Thursday, June 20, 2013
Ten Classic Tales on the Origins of Your Favorite Monsters
By OFW editor:
Published: September 24, 2013
Monsters are an integral part of horror. Before writers explored the depths of how truly terrifying people can be, monsters ruled the page. While today’s reader is mostly jaded toward the classic monster, if done right, they can still inspire fear. To write a good monster story, though, I think it’s important to know where they came from. That’s where I come in.
No, it wasn’t from that
. The term actually comes from the Creole word “zonbi” which is applied to a person who has been put under the power of a voodoo priest. The term “zombie” came about when Hollywood made the 1932 movie “White Zombie” starring Bela Lugosi. This movie was the first to introduce the idea that a zombie was someone who was killed, then brought back to life.
Werewolves, or Lycanthrops (that “Lycan” thing from the Underworld movies makes total sense now) as they are called in myth, are people who can change their form either by choice or by curse into that of a wolf. The first written account of this dates all the way back to the likes of Ovid and Virgil telling stories of men who would shed their skins. It wasn’t until after “The Wolf Man” movie of 1941 that it was decided that werewolves change only at the full moon.
Twitards, pay close attention. The original look of vampires was that of a bloated corpse, purple and bulging. The modern day vampire is the brainchild of author Bram Stoker who wrote
in 1897 which provided us the picture of a pale, blood-sucking, bat-like monster. Later, author Anne Rice expounded on the vampire in a series of probably the greatest vampire novels of all time. Her vampires were vicious, blood-sucking, and sexy. Oh, so very sexy.
He lives under your bed or in your closet. He lurks just outside your window at night, waiting for the day that you cause mommy and daddy too many problems. Or so our parents told us. It is believed that the story of the Boogeyman began as an allegory for the devil which parents used to keep their children from thinking “devilish” thoughts at night. They were told that if their thoughts were impure, then the Boogeyman would eat them. Forgive me, but telling a child, at bedtime, that some faceless thing is going to eat them is counterproductive. Ever had to deal with a scared child at bedtime? Didn’t think so.
The roots of the “mummy’s curse” began in 1923 at the excavation of King Tut’s tomb by Howard Carter. Aside from the strange goings on at the dig itself, two weeks after the excavation, Carter’s financier died. The superstitious blamed the disturbance of the dead and the “curse” was born. The mummy as a monster began in the 20
century with another book by Bram Stoker called
The Jewel of Seven Stars.
Though he has been known to have many faces through the ages, the most common association with the devil is the Christian personification with his red skin, horns and a tail. In the Christianity myth, the devil is thought to have once been an angel who defied God and was therefore cast out of heaven. Many a great revenge story has been written with the Devil as a star.
Beliefs in witchcraft, and resulting witch-hunts, existed in many cultures worldwide and still exist in some today. Historically, these beliefs were notable in Early Modern Europe of the 14th to 18th century, where witchcraft came to be seen as a vast diabolical conspiracy against Christianity and accusations of witchcraft led to large-scale witch-hunts and subsequent burnings. While the exact beginnings of the existence of witches is unknown, it is almost certain that their origins stem from pagan religions, specifically Wiccan, in which “spells” and such are performed with the assistance of “natural magic.”
These Middle Eastern monsters live in graveyards. A mummy-like creature, they are half-decaying bodies that eat children, drink blood and take coins from graves. They are also known to eat the fresh corpse of the dead in order to take the body’s form and torment the family of the deceased.
They first appeared as an object of fictional horror in 1786 when author William Beckford wrote about these desert monsters in his Gothic book,
In the early 17th century, author Mary Shelley penned the book
. Saying the idea came from a dream, she envisioned a wild doctor, Victor von Frankenstein, who was chasing the secret to life by building the ugly giant. This monster Dr. von Frankenstein assembled was stitched together human body parts. After he is given life, the monster requests a mate from the doctor. When he is refused, all hell breaks loose.
The common misconception is the “Frankenstein” refers to the monster. It is also thought that Frankenstein’s monster is lumbering, slow, and an idiot. But in the novel, the monster is quite intelligent and agile.
I hear you snickering. Laugh all you want, but there was a time when this giant lizard was frightening.
"Gojira" (a combination of the Japanese words for "Gorilla" and "Whale") was created by film-maker Ishiro Honda as an animal that crushed buildings, fought-off evil and saved children.
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