A fun little blog post in the spirit of Halloween; I’ve composed a list of monsters that since childhood have possessed me with both a sense of gaudy fascination and absolute terror. I was always a bit too keen on creatures of the dark, I collected the entire first three series of Matchbox’s Monster In My Pocket toys (except Ganesha, which was taken off the market as it was deemed offensive to the Hindu community, now it’s a collectors item so if anyone has one lying around the house…It would be swell if you’d send it on, ta) and when I was about six, I found an old video tape with a Hammer version of Dracula. I watched the entire film without my mother noticing and was utterly traumatised for weeks to come, convincing myself that Christopher Lee was outside my window. The entrants on my list are a mix of the traditional monster movie stars, with a few characters far less iconic, but equally as dramatic. The one thing they all have in common is that at some stage, each of them were believed in and feared by mankind. Indeed many people still believe there are Vampires and Banshees lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce. Read this list and learn how to recognise each one, perhaps it will save your life…
The Vampire should really be higher on my list, but with the recent overkill of Vampire themed films/media recently, they have (excuse the pun) lost some of their bite. No Twilight fans, Vampires do not sparkle in the sunlight, nor do they fall in love with psychics or slayers. Vampires are broody, solitary creatures that venture out through the night to drain the blood of some unfortunate (though often very sexy) virgin. They can transform into a creature of the night like a bat, a wolf or a rat and often have the power to hypnotise their victims. One of the reasons Vampires are so popular is the extreme sensuality they exude when they claim a victim. Targeting the erogenous zones-the neck, upper thigh and breast they expel both sexiness and vulgarity that is both endearing and terrifying. And unlike most monsters, Vampire come in both sexes. We have the tall brooding male Vampire, and the sultry exotic female Vamp. Utterly iconic.
9 Spring Heeled Jack
Spring Heeled Jack was an actual villain who traipsed around London from the early 1800s and terrorised the city for neigh on 100 years. Dressed in a cape with eyes that seemed to glow like fire, he derived his name from his spectacular ability to jump incredible heights to escape from police. His favourite targets were women walking home alone on the dark London streets. He would leap at them, fondle them, spew fire in their faces and leave just as soon as he had come. Many theories were put forward as to who he actually was. A rouge fire-eater, a trained Kangaroo in a suit and even an extra terrestrial with gravity defying powers were all thrown into the mix. The most likely theory is that he was just a highly gifted athlete with a twisted sense of humour and that his antics inspired many copycat Jacks. The same man terrorising citizens in 1830 could hardly be the same one leaping carriages in 1900 could it? Despite his feared reputation on the streets of London, Jack was only responsible for one death, when a woman he spat fire at stumbled backwards into a muddy puddle and was drowned. This didn’t seem to bother him though as he continued his reign of terror for another fifty years.
Preserved in bandages thousands of years ago, the Mummy has been sleeping for aeons and is now pissed of that some tea drinking English morons are disturbing his tomb and stealing his treasure. The old school look of the Mummy is about as iconic as a monster can be, but in all honesty what does he do to you? He doesn’t drink your blood or turn you to stone. I think he probably strangles you but he doesn’t look all that fast so I’m sure its possible to shake him off right? Well actually, the power behind the Mummy isn’t so much what he will physically do to you so much as what will happen to you if you disturb or disrespect him. There are countless stories of archaeologists who unearthed tombs who suddenly became withdrawn and frightened immediately after, then within a few days they simply…died. The day Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb his pet canary was swallowed by a cobra. Cobras, as the goddess Wadjet, were the protectors of the Pharaoh. Lord Carnarvon, the financier of Carter’s exploration died in Cairo only a few weeks after the Curse of Tutakhamun was announced publicly and ignored. The moment of his death all the lights in the city went out and back home in England his dog was reported to howl for hours. Coincidence? Perhaps, or maybe it was the work of an angry Mummy.
Medusa, caught shagging in Athena’s temple (or raped in some stories) and as punishment for the insult, was transformed into a beast so ugly, one look at her would turn you to stone. Originally depicted as a beautiful priestess with flowing blonde locks, her vanity was taken away from her as her hair turned to live snakes, and her pale skin grew scales.
I’m not sure if Medusa is a sympathetic character who only wants the men who visit her to stay with her, therefore petrifies them, or if she is simply a demon who collects stone victims to decorate her garden. The idea that one cannot even look at her without dying is a terrifying concept, which in some ways makes her the most tragic monster of all time. Her death differs depending on the legend. Some tales say she caught sight of her own reflection of fell victim to her own power, whilst others say the hero Perseus decapitated her to win his mother’s freedom. Poor Medusa never really stood a chance…
What makes the Bogeyman different from the other monsters on this list is that he is not a tangible foe. He doesn’t have a definite shape or method of killing; he is simply the evil man that lurks in wait for his chance to seize a child. A child is always the victim of choice for a bogeyman. In fact it is doubtful an adult can even see one. They make take any form they wish, usually utilising a form that is both familiar with the child, yet terrifying. Often they take the form of a clown, such as in Stephen King’s IT. Sometimes they take the form of an old lady or gentleman, but despite these innocent guises their face is always the same, that of a deformed man with razor teeth and black slit eyes. The bogeyman will eat the child but part of his diet is not just the consumption, but also the fear. A bogeyman will not be satisfied with simply killing a child unless they have drawn out the process so that the child has experienced the ultimate terror.
