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.
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
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
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
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
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
The Dullahan is a headless horseman from the Unseelie Court of the Irish fairy realm. Although in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” the mysterious rider is implied to be only a man in disguise, the early American short story’s antagonist is modeled from legends of the Dullahan.
The Dullahan carry their grotesque, rictal heads with them, either aloft in their hands or in their saddlebags. (They in fact see through the heads’ eyes, though their sight extends vastly farther than human eyes, and through the pitch black of night). Unlike Death itself, the Dullahan rides a steaming stallion of jet black. The Dullahan maintain classic hallmarks of a Death Omen—if it bears a lantern, it is made of human skull. If it wields a crop, it is the spine of a corpse. In some parts of Ireland the Dullahan is seen in a drawn coach rather than on horseback, with a carriage of skin and wheel spokes of bone. Whatever the conveyance, it is surely a terrifying sight. Continue reading