I wanted to do something different for Thanksgiving week. I thought I would list my five favorite monsters from all of media. This is a tough one for me. I have so many. I’ll probably end up doing this list again in the next few years because it is fun. These aren’t in order from worst to best, they’re just part of a general category of awesomeness. They have all inspired my abominations in some way or another. I wrote smaller paragraphs, but really each monster could be an entire blog post.
- Xenomorph: This one shouldn’t be a surprise. I love Alien and Aliens. The sequels and the expansion of the universe are just okay for me. I think the original Alien design by HR Giger are fantastic. They epitomize what a slimy, space creature would look like in reality. Xenomorphs are designed to survive the vacuum by being vicious and mysterious, like they were almost an extension of it. They’re formidable physically, organic looking, and animalistic. Not only can they not be reasoned with in any human fashion, but they act on instinct and predatory behavior. As the android eluded to in Alien; they’re pure in their actions and unfettered by morals.
- Velociraptor: Dinosaurs were never so scary. Steven Spielberg’s raptors from Jurassic Park were fantastic. Not only were they foreign, yet relatable looking, but they exhibited human gestures and intelligence through their physical actions. You could tell they were figuring things out or problem solving. Also, they made everyone look at the lizards and birds surrounding our daily life a little bit differently. Their gestures and sounds were unique, but echoing evolutionary detail. They were original and relatable, like you could see the easy connection between birds and dinosaurs.
- Monsters from the Village: A strange selection no doubt. SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t watched the movie, but there are no monsters surrounding the nearly Amish town located in Philadelphia. They’re a bunch of hippies from a commune using fear to control their populace through monster suits. The design of the “monsters” are what I loved and was inspired by. They’re giant, covered in cloaks with claws and pointed snouts, which bears resemblance to a modern goblin or fairy creature that could’ve existed in a magical realism universe that his stories inhabit. The presence of cloth with a monster is special because it shows intelligence and utility. This elevates the danger level for me over the mindless Xenomorph. A mediocre movie, but a potentially excellent monster. Clearly inspired my Unnamed from the Greenland Diaries.
- Licker from Resident Evil: I wanted to throw in a video game monster, because I’m not an aficionado when it comes to horror gaming, but I did play Resident Evil 2 growing up on the original PlayStation, and the scene where you see the first Licker appear from the rafters in that police station is burned into my memory. Basically, the Licker is an inside-out zombie with claws and ape-like agility, the Licker is formidable and fast, but it also echoes our own anatomy. You’re literally staring at your own organs being manipulated into a homicidal entity bent on rendering your flesh. Gruesome.
- Grendel: My great literary influence that first started my obsession with monsters. I was introduced to Grendel in 8th grade while reading a dumbed-down version of Beowulf in my English class. I remember being completely interested in his backstory versus the hero. It turns out in most translations that Grendel was the offspring of Cain’s family from the bible. He was human-like, but with hair, super-strength, and an iron hide. He torments Rothgar’s hall close to his cave because they party too loud. A metaphor for the natural world? He lives in isolation with his mother, which might have served as inspiration for Psycho. He is credited as being one of the first literary monsters. If you want to explore a book about his perspective read Grendel by John Gardner. One of my favorite novels, and a clear inspiration for my book Beware the Ills.
Thank you for reading. Have a safe Thanksgiving! Monsters, monsters, everywhere.