The Origins Of 10 Scariest Halloween Monsters: Zombies, Ghosts And Vampires, Oh My!
Photo Credit: iStock.com/Artist’s RomoloTavani
Halloween is America’s favorite holiday by far and we couldn’t agree more!
Take a break from the all-too-real horror that is the Donald Trump’s election campaign and dive into the frightfully fantastic world of ghostly ghouls and goblins. Come walk the dark and mysterious path to the past and find the beginnings of the 10 spookiest Halloween monsters.
Almost everyone knows the ancient origins of this creepy pre-Christian Celtic festival. We have something even more interesting and creepier, the origins of the iconic Halloween monsters.
That’s right we are talking about the classic monsters such as witches, vampires, ghosts, and goblins. These monsters have haunted our dreams and imaginations for centuries!
What power do they have over us?
Where did they come from?
Are they lurking out there on All Hallows Eve?
Let’s find out!
1. Unearthly Ghosts
According to folklore and mythology, a ghost is the imprint or soul left behind in the physical world after a person dies. A ghost is imagined as having a pale mist-like appearance, often resembling the person’s physical appearance. Belief in ghosts is prevalent in cultures that believe in an afterlife. History is full of hair-raising stories of vengeful ghosts that haunt the living. The oldest evidence we have is probably the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Ghosts haunted our imagination for tens of thousands of years and will continue to do so. In fact, we are so fascinated with creeping ourselves out, that we actually created a robot that mimics that creepy feeling of being watched!
2. Grisly Zombies
This origin story has a tragic aspect that is often forgotten, this horror trope has close associations with Haiti. The Haitians kept slaves and treated them with extreme brutality. Slaves would consider death a blissful end to being subjugated and often commit suicide. People believed any slave who took his or her own life would be condemned to walk the slave plantations forever, trapped in the physical body. The current pop-culture representation of a brain-eating mindless rotting corpse is quite a different version.
3. Spooky Witches
Witches are one of the oldest source of terror that keeps us up at night. In modern culture, they are often portrayed as old hags that fly on a broomstick, cast powerful spells, and sometimes worship the devil. Wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers also share similar origins to witches. Wicca and magic ties the origin stories of all these monsters.
4. Killer Robots
As traditional tales of terror took on a more futuristic approach in science fiction, a new monster was born, the sinister evil robot that wants to kill its creators. You might be thinking of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, or perhaps Skynet. Killer robots go back further than that; the most famous example is that of Talos, a metal automaton that protected the ancient Greek island of Crete. The modern version of killer robots hell-bent on destroying humans, first appeared in a play by Karel Capek called R.U.R. These robots were not strictly machines, but humanoids that end up exterminating the human race!
5. Abominable Aliens
The idea of otherworldly beings visiting us has been a central plot point of ancient myths and modern tales. A lot of people believe aliens exist and visit this planet often. The iconic image of the short humanoid grey-green alien depicted in popular culture can be traced back to a fake alien autopsy video released after the Roswell incident. Science fiction authors such as H.G Wells and Asimov have long written about benevolent and sinister alien beings, a concept that remains mind-bogglingly fascinating to us.
6. Eerie Vampires
Before they were tamed and turned into sparkly angst-ridden teenage versions by the Twilight series, vampires were gruesome terrifying beings that haunted the dark recesses of our minds. The most famous representation in pop culture is the character of Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s gothic horror novel, Dracula. The origin of the myths of these undead immortal creatures is most likely the cases of premature burials. Medical science wasn’t accurate in olden times and people were declared dead by mistake. The modern version of this monster is a charming and powerful being with enormous physical powers.
7. Terrifying Werewolves
The idea of a human-wolf hybrid goes back to ancient Germanic times. The people adhered to pagan beliefs that considered gifted warriors as wolves of the gods. These wolf-men stories morphed over time into the modern versions of a man that turns into a rabid wolf during the full moon. Werewolves didn’t dominate popular culture as quickly as mummies or vampires, but hold a significant place in the collective psyche.
8. Killer Clowns
Clowns aren’t exactly the mythic beasts of ancient lore, but they are creepy no matter what. There is something unfathomable about a face hiding behind that mask of makeup. Originally, clowns were meant to be similar to court jesters, lovable fools that merely entertained. However, recent pop culture has turned them into something quite disturbing. The first creepy murderous clown appeared in the Italian soap opera, Pagliacci. Another scary clown makes an appearance in Stephen King’s novel, It.
These literary portrayals merged with reality in a disturbing way when police apprehended the serial killer John Wayne Gacy back in the 1980’s. He became known as the “Killer Clown” because his day job included dressing up as a clown and entertaining kids at parties. The recent clown sightings have maxed out the creepiness level of clowns. As if having John Wayne Gacy in the history books was not enough, better keep an eye out for creepy clowns while trick or treating this year.
9. The Grim Reaper
The Grim Reaper is the so-called bringer of death, a being that haunts the physical plane looking for souls to collect and delivers them to the metaphysical realms. The modern image of the Grim Reaper you see in books and movies is a skeleton swathed in a black robe, holding a scythe. This tool is used to reap the souls that are destined to die. This imagery holds a close association with the state of Europe during the black plague. The black garb of the Grim Reaper represents the plague; the scythe is used to strike down multiple people in one blow, as the plague was wont to do.
10. Monstrous Mummies
Mummification was used by many ancient cultures as a way of preserving the human body and readying it for the journeys of the afterlife. Mummification can also occur as a natural process given the right combination of temperature and humidity, the monster trope however, is predominantly focused on Egyptian mummies.
The iconic image of the undead mummy stalking an unsuspecting puny little human in deep underground passages comes from the scary mind of Bram Stoker. That’s right the guy responsible for Dracula is also responsible for your mummy nightmares. Stoker’s novel, The Jewel of Seven Stars, featured an undead mummy that haunts an archeologist. Looks like Mr. Stoker loved Halloween as much as we do!
These creatures have terrified, plagued and haunted our collective consciousness for centuries and will continue to do so. Do you agree with the list? Which ones did you find most fascinatingly frightening? Tell us in the comments!