It’s Halloween month and in the next couple of posts we’re going to be examining anything horror related. Today we’re counting down my top five famous literacy monsters, examining their origins and impact on the modern world.
5) The Headless Horseman
I feel as though the Headless Horseman is often forgotten by the general public in favour of more well-known creatures. The monster originates from Irving Washington’s novel The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in which (in true Scooby Doo fashion) the ghost is revealed to be a man in costume scaring the locals. The idea of headless horsemen is not unique to the novel. Headless Horsemen have been sighted across the world and have different meanings and characteristics in various cultures. For example, in India the Headless Horseman is seen as a hero who died defending the innocent and continues to defend them after his death. In German folk law the horseman is seen as a demon who is accompanied with fire breathing hounds.
4) Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
I’m going to award Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde fourth place on my list. The very term Jekyll and Hyde has come to mean someone who has split personalities. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde penned Robert Louis Stevenson was first published in 1886 and shocked Victorian readers. It tells the story of Henry Jekyll ‘s transformation into the monster that is Edward Hyde and Dr Jekyll’s friends investigation into the affair. Jekyll and Hyde has been adapted into films, countless stage plays and audio dramas but similar to the Headless horseman I feel as though this monster has faded into the background of late.
3) The Werewolf
Werewolves are timeless creatures, stories of their attacks date back to Ancient Rome. The details of their existence vary but generally one becomes a Werewolf by either being cursed or by being bitten by a Werewolf. Werewolves normally transform into the giant wolves under a full moon but their affliction could take place every night according to some sources. The best method to kill a Werewolf is with a silver bullet but the beasts are not indestructible. They can be killed via stabbing or gunshot but they are more resilient than humans. The best way to kill a Werewolf is while they are in human form. The main reason Werewolves are not ranked higher on my list is that there isn’t one famous Werewolf people can name.
One of the most iconic horror monsters, if not the iconic horror monster is Dracula. I’ve spoken about Dracula before in Part Two Five More Fictional Characters and their real life inspiration post (linked at the bottom of this page) but contrary to popular believe Dracula was not the first vampire.
The “vampire” idea far outdates Dracula which was the first published in 1897. In South America the legendry beast known as the Chupacabra is said to be a vampire as it leaves the bodies of livestock, bloodless. In Chinese culture Vampires can not pass a bag of rice without counting every grain. In America a Vampire can not enter another person’s property without being given permission. The traditional European Vampire is said to be nocturnal and spend the day sleeping in coffins and the night hunting for human victims. In the modern world vampires are said to walk among us, they have been sexualised and can often be found in nightclub luring victims back to their den to drink their blood.
Depending on where you hear the story a vampire can fly, pass through solid objects, hypnotise their prey, control animals, super strength, speed, hearing and sight, stick to and climb walls and transform into animals, most often bats. As a side note the innocent bat has had it’s reputation damaged due to it’s link with vampires. Out of the one thousand two hundred bat species only three suck blood and none of those bats have human prey.
1) Frankenstein’s Monster
Frankenstein is not the monster. Frankenstein is the name of the creator, the monster does not have a name which is very important in the fact that he is considered a monster.
Like Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster is often considered to be the first official zombie. This is another common misconception. The idea of reanimating corpses can be found in the practice of Voodoo. It’s arguable if Frankenstein’s Monster is a zombie as he was made by sewing human body parts together and being struck by lighting where as traditional zombies is the victim of a plague.
The infection of being a zombie is spread by one zombie biting a human, thus infecting them. I think that Zombies are currently one of the most popular monsters due to their featuring in TV shows like the Walking Dead. The idea of a Zombie apocalypse and how to prepare for one has become very popular in recent years. Zombies can range from those slumbering around with their arms out stretched shouting for brains or those who have read Paradise Lost like Frankenstein’s Monster.
The origins of the book Frankenstein are also interesting. The author, Mary Shelly, was travelling around Europe with her future husband Percy Shelly, the infamous Lord Byron and John Polidori. During a thunderstorm they agreed to having a novel writing competition to see who could write the best horror novel. Shelly overheard Lord Byron and Percy Shelly talking about electricity and that night during a storm Mary has a dream of a dead body being brought back to life by a lighting strike. The next day she started work on the novel that would one day be Frankenstein.
Do you agree in my ranking of these monsters? Do you think I’ve left a monster out? Let me know in the comments down below and I’ll see you next time. You can read Five More Fictional Characters and their real Life Inspirations from the link here:
Zombies don’t want brains, they just want a good education.