The Metamorphosis of Monsters

Yep, going to talk about monsters again and I am sure you are sick of hearing about this topic… but I don’t care.  IT’S MONSTER-MANIA 2014!

As I have said 100 times already, the horror genre is in the early stages of a new monster era.  Obviously I could not be happier.  These cryptids are again wreaking havoc on the Earth and infesting nightmares.  They are born from space, the depths of the ocean, the core of the Earth – and they cannot be stopped.

As the horror genre goes through cycles, the subject of monsters does the same.  Monster began as vicious, vile creatures that wanted nothing more than to tear apart every living thing.  They were used as fodder for the truest tales of horror.  From the earliest start of religious theologies (e.g.; Leviathan, Preta, Jormungand) to tales told by adventures who traversed the world (e.g.; Sea Serpents, Yetis, Loch Ness, Wendigos), monsters have existed in literature since the birth of humanity.

The majority of monsters in this particular horror cycle are not much different than the monsters of antiquity.  Stories of the earliest known

(c) chelle

I’m a good little monster who helps old ladies cross the street. (c) chelle

monsters were of intellectual beasts that were decisive and agile and enjoyed the taste of humans.  They were driven by the need to succeed the Earth.  During the Victorian era to the mid 20th centuries, monsters were more muted.  These creatures, while still frightening, were passive and easily defeated by the most minor of human defense.  Those monsters were bulky and clumsy and portrayed as unintelligent with only a driving force of  (primitive) primal instincts.   Maybe it was because people during this time were conservative with the blood and guts.  The true brutality of a cunning, stealthy, intelligent being would undoubtedly cause a mass epidemic of heart attacks.

Today, monsters are on the rampage.  They stop at nothing to reach their goal, and it doesn’t matter who or what stands in their way — they will crush it (and mostly likely eat it).  This new era of monsters are ruthless and see themselves as the Alpha creatures of this planet.  Not even nuclear power can stop them.  All other weapon systems are nearly meaningless.  Humanity is nothing but bunch of fleshy munchies.

However, there is one small factor that is changing with this cycle that more or less started in the 1970s / 1980s.  Some monsters turned into creatures that actually love humans — and I don’t mean the taste of people.  I remember as a child reading about Serendipity the Pink Dragon.  She saved me from the Jabberwocky that haunted my dreams (and bedroom mirror).  Serendipity showed me that not all monsters are bad, not all monsters wanted to eat little girls.  This was a major epiphany in my young life and one I took note of as I matured.  Before the 1970s, finding a “nice” monster was a rarity.  Honestly, I cannot think of one (if I am wrong, please comment below).  There was a shift in the late part of the 20th century that allowed monsters that were good to humanity to coexist with ones that wanted to destroy us.

This shift continues today and has become quite popular in mainstream culture.  For instance, Sasquatch is now belived to be a shy cryptid that really wants to avoid people at all costs.  Older legends tend to speak otherwise, painting these creatures as violent and cold.   The same with Nessie, the giant squid, and an assortment of other creatures.  Hell, even Godzilla is now trying to protect us from the other Kaijus (though he might step on a city here or there in the process of protection).

So are monsters becoming soft, loving creatures.  Not entirely and I don’t think that they will all fully descend to that level.  Scary, nasty, vicious, human-devouring monsters are needed and will always be needed.  The evil creatures fuel fear and teaches us how to stay safe.  We don’t go looking in dark shadows because we know that the bad monsters live there… Sadly, as we get older, we realize how true that is and that those monsters are really evil humans intent on doing us harm.  Those kinds of people are real living, breathing monsters — but that is for another post.

There will always be a need for predatory monsters.  That aspect will never go away.  However, the loving monster are here to stay.  And they serve a good purpose too.  With so much darkness in the world today, where everything seems to be evil, monsters who love humanity are a little spark of light.  A little start that maybe all that we perceive to be evil is not necessarily evil…  that maybe there is some good in this world after all.

8 thoughts on “The Metamorphosis of Monsters

  1. My all-time favorite monster in books is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In almost all the movies, he’s a mute, clumsy, powerful beast, but in the original book he’s intelligent and articulate. And what he wants most is to be acknowledged by his creator, Dr. Frankenstein, who of course can’t because he’d have to acknowledge the monstrosity within himself. That whole dynamic really appeals to me, probably because I’ve read too much psychology.

    By the way, I couldn’t be happier about the return of monsters too. I’m so so tired of vampires and zombies. Now you have me wanting to write a monster story. If I’m not careful, you’re going to trap me in this genre one way or another.

    • You description of Frankenstein’s monster is exactly the same as my own. The good doctor will never be able to hear, let alone acknowledge, his creation because of his on internal monstrosities.

      I am over the vampires and zombies as well. Please write a monster story and share! I hope you get stuck in the horror web, it is a lovely place to be.

  2. There is a 2014 movie “Exists” about Big Foot. Some camping guys pissed her off, and they did pay the price.
    As you say, the monsters are coming back. But with the earth now so completely explored, I wonder where they will be said to have come from. Extraterrestrial, maybe.

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