My Favorite Monsters
When the leaves start changing and the temperatures drop to a pleasant coolness; when the stores start displaying fall (and Christmas!) merchandise and numerous TV stations begin playing marathons of spine chillers, it’s then that I like to contemplate my favorite supernatural beings. There are so many monsters of myth, legend, and modern day media, that it’s easy to find one suited to frighten each individual taste. What all these spooky superstars have in common, though, is that we admire them for their ability to scare us, to make us want to sleep with the lights on, to cover our faces when they do their horrible deeds on camera.
Numerous books have been written about localized monsters and regional legends, such as the Ohio Grassman and the Jersey Devil, but none of the creatures have achieved the fame, and the notoriety, of a few types of general supernatural monsters. It’s these I want to focus on as I share my favorite few:
Vampires. I used to watch old vampire movies on Saturday afternoon when I was a kid, and ended up scaring myself quite a bit. It didn’t matter that many of the earlier movies were in black and white, because it was not the blood itself that was scary, but the suspense that came with knowing the hero was being stalked by a killer that could enthrall and kill in equal measure.
Of course, vampires are more popular than ever, thanks to modern books and movie sensations such as the Twilight series, as well as Blade and Underworld. While these supernatural creatures are portrayed in vastly different way by the different series, they all share an appreciation for these undead, immortal beings who exhibit some of the darkest and basest urges of humanity. The vampire is a being that is seductive to the extreme, and yet it is a slave to its own urges, its desperate need for that which keeps us alive.
Mummies. The mummy is a fictional monster unwittingly created by long-past civilizations in an attempt to find meaning in life and death. The most famous are the Egyptian mummies, which Hollywood has exploited numerous times to bring horror, coupled with romance onto the big screen. Mummies are creepy in a whole different way than vampires. They’re generally slower than vampires, and rarely speak, but the idea of a creature come back to life after decaying in a tomb for thousands of years, perhaps seeking a companion to return to the darkness, is terrifying in its own right.
I’ve always been partial to mummies as a horror character, and one of my all-time favorite movies is The Mummy (1999) starring Brendan Frasier and Rachel Weisz. This particular movie mummy scared me tremendously the first time I saw it, but in watching the movie repeatedly I became inured to the “fright” aspect of the movie and was able to enjoy the plot, the humor, and the romantic elements this particular version contained. In fact wrote a post back in April of this year entitled “Everything I Need to Know about Life I Learned from Watching The Mummy.” Anyone interested can check out the link to that post here:
Zombies. The once-mindless creatures of science and nature gone insane in “B” movies have come into their own with TV shows such as The Walking Dead and movies such as World War Z. Zombies are in some ways are creepy than other monsters because anyone can become one, and unlike other types of scary monsters, they tend to overrun entire populations. The concept of a mutant virus, either natural or manmade, that can turn anyone and everyone it infects into a mindless drone with only one instinctive urge, to eat human flesh, is in many ways the most horrifying fictional monster around.
I personally would rather become just about any other type of monster than a zombie, and I think it’s the one I would least like to encounter. There’s nothing romantic or thrilling about being, or being pursued by a zombie, because they of all monsters lack the most in human traits. They are simply reduced to one instinctive drive, and heaven help anyone in their way. While they may retain in many ways the basic shape of humans, they are really a lower form of life. Without the ability to think or reason they are more like a virus themselves than human.
What is your favorite monster? There are so many others out there, and with Halloween right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to get reacquainted with old favorites and discover new ones. If you’d like to share, send me your comments to the link on this page or my twitter account at the bottom.