Daphne’s Den of Darkness: 5 Uncommon Monsters that Deserve a Movie

I love monsters. Demons, vampires, werewolves, giant atom-bomb lizards, scientific monstrosities, supernatural entities… you name it, I love it (except zombies, but we won’t get into that here). I’ll gleefully watch every Hammer Horror movie and sit through a thousand Universal monster marathons.

But, given the deep wealth of urban legends and cultural mythologies from around the world, is this really the best we can do? Endless remakes of Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Mummy?

It’s time to branch out.

See below for five monsters that deserve their own block buster franchise:

1. Jorogumo

Jorogumo is a Japanese spider creature that can shapeshift into a beautiful woman. Japanese folklore is filled to the brim with fascinating monsters of all shapes and sizes and Japanese filmmakers have made films that scared the pants off us for decades (The Ring and The Grudge, anyone?). I’m imagining a tense thriller about young newlyweds, one with a dark secret… but it’s best to leave this to the professionals.

2. Cuca

The Cuca is a Brazilian mythological being taking the form of an old witch with an alligator face and hawk-like claws. She is known to steal children (especially naughty ones). Given the fantastic history of Brazilian cinema, I would love to see a tense, artsy film that brings home another Oscar for horror fans.

3. Bouda

Say it with me now: were-hyenas. That moniker really doesn’t do this African creature justice. The Bouda legend takes different forms depending on where exactly it comes from (it’s common in North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and the Near East). Regardless, humans turning into animals is rich fodder for all kinds of horror and we could all do with a break from the clichés of yet another werewolf movie.

4. Dzoavits

Dzoavits is an ogre from Native American (specifically Shoshonean) folklore. He is known for stealing and eating children. While this legend doesn’t have a wealth of stories to draw from, the premise alone is spooky enough for me to greenlight it.

5. Drop Bear

The drop bear is a larger, carnivorous cousin to the koala. Luckily, it’s not real, but is actually an Australian hoax designed to scare tourists. Australia is a nightmare country. Scientists are always discovering new and exciting ways for the wildlife to kill you. So, who’s to say this tourist-scaring cryptid isn’t waiting in the branches above. Just waiting… to drop.

That’s my top five list for new monster movies! What would you like to see?

Odds and Dead Ends : Scaring Ourselves Silly | Monsters and the Uncanny Valley

We all love a good monster. Be it Godzilla or King Kong, werewolves or cenobites, we can’t get enough of them. Guillermo Del Toro has made a living out of them, and nobody in their right mind would begrudge him that. But when we think of being scared, perhaps what touches the nerves more than anything else are not the big, lumbering beasts towering above us. It’s those fiends that come close to being human, just one step away from actually being us.

This concept is known in the field of robotics as the ‘uncanny valley’. Coined initially by Masahiro Mori, the basic idea of it is that there is a distinct, graph-able curve in people’s emotional responses to the verisimilitude of a robot to people. Essentially, when you start to make a robot look like a person, people view it more favourably. Then, suddenly, as you keep going, there’s a point where it’s not completely robotic, but not completely human, and it’s in this stage when we have a strong feeling of revulsion or disgust. When it gets close to being indistinguishable from us, it becomes so lifelike that we view it favourably again. This dip into disgust is the uncanny valley.

The theory of the uncanny itself was used by Sigmund Freud in his 1919 essay The Uncanny as a way to explain why we’re so creeped out by dolls and waxwork figures and the likes. He goes back to the original German for uncanny, unheimlich, and its roots in the word heimlich which roughly means to conceal or hide. He proposes that we find something uncanny because it is a revealing of social taboos and ideas which we try to hide in everyday life. This eventually gets linked on to concepts of the id and the subconscious, which is really the subject for another article altogether.

But what does all of this mean for our monsters? How can we link these concepts together in a way that impacts our understanding of our favourite horror villains?

Well perhaps this doesn’t apply for the big Kaiju as such, but maybe it helps explain why we’re still chilled by vampires, ghosts, and ghouls. The brain sees their general shape and recognises them as human, or at least, very human-like. Yet there’s always something just a little bit off, be it the pallor of their skin, or the sharp claws or teeth, which sets them apart and makes them disturbing to us. Going back to Del Toro, think of The Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth. He’s got a recognisably human shape (based off Saturn in the painting Saturn Devouring His Sun by Francisco Goya), but with the skin stretched over the frame, the nostrils flared with no bridge, claw-like talons, and eyes in his hands. He’s started off human but been warped.

