Over the course of human history we have produced tales of twisted souls, demonic creatures and monsters that roam the darkness.Â Weâ€™ve thrilled to tales of haunted houses and basked in the glory of the terror that a good ghost story can conjure around a campfire. Somewhere along the way though, many of the monsters we once feared became something else, something more pathetic than terrifying.
Far back in the 18th century, where running water was only found in rivers and the average life expectancy was less than forty years; the modern vampire tradition rose up out of its casket and started hunting for victims. Originating in South-eastern Europe, vampires were thought to be the revenants of witches, suicides, generally wicked folks and the dearly departed and devoured victims of other vampires. It was not uncommon for villagers to dig up their interred kith and kin in order to make sure they were not wandering about the countryside treating the locals like an all-you-can-suck buffet. Back then you could recognize a vampire pretty easily, they were undead, shambling corpses of loved ones, bloatedÂ like supersized leaches on the blood of their victims, usually dressed in the shredded remains of their burial shroud.
Todayâ€™s vampires donâ€™t shamble, they sparkle. They spend their undead eternities bonding with their primary food source (humans) and then feeling guilty when they get the midnight munchies and snack on their BFF. Creepy coffins have been replaced with sun-proof mansions, and the bloated corpses of yesteryear have become rockstars and angst ridden heart-throbs.
They were big, brutish hulks that look vaguely human and had a mean streak as wide as their oversized shoulders. Ogres made it big in the 1600â€™s, where Perraultâ€™s book of fairy tales brought them into the spot light after centuries of haunting childrenâ€™s nightmares and lurking in the shadows.
Ogres were always portrayed as being thick skulled, slow witted and about as mentally gifted as a stoned gerbil. What they lacked in brains they more than made up for in cruelty, likely voted as â€œmonster most likely to beat up Frankenstein for his lunch money.â€
The darkest, cruelest and most vicious of our nightmares has been turned into the adorably cute, green skinned money maker known as Shrek. With his gentle manner and comedic timing this cuddly creature is more suited to the thousands of plush toys stitched in his image than to the Monster Hall of Fame (which can be found under a childâ€™s bed or in their closet after the lights go out.) From fangs, claws and a taste for tender kiddy flesh to soft hearted monster with flatulence and gas as his most dangerous weapons, the Ogre has fallen far.
Their proper name is Therianthropes, though they have many names in different cultures. Skinwalkers, shape shifters, or werewolves. The legends of werewolves date back as far as that of the vampire, though they are as different as life and undeath. Unlike the walking corpses that are vampires, werewolves are still living beings, usually believed to have invoked spirits or the Devil in one of a wide variety of rituals designed to transform manâ€™s inner beast into a snarling lap dog of Satan.Â This transformation from man to fuzzy psychopath could also be causedÂ by accidentally drinking water out of the footprint of a wolf or falling asleep outside under the full moon.Â Once transformed, these monsters ran amok, killing livestock, villagers and anyone left alive after the vampires had swept the area.
Several hundred movies, tv shows and books later, the werewolf myth has become as domesticated as a miniature poodle. Oh it still has teeth and claws, but its just not on the same scale. The image of man reverting to his inner beast has been subverted into metaphors for everything from teenage angst to mental illness. Thanks to the Twilight movies the latest romance novel trend has women falling for men of the werewolf persuasion by dozens, and no one seems to have figured out that between the nights of the full moon and her monthly cycle, domestic bliss is going to be in short supply twice a month and chocolate ice cream is only going to help 50% of the time.
Succubus / Incubus
Succubi and Incubi are the devilâ€™s porn stars, a demonic tag team of sex and reproduction that used to strike fear into the heart of every virgin. Oh sure, we know what youâ€™re thinking, â€œThatâ€™s not a nightmare, thatâ€™s a wet dream come true!â€ Well no, not when your bedmate takes the phrase â€œcoyote uglyâ€ to a whole new level. Descriptions of this malevolent fornicators date back as far as the Sumerian age and none of them are going to be a Playdemon of the month. Victims of these creatures fall into a dream state where they are seduced, only to waken and discover they are in the embrace of a hideous creature and not the gorgeous creature of their dreams. Much like many a one night stand when viewed in the light of day, these creatures are the stuff of nightmares. If they donâ€™t outright drain you of your life force, they may very well drain their male victims of their dna, transferring it to their incubus counterparts to knock up female victims. The demonically tainted offspring of these rapefests are known as Cambions, supernatural beings, usually of the evil variety.
The modern succubus is neither horrible nor hideous, instead they are the horned (and horny) nymphomaniacs of the demon world, clad in skimpy clothing and eternally eager to jump the bones of any mortal they can find. Racy, raunchy and smoking hot, they are the object of fantasy instead of fear, immortalized in everything from television to World of Warcraft.
The Wee Folk, the Fair Folk, and the Fae are all names given to the fairies, those winsome creatures who filled the pages of our childhood stories. These creatures were far from charming however, and were considered to be the cause of every malady from soured milk to sudden death. They tangled hair, stole children and slaughtered livestock every time they were provoked or simply having a bad hair day. Farmers would leave out a tithing of cream, cheese, porridge or other goodies to appease these malignant flitterjibs, fearful that if they failed their fairy overlords ill fortune would plague them and their families. Tales were told of young men and women seduced into dancing and revelry with the fairy and being forced to dance to their deaths, starved and exhausted from trying to keep up to their magical partners. Will o’ the wisps or fairy lights would lead travelers to their doom in the bogs and swamps, tempting them off the safe paths and into the mire. In olden days people slipped cold iron into their babyâ€™s cribs to ward off the fae and keep them from stealing their children, and wore four leaf clovers, St Johnâ€™s wort and iron in their pockets as charms to keep themselves safe.
Fairies have evolved into delicate creatures of sweetness, light and sparkles, featured in Disney films, mass produced by Barbie and spackled over the walls and binders of every preteen girl. They grant wishes, ride unicorns and slide down rainbows into magical kingdoms of saccharine flavoured magicks, all the while fluttering on butterfly wings and dispensing fairy dust. They sing, they dance, and the have become iconic symbols of day dreams, wishes and wonderment, a far cry from the forces of malice and mischief they once were.