Much as I love the 1980s Gremlin movie, it is not a fair portrayal of what a Gremlin actually is. True they are small mischievous creatures that delight in mayhem, but they are far more cunning and magical than Billy Peltzer could ever have imagined. The Gremlin thrives on destroying machinery that people rely on, often cars and trains, but usually planes due to the catastrophic consequence of them failing. Often they will allow one member on board to witness their destruction causing them alone to be privy to the impending disaster. Many planes during World War 2 crashed without any reason and when the wrecks were recovered signs of interference within the engines and wings were found. Of the surviving crew, they mentioned that a member on board had grown hysterical, claiming there was a creature on board that was purposefully meddling with the mechanics, trying to cause a crash. These were naturally dismissed as false claims, however it happened dozens of times, with different pilots who had no way of knowing what had happened on the other planes. Coincidence? Or Gremlin?
Like the Vampire, the Witch has been so over used in Hollywood that they have been sexed up to resemble little of their original self. A Witch is a woman that has sold her soul to the devil in exchange for black powers. They have the ability to put ancient curses on their foes, which have an unending supply of consequences-be it transformation into a frog or a rat, or simply hair loss or impedance.
They can lure men to satisfy their lust, and children to satisfy their hunger. That’s right, Witches must consume a child about once a year to retain their immortality and keep their powers strong. Witches often have special bonds with certain animals, depending on where they originate. In America they are often found with the traditional black cat, in Europe they are found with crows and in Africa they are found with hyenas, which they ride as if they were a horse.
Unlike many other monsters on this list however, Witches do have their uses in society, though one must be very careful when dealing with one. In exchange for a high price (not necessarily money) a Witch may cast a spell for you, be it a love potion, or a curse for your enemy, however such deals are not advised as black magic often works on Karma. For instance if you cast a curse on your enemy, it may come back to you three times worse, and if you do make someone fall in love with you, be warned, the love may be so strong that they may turn to homicide if it is not reciprocated to an equal measure.
I think only the Irish know how terrifying a Banshee really is, and at that, perhaps only those in the West of Ireland who can truly testify.
A female ghost who was raped in life yet did not confess, thus deemed too unclean for heaven yet too pure for hell. The role she was therefore given in the afterlife was to warn families of an impending death.
Her method of warning is to wail outside the house of the unfortunate soul. To hear the Banshee’s wail was to hear death itself and many an Irish old timer will tell you it’s sound is so loud and grotesque that it rips through your brain like an ice cube. One thing you must never, ever do however when you hear the Banshee’s scream, is investigate the sound. A glimpse at the banshee will instantly single you out the unfortunate soul at death’s door. None who have described the banshee have lived more than 24 hours later, though their description has been well documented. They claim the Banshee was a ghastly pale woman in white robes. She is usually seen sitting on the fence or wall of the garden combing her hair as she screams. One escape from the impending death sentence of the Banshee however, is the swift return of her comb. If after she has left the scene, there is a small comb made of bone on the ground, you must wait with it for a few hours and present it to her when she returns. If you do this then it is said she will look kindly on you, and pass the death sentence on to another member of your household.
A Dybbuk is the term given to a spirit or demon that possesses an unfortunate soul-think The Exorcist. Though most films that talk about exorcists claim to be dealing with the devil, this in fact is pretty rare among possessions and most Dybbuks are just evil spirits that want to cause mayhem to a human life. Whatever about a house or an object being haunted, there is nothing more terrifying than your actual body, the tool you use to interact with the world, being invaded by an evil entity. Although in the film The Exorcist, the victim was portrayed as being unaware of her condition in most cases of possession the unfortunate is deeply aware of their situation and are paralyzed as they feel their body moving uncontrollably, often causing them to do unspeakable things such as self harm, ingesting insects and attacking loved ones. The only method of cure from a Dybbuk is…wait for it, and exorcism from a trained priest but even this is not guarantied and if it fails, can anger the Dybbuk into killing their victim.
1 The Grim Reaper
Death himself, the big bad that will deliver you to your final resting place. Who else could be number one but the skinny one that quite simply, will kill you no matter what you do. With the other monsters on the list there are ways around the impending doom and some of them might even take a shine to you and spare your life. Not the Grim Reaper though, if you catch a glimpse of him your days are numbered and it’s time to say goodbye. The image of the skeleton in the robes with the scythe was created in the 15th century and is often associated with the Black Death or bubonic plague, when men in black robes would come to collect bodies and inspect people for infections. Often if you saw this pale figure in a black cloak approaching you, it pretty much meant your time was up, which is where many theorise the iconic image of death sprang from. It is unclear however if The Grim Reaper himself is responsible for his victim’s deaths, or if he is simply a messenger who is collecting you from the living world. In some cultures it is the former where there are stories of heroes bribing Death for another few years, or even tricking Death into taking another soul’s life instead of yours.