Even cursed or possessed dolls have something off about them; the animation of a human avatar is almost the very concept of the uncanny valley, with the robot being substituted for a doll, but the basic principle remaining. Toys are essentially us, preserved in miniature, and when they rise up against us, the human part of their design strikes a chord with us.

This is perhaps why we find masked killers a distressing concept. The shape is human, and the mask is human-like, but it doesn’t change, and as humans learn to see the face as the main projector of emotion when it doesn’t alter during extreme acts of violence, we slip down the slope of the valley. Masks such as those belonging to Jason Vorhees or Michael Myers, fairly blank and devoid of emotion, would, therefore, represent something uncanny. Also very often the mask represents a demon or spirit (thinking of films such as Onibaba or Scream) which conjures up concepts of possession by an unseen force. This might explain why we’re so focused on the killer’s mask in these films, because they are themselves imbued with that uncanny quality which makes them memorable beyond the killer behind them.

Think of the Scream franchise, where the mask comes to represent something much deeper, a force of evil in itself. When you see someone without the mask, they’re normal, but as soon as the face is obscured, they become terrifying, a body for the murderous will of the mask. And the mask and the murderous intent has the power to transfer its ownership from one person to another, like a spirit darting in and out of its possessed victims. Even think of the numerous killers that take on Jigsaw’s role in the Saw films. As soon as you come into possession of Billy, leading the charge of the traps, you become Jigsaw, the embodiment of John Kramer and his will to put people to the test of their drive to survive. We dip from being too human to being something slightly removed.

The idea of the uncanny valley even feeds into ghosts. Think of Kayako and Toshio from the Ju-on films. Though it sounds funny, how many of us were deeply disturbed when Toshio, a pale little boy, opened his mouth and meowed? When Kayako came crawling down the stairs, her throat croaking like a door very slowly opening? This concept of uncanniness transfers over to the sounds we make, affecting us when someone’s voice is not what it should be. This is something obviously well known to anyone who has watched The Exorcist in their time.

And so whilst the big monsters from The Ritual and Cloverfield might scare us, they don’t get anywhere close to instilling that distinct feeling of unease which those humanoid villains which nestle in the uncanny valley have the ability to do. When vampires flash their fangs, with blood in their eyes, we see something hiding inside the human form. When we see Schwarzenegger doing his own repairs in The Terminator, we find lines between humanity and inhumanity blurred. From now on, he looks just like us, but we know he isn’t.

And when we transfer over to imitation narratives such as The Thing or The Body Snatchers, suddenly we’re even more scared, because any one of us could be them. Now the uncanny transfers into paranoia, and we have to rely on looking out for the uncanny to alert us to danger. We have to fall back on something terrifying to keep us calm. In a way, we hope for something uncanny to confirm our fears. And that, more than anything, is scary.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: KJudgeMental

Bibliography

Cloverfield. 2007. [Film] Directed by Matt Reeves. USA: Bad Robot.

Finney, J., 2010. The Body Snatchers. Great Britain: Orion Publishing.

Freud, S., McLintock, D. & Haughton, H., 2003. The Uncanny. New York: Penguin Books.

Friday the 13th. 1980. [Film] Directed by Sean S. Cunningham. Unites States of America: Georgetown Productions Inc.

Godzilla. 1954. [Film] Directed by Ishiro Honda. Japan: Toho.

Goya, F., 1819 – 1823. Saturn Devouring His Son. [Art] (Museo del Prado).

Halloween. 1978. [Film] Directed by John Carpenter. United States of America: Falcon International Productions.

John Carpenter’s The Thing. 1982. [Film] Directed by John Carpenter. United States of America: Universal Studios.

Ju-On: The Grudge. 2002. [Film] Directed by Takashi Shimizu. Japan: Pioneer LDC.

King Kong. 1933. [Film] Directed by Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack. USA: RKO Pictures Inc..

Onibaba. 1964. [Film] Directed by Kaneto Shindo. Japan: Kindai Eiga Kyokai.

Pan’s Labyrinth. 2006. [Film] Directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Spain: Telecinco Cinema.

Saw. 2004. [Film] Directed by James Wan. USA: Twisted Pictures.

