Non-mainstream, scary-as-shit Monsters of Literature

Ah, today is that epic Thanksgiving holiday of gluttony in the US where Americans do nothing more than shovel food into their mouths all day (or so that is what the holiday has turned into).

I am away spending the day with the family, but don’t want to leave you all short handed, so hyperlinking to an interesting post by JW McCormack of Electric Lit (electricliterature.com).

The posts lists his top 31 Obscure Literary Monsters.  Honestly, I don’t think I could have come up with a better list.  Job well done, JW!

31 Fairly Obscure Literary Monsters 

 

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.

The Uprise of Monsters

Monster stories are tales as old as time.  They appear in countless works ranging from fiction to non-fiction to religious.  The number of monster movies is near infinite.  These creatures are the ones that go “bump” in the night.  And guess what?  They are evolving…

In other posts, I have noted that the horror genre has a cycle.  What goes around will come around again in the future.  The slasher movies and stories of the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s are snuffed out.  The ride of the Zombie-Vampire-Werewolf craze is on a downhill trend since its rebirth in the early 2000’s.  Ghosts and demons are about to hit a mid-life crisis before fading back into the Earth.  However, a new egg was laid about 5 years ago and the shell is starting to shatter.  Monsters are about to take over the horror genre scene.

Back in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, monsters were mainstream where much credit can be given to Godzilla and the other kaijus.  Dinosaurs were again roaming the Earth, King Kong was kicking it in Manhattan, and gargantuan aquatic creatures were wreaking havoc on all seafaring folk.  Audiences during this era craved cryptids!  Hollywood and the Toho company churned out monster movies as if these creatures were raining down on the world from the heavens.

What was the drive for these creatures?  Well, we can thank the influential H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) for setting the stage.  It is the epitome of cosmic horror that captivates an audience, and monsters exude cosmicism.  Monsters provide the factual terror that humanity has absolutely no power on the vastness of the cosmos.  We cannot command or contain the Universe.  We potentially have the power to destroy monsters, but lack the control over the creatures’ initial existence on Earth.  Humanity is at the mercy of the cosmos and whatever terrifying creatures it decides to hurl at our little terrestrial planet.

Monsters show the reality of humanity’s insignificance in comparison to the entirety of the cosmos.  – Me

Becoming aware of the human race’s meagerness in the grand scheme of it all is absolute horror.  If tomorrow dinosaurs should reappear and take control of the planet, humanity would be a micro-blip in the Earth’s history.  That is how, through literature, Lovecraft was able to terrify his readers.  His human characters regret gaining knowledge about the existence of monsters, because the characters learn “there is something bigger than I and I can’t control it”.  This  inevitably leads the characters to destroy themselves physically or emotionally because they cannot handle that kind of awakening.

Humanity, you are no match for Dino-Thunder! (c) Carl Jones  by-nc 2.0

Humanity, you are no match for Dino-Thunder! (c) Carl Jones by-nc 2.0

Back on the subject of monsters and the horror genre cycle, the heyday of these creatures was in the mid 20th century.  There was a shift in the 70’s and 80’s that caused the monster craze to die off.  The shift was the Devil, which is probably the one thing more terrifying than any monster in this universe. Movies like Evil Dead, The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen were the horror kings of the 70’s.  Briefly, “modified humans” (Zombies-Vampires-Werewolves) grew rapidly during those later years and into the early 80’s, but ultimately failed to the slasher flicks of the 80’s and 90’s.  Demons and modified humans had a resurgence in the early 2000’s, but that craze is winding down and the cycle of the monsters is about to begin again.  Godzilla destroyed the movie scene this past summer.  Cthulhu and the other Elder Gods are oozing through literature and the Internet, while dinosaurs are just waiting to hatch.

Here’s hoping that this monster mania lasts a few decades, as it may bode well for the series that I am about to produce.  I can’t give a lot away, but I will let you in on a secret:  There is a vile monster that will stop at nothing to eat every human being on the face of this planet.

If you are keen on my love of monsters, check out this post: Here Be Monsters.

Here Be Monsters

Monsters.  They slink among the trees, hide in the shadows, lurk in caves, and glide underwater while watching, waiting, stalking their prey.  They are born from Gods or from cursed mothers or from the fires that burn within ourselves.  Mythology has it portrayed that these creatures of the weird have a primary goal to overtake humanity.

Monsters have physically haunted this terrestrial plane for many millenniums since the days that lore and legend grew from the first human form of communication.   For it is only through fear that early man understood the nature of danger, and monsters were the depicted as the harbingers of danger.  They were the catalyst to persuade on how to live a good and safe life.  As the tales would go, if one man found himself going against the warnings, then that man might just find themselves dead at the claws of something strange.

In modern day, this trend still continues.  The moral of any good monster story is “Don’t go looking for danger, for if you do, danger will be sure to find you.”  Danger is predatory.  It does not pick and choose its victims.  Whatever person is so unwittingly blind to go against the rules, they will fall prey to that danger.

However, it begs the question to ask who, in this scenario, is the real danger?  Is it the external force, the monster, which would inflict the physical harm?  Or is the person who is out there seeking and beckoning the danger?

In all of the legends and modern tales, it is the monster that kills the human, but no one ever asks the question: Why?  Why would a beast exert such energy to kill a human that it will not eat?  Such actions would lead one to think it is more of a matter of defense.

There are tales in Native American mythology that talks of great horned serpents and fish-monsters that drown humans that forge onto these beasts’ territory.  The lore paints these monsters in a bad light to teach the listener to not swim in the deep water, for if you do, a great horned beast will drown you.  But let us stop for a moment and see the world through the beast’s eyes.  How does humanity look to the “monsters”?  Humans, a strange bi-pedal creature, feel they have the right to encroach on the territory of other animals.  They mercilessly kill and eat other flesh without regard to the soul that they just snuffed out.  They think they own the land.

Maybe it is these actions, this disregard for the balance of nature, which “monsters” fear and are killing humans in pure defense — not out of joy.  These “monsters” that we think are being of the weird are merely living in the same instance as us, and their territories and power should be respected.

However, that being said, out there in the night there are truly evil monsters that roam. Dybbuk, Preta, Wendigo, and the Aswang are just a few creatures with a more ominous nature.  They are not the typical creature-monster like Sasquatch, Nessie, or Godzilla.  These monsters are actually beings which are possessed by an evil spirit.  These creatures truly have an ulterior, sinister motive and their ultimate goal is to feed off the flesh of humans.  Their true power comes from consuming humanity.

With this type monsters, the ones that are actually evil spirits, that is where the true terror lies.  It is not in the benevolent lake creature that may drown a human here or there in an attempt to protect its habitat. No, the most terrifying monster is the one who has been infected by true evil and is looking for human blood.

 

Godzilla was just looking for someone to love him!  He was just too big for Tokyo  (c) photo by 123

Godzilla was just cranky because someone woke him up from his underwater nap.
(c) photo by 123