Monster of the Week: Frankenstein

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frankenstein-boriskarloff

Boris Karloff as the Creature, 1934

Two hundred years ago, on the shores of Lake Geneva during a dark and dismal summer, the eighteen-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin created one of the most enduring monsters of contemporary history. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was published anonymously as an epistolary three-volume novel two years later. The second edition was published in France five years after that in 1823, bearing for the first time the English author’s married name: Mary Shelley. Since then, the novel has become one of the most widely taught literary texts in the English language, and the creature commonly known as Frankenstein remains one of the most recognizable and popular monsters of the horror genre and beyond.

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Monster of the Week: Bunnies

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twilightzoneRabbitIf you think that bunnies can’t be monsters, you haven’t been paying close enough attention. Below are some film and TV sources of a few of the scariest hares we’ve heard of.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: If a centuries-old vengeance demon like Anya (Emma Caulfield) is deathly afraid of rabbits, perhaps there’s something to learn there. Anya wears a bunny costume for Halloween in Season 4 because she’s told that the idea is to dress as “something scary.” Buffy lore has retconned Anya’s leporiphobia into having some relation to the fact that she seems to have bred and raised rabbits back in the Middle Ages when she was human (see S07E05, “Selfless”), but we don’t think she needs a reason. Continue reading

Monster of the Week: The Wild Hunt

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Franz Von Stuck The Wild Chase

The Wild Chase (1889) by Franz Von Stuck

Tales of the spectral horde known as the Wild Hunt abound throughout Europe. Since pre-Christian times, the Wild Huntsman and his horde of hunters and hellhounds have hurtled through the night sky. Those who find themselves alone on a winter night may hear the sounds of a horn, the distant wail of the hounds, and the pounding of hooves as the Wild Huntsman and his supernatural companions approach. Continue reading

Monster of the Week: The Woman in White

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White Lady Teresa Fidalgo

White Lady: The ghost of Teresa Fidalgo in the Portugese short film A Curva (2004)

The Woman in White is a ghostly apparition who most commonly haunts roadways and thoroughfares, seeking the attention of travelers. She is a tortured spirit who has often in life been betrayed by a lover, has lost her children, or both.

Dames Blanche in France, White Ladies in the Philippines, Mulheres de Branco in Brazil, Weisse Frauen in Germany, and Witte Wieven in the Netherlands are all varieties of Women in White, as is Mexico’s La Llorona (the Weeping Woman). Continue reading

Monster of the Week: The Banshee

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“La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” Henry Meynell Rheam, 1901

“La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” Henry Meynell Rheam, 1901

The Banshee is an ominous spirit of the Irish fairy realms whose presence foretells the loss of a life. This “woman fairy” (from bean, a woman, and sidhe, a fairy), announces an imminent death with her mournful and terrifying keening. When she can be seen and not just heard, the Banshee usually appears as a beautiful woman, often clutching a hairbrush. In Scotland she is bean nighe (the Washerwoman, whose spectral form can be seen washing the bloody clothes of the soon-to-die), while in Wales she is Gwrach-y-rhibyn (Hag of the Mist).

The Banshee is sometimes seen along with a cóiste-bodhar (coach-a-bower), pulled by headless horses and driven by her fellow Celtic death omen, the Dullahan. Although like the Dullahan (and the Cluricaun), the Banshee is usually classified in lore as a solitary fairy, it has been suggested that she may in fact be a sociable fairy who has only become solitary due to her constant sadness—unlike most solitary fairies, she is generally not malevolent, but only foreboding and frightening. Continue reading

Monster of the Week: Hellhounds

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GytrashHellhounds are great infernal dogs that hunt the damned, guard the underworld and defend their demonic masters. There are tales of hellhounds in ancient Greek and Viking writings, and legends and even stories of sightings can now be found throughout the world. Hellhounds are often described as oversized black dogs with sharp teeth and glowing red eyes. Hellhounds transcend supernatural categories, alternately considered apparitions (the Black Dogs of Britain), creatures of Faerie (the hellhounds of the Wild Hunt) or demons (the Cajedo Negro of South America). Continue reading

Monster of the Week: Night Marchers

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Taken near Punchbowl, 2013, by jai Mansson on Flickr. (CC2.0)

Taken near Nuuanu–Punchbowl, Honolulu, 2013, by jai Mansson on Flickr, CC2.0

Night Marchers (huaka’i pō) are spirits of ancient Hawaiian warriors. Though there are those who describe experiences with huaka’i pō, they are infrequently witnessed from close proximity because most who come into contact with them are cursed. Most experiences with Night Marchers involve hearing drums or chants in the distance or seeing their torches far off across a valley, because those familiar with their mana will seek refuge if huaka’i pō are near.

They proceed from the mountain down to the ocean, following ancient paths that take the marchers from their burial sites to previous battlegrounds and other sacred places. Night Marchers may carry the archaic weaponry and wear the regalia of their corporeal time. Huaka’i pō may have the ability to affect their physical environment, because though they are known to float a few inches above the ground, they sometimes leave behind footprints. Continue reading