Scream. 1996. [Film] Directed by Wes Craven. United States: Dimension Films.

The Exorcist. 1973. [Film] Directed by William Friedkin. USA: Hoya Productions.

The Ritual. 2017. [Film] Directed by David Bruckner. UK: The Imaginarium.

The Terminator. 1984. [Film] Directed by James Cameron. United States of America: Hemdale.

 

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: The Head Hunter

Plotline: A medieval warrior’s gruesome collection of heads is missing only one – the monster that killed his daughter years ago.

Who would like it: Fans of sword and sorcery, folklore, vengeance. monsters, mythology and movies about men setting off on quests.   

High Points: The fight scenes. For all of them except the last one is shot in a way that invokes your imagination and unlike Conan the Barbarian or any other Knight in Shinning Armor that goes off to fight all the horrors after each battle he returns injured, making the next battle all the more perilous. 

Complaints: Some of the personal choices he is making, giving the things that he is doing monster hunting, doesn’t make sense and could have prevented his ultimate peril. Another complaint I have is about the potions and elixirs, there is a scene in the movie where he seems surprised about what one of his own concoctions is capable of and with as much time he spends creating them and what he is using them for it just seems unlikely that he wouldn’t know what it would do.    

Overall: I liked it and I think you will too

Stars: 3 1/2 Stars

Where I watched it: VOD

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyer miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Press Release: The Sequels

Fanbase Press is thrilled to announce that the upcoming trade paperback of its four-issue series, The Sequels, will feature a foreword written by Andre Gower (The Monster Squad, Wolfman’s Got Nards – A Documentary).  The team is also revealing the brand new trade paperback cover, featuring the combined artwork of series cover artist Don Aguillo and interior artists/colorists Val Halvorson and Bobby Timony!

The Sequels is a creator-owned series that – in the height of ‘80s nostalgia – dares to question whether our grasp on the past is endangering our future.  It is written by Norm Harper (Eisner Award-nominated Rikki, The Naughty List) illustrated and colored by Val Halvorson and Harvey Award-nominated Bobby Timony (The Night Owls, The Simpsons), flatted by Deanna Poppe, lettered by Oceano Ransford (A Geek’s Guide to Cross-Stitch, Eisner Award-nominated Rikki), and features cover art by Don Aguillo (Rise, Winter, Isugid Pinoy!).

“We’re extremely honored to have Andre’s contribution to the collected trade paperback,” says Fanbase Press President Bryant Dillon.  “Given the thoughtful examination of nostalgia in The Sequels, Andre’s unique perspective and incredible impact to our collective nostalgia for the ‘80s make his contribution truly special.”

Series Synopsis:

Remember the ‘80s? Avery, Gwen, Russell, and Dakota will never forget.  As children, they each experienced unique adventures . . . saving the life of a sentient robot, partying with an intergalactic alien, battling the likes of vampires and werewolves, and defeating a nightmarish monster to protect imagination itself.  Now, 30 years later, they’re directionless adults, still obsessed with their pasts. When a mysterious figure brings the group together to cope with their experiences, will they be prepared to live out the “sequels” to their childhood adventures?

Issues #1-4 of the comic book series are being released digitally through ComiXology, and the series’ collected trade paperback will be released on July 22, 2019The Sequels trade paperback is currently available for pre-order at www.TheSequelsComic.com and through the Fanbase Press website (www.fanbasepress.com).  Pre-orders made by May 1, 2019, will receive an exclusive set of prints (representing each of the four covers) illustrated by Don Aguillo and signed by the entire creative team.

Founded in 2010, Fanbase Press celebrates fandoms and creates new ones! As a comic book publisher and geek culture website, Fanbase Press produces new and distinctive works, as well as daily reviews, interviews, and podcasts, that span the pop culture spectrum and give voice to the themes, ideals, and people that make geekdom so exceptional.

Fanbase Press’ previous titles – including the 2018 Eisner Award-nominated Quince, the 2019 IPPY Award-winning A Geek’s Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space, the 2014 Bram Stoker Award-nominated Fearworms: Selected Poems, The Margins, Hero Hotel, The Gamma Gals, Something Animal, Identity Thief, The Arcs, and Penguins vs. Possums – are available online at www.fanbasepress.com and on Amazon, as well as digitally through ComiXology.

