exterior resources to defend themselves.
Gum Heads are also social, seeing as both types are usually found in coalitions, therefore making them an even more treacherous foe.
The Gum Heads may be a representation of Walter Sullivan's misanthropic views of the majority of society, his fear of adults as a child, and generally negative of humanity, perhaps even viewing them as "monstrous". They appear masculine and not feminine; it is likely that they symbolize men, while the Patients probably symbolize how Walter views women.
Some Gum Heads holds weapons, which gives the beasts an authoritative air and the ability to abuse, like Walter was abused by Andrew DeSalvo. The fact that Gum Heads have a strong tendency to steal items from Henry may indicate Walter views people as greedy and self-interested. Their blurry, indistinguishable, indiscernible faces may symbolize people's lack of individual identity to Walter and how no one seems "real" to Walter, only copies of one another. This can be seen through his attitude when he kills others, not really seeing the people as fellow sentient beings, but simply sacrifices that must be handled to see his "mother".
Their similarity to apes and monkeys may represent how Walter views humanity as primitive, of lower intellect and consciousness. Gum Heads come in two varieties, dubbed Old and New. New Type Gum Heads almost look as if they are wearing pants and their eyes are almost more discernible, but their neck growth appears bloodier as well. This could symbolize how Walter sees civilization, and how regardless of what clothes men wear, their original behavior and inherent dark nature remains the same.
When Gum Heads approach Henry, they have a tendency to waddle side-to-side and rarely attack him immediately, almost as if they are enticed by Henry and are trying to analyze him, almost as if they are wondering, "Is he one of us or not?" This gives more credence to them being Walter's idea of "humans".
The Gum Heads also have tumorous growths that may symbolize how Walter views humanity as a cancer or disease to the planet, or his general negative view of people. The growths appear on the neck, dangling from their mouths, and over their hearts/chest area, which might symbolize how people can say harmful/hurtful things, or hold harmful/hurtful things in their metaphorical "heart".
Silent Hill: The Arcade
In Silent Hill: The Arcade, their design has been simplified and is now distinctly man-shaped with gray skin and a speckling of darker marks similar to the spots on a cheetah. Among other revisions in their appearance, they seem to now fight barehanded and no longer seem to be malformed or falling apart.
- At the very beginning of the Building World, when Henry walks down the long passageway, Gum Heads can be seen jumping across the buildings if the player tilts the camera up.
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