As a special note, Andre Gower’s latest project, Wolfman’s Got Nards – A Documentary, explores the relationship a dedicated audience (including celebrities and filmmakers) has with The Monster Squad. This documentary takes an in-depth look into the film’s conception, response, cult status, and revival. Through interviews with the cast, crew, screenwriters, directors, academics, and original reviewers, as well as through never-before-seen footage, it turns the lens on an audience of self-proclaimed misfits who have kept The Monster Squad alive for more than thirty years.  More information may be found at www.thesquaddoc.com and on Facebook and Twitter (@thesquaddoc).

Book Review: Monsters of Any Kind , edited by Alessandro Manzetti and Daniele Bonfanti

We see plenty of serial killers and psychopaths here at HorrorAddicts.net. Some call them monsters. Yet, evil though they are, they are still only human. What of the truly monstrous? the grotesque? the abominable? the creatures that defy not only nature but Heaven and Hell as well?

Monsters of Any Kind—published by Independent Legions Publishing and edited by Alessandro Manzetti and Daniele Bonfanti—brings you tales of creatures that slither and writhe and go bump in the night. Whether they’re good, evil, or… otherwise, they’re sure to terrify. Prepare yourself for stories of real monsters.

Monsters of Any Kind presents a diverse collection of stories, each prominently featuring a monster, some from folklore and some the product of pure imagination (terrifying as that must be for the author). Each story takes a different variation on the theme, bringing surprises and delights with each turn of the page.

Perpetual Antimony by Cody Goodfellow – Goodfellow introduces a fascinating concept that explores the limits of human potential and what may drive a person to forsake humanity altogether.

The Thing Too Hideous to Describe by David J. Schow – This tale of a monster and the researcher who wants to study him takes a humorous approach to the theme. Still, this is a horror anthology and the ending is… well, you’ll see.

Silt and Bone by Jess Landry – Jess Landry (a contestant from the HorrorAddicts.net Next Great Horror Writer Contest) is a master of imagery and creates one of the most vivid descriptions in a stand out book. The story is atmospheric and chilling. The horror of natural disaster, personal repercussions, and things beyond this world combine to make this a gripping experience.

Sucklings by Lucy Taylor – This story of grisly small-town murders and a monster that wears many faces explores whether you can truly trust your loved ones.

We All Make Sacrifices by Jonathan Maberry – Maberry’s noir-style werewolf story is my favorite of the anthology and I can only hope that we will see more of this as a novel or serial.

Brodkin’s Demesne by Michael Gray Baughan – In this story, a couple moves to an isolated country home, where the ever-present drone of cicadas belies something more sinister. Baughan creates a slow build of terror and his violent imagery stuck with me long after reading.

Sealed with a Kiss by Owl Goingback – A man’s car breaks down as the world literally goes to hell around him. Sealed with a Kiss is clever and well written with a tongue in cheek take on horror.

The Other Side of Semicolons by Michael Bailey – A girl explores the twisted dimensions on the other side of a mysterious symbol in her room. Bailey writes a tale of psychological terror that explores what could be. The visions draw you in and create a sense of dread that isn’t easy to shake.

Bad Hair Day by Greg Sisco – What would you do for vanity? Bad Hair Day is an exquisite work of horror edged with science fiction that I would not be surprised to see listed as a classic of the genre.

Midnight Hobo by Ramsey Campbell – A lurking form haunts Roy at home and at work, slowly driving him mad. Campbell has a talent for grounding his horror in the mundane and leaving just the right amount of description to the reader’s imagination.

Noverim Te by Santiago Eximeno – Tourists gather in a small town where a god goes to sleep every year. Eximeno blends ancient superstition with modern behavior in this exquisite concept.

The Dive by Mark Alan Miller – One night, Al finally gets everything he wants, but he’ll be lucky to escape with his life. A fusion of humor, horror, and adventure, The Dive is an excellent piece of fiction that will leave you feeling a little more grateful for what you have.

Mammy and the Flies by Bruce Boston – What happens when neglect and abuse turn someone strange into something horrifying? The small scale and sheer intensity of Mammy and the Flies made this story delightful. Boston’s emotional writing blew me away.

Old Sly by Gregory L. Norris – Norris’ story has a foreboding atmosphere reminiscent of The Haunting of Hill House, with a twist that will make you question whether you really want to inherit a fortune from a distant relative.

The Last Wintergirl by Damien Angelica Walters – Mythical Wintergirls fall prey to the boys of the village while they slumber. The boys think nothing of the terrible retribution they’ll face… but they should. The Last Wintergirl is a chilling tale of human evil and monstrous revenge. Walters creates an intricate mythology that would make a great novel.

The City of Sixes by Edward Lee – By far the most graphically grotesque of the collection, Lee’s story of literal Hell is somehow more horrific than you can possibly imagine.

Crisis of Faith by Monica J. O’Rourke – A spiritual seeker finally finds what he’s looking for; a real-life demon. O’Rourke’s description of torture and the psychological effects is incredible.

Cracker Creek by Erinn L. Kemper – A town scandal becomes something more sinister when newly born babies aren’t what they seem. Kemper creates a gripping story, well written and perfectly paced.

Presented along with the text are incredible illustrations by Stefano Cardoselli. The art never gives away the story, but adds to it, especially once you know all the twists and turns.

Whether you enjoy gruesome violence, psychological terror, existential dread, or the humorous side of horror, you’ll find a story to suit your taste among the offerings in Monsters of Any Kind.

Magazine Review: Encyclopedia of Horror

Want a nice, high-quality magazine, full-gloss with no advertisements? Then the Encyclopedia of Horror is for you.

The art is beautiful and the style is just what any horror addict would want to see with shots of their favorite actors, bloody handprints, and blood seeping from the corners.

There is tons of stuff to love in this magazine, but a few of my favorites are:

“Long in the Tooth: A brief history of Dracula and a host of other vampires.” This article does talk about Dracula but then explores how the myth came about. It touches on Byron, Polidori, and Sheridan LeFanu, the author of Carmilla. They also mention The Blood Countess, Elizabeth Bathory, and cover all the vampire film adaptations from Dracula and Dark Shadows to Twilight and True Blood. With ten full-color pages of my favorite monster, it was hard not to love it out of the gate.

There are also in-depth articles on Frankenstein’s monster, The Exorcist, and great authors who bring our monsters to life. Like any self-respecting horror expose they have a top-10 Scream Queen list as well as a top 13 list of terror movies. One of the most interesting articles with something I haven’t seen before in print was about new horror creators highlighting Blumhouse, Jordan Peele, and the new IT.

Covering everything from aliens and psycho killers to vampires, werewolves, and zombies, this is a magazine you have to own. In fact, the only area of horror I saw missing was music. Perhaps they can add that in next time. The “Timeline of Terror” was especially visually stimulating, putting all of our movies in perspective from the 1920s to today.

Now, where can you get this awesome magazine full of our favorite subject? Well, you can’t order it online, but it is supposed to be in stores until December 31st, so run out and get one while they still last. If you aren’t near a store that stocks it, I’ve seen a few on eBay, but you got to act fast.

This was an exciting experience to review the Encyclopedia of Horror and I look forward to seeing what this creative team does in the future.

Book Review: The Dark is Full of Monsters by Edward P. Cardillo

Review – The Dark is Full of Monsters by Edward P. Cardillo

By Chantal Boudreau

I love horror with monsters, supernatural…mutant…human monsters–it doesn’t matter–so I dove into this book really hoping I would enjoy it.  The premise did intrigue me–a ragtag group of inhabitants from a sleepy little town venture into the woods seeking a local urban legend cryptoid monster after a series of strange occurrences including a close encounter with the monster and the kidnapping of a neighborhood boy.  It had the makings of a good story.

Unfortunately, while it had a lot to offer, it didn’t quite hit the mark with me, but it might work for other readers out there.  I found character intro and development a little thin and that’s the most important aspect for me in a book.  The writing style was at times repetitive (for example far too many of the paragraphs began with a character name or pronoun–I was yearning for a few transitional words) and lacking in focus.

It did have its strong points too, though.  The monster was sufficiently novel and gruesome, offering up some chills.  The dialogue was entertaining and quite funny in places (I had to laugh at things like the word “citiots”).  I also think it had a good feel for its setting.  I suspect the author based it on somewhere familiar and captured that concretely in the story.  It reminded me a little of the place where I grew up.  If these are things that appeal to you as a reader, this book might just be for you.

While I think the book had an interesting concept and some good scares, it fell a tad short, so this one rated a three out of five for me.