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Autumn of Terror: My Favourite Monsters Part 2

By @hmsbeefnuts

Yesterday I brought you part one of a two part blog about my favourite versions of all the classic monsters. Well guess what? Here is part two, so you know the deal, here comes some more monsters that I love, and some more honourable mentions that I love almost, but not quite, as much. Part One can be found here. Part Two starts…. Now.

ZOMBIES

Zombies really don’t have that much in the name of variety. You have your standard undead, raised by magic, meteorites or simply if Hell is full with souls, and your voodoo type slave zombies. I happen to like the undead type, and what better, more horrible zombies than the Nazi variety. Call of Duty is a great game and the zombie mode is always fun. The scary thing about zombies is that on there own, they can be quite manageable, it is only when there are a crowd that things become a problem. When that crowd comes running screaming towards you, dressed like nazis, shit has really hit the fan, all one can hope is the magic box grants you a ray gun…

HONOURABLE MENTION

Little girl rage zombies, well that is just scary as shit right?

WITCHES

Responsible for more children’s nightmares than any other monster on this list, The Wicked Witch of the West is the perfect embodiment of evilness. Green skin, perfect witchy outfit, broom stick, hatred of children and general goodness, and if that’s not enough, she has flying blue monkey soldiers, and it doesnt get more evil than that.

HONOURABLE MENTION

The head witch is very scary. That moment when she takes her face off, absolutely terrifying, and she looks grotesque. Imagine waking up to that? No thanks.

MUMMIES

I like my Mummies wrapped in bandages and the Hammer mummy looks creepiest to me. Boris Karloff may be one of my favourite horror actors, but then so is Christopher Lee, and his eyes are way creepier than the Universal Mummy.

HONOURABLE MENTION

If Karloff had stayed in the bandages all the way through the film, he would have been my ultimate choice, however, he doesn’t and is quickly portrayed as a Dracula type figure. Love that black and white picture though.

MR. HYDE

I have always loved this look for Mr. Hyde. Very simian looking, very primal, and a brilliant transformation scene. It has to be this version of Hyde, it is the greatest.

HONOURABLE MENTION

Forget the film, the comic version of this Mr  Hyde is king. The way he deals with the invisable man alone proves this.

HUNCHBACK

Lon Chaney Snr. old school make up job, say no more.

HONOURABLE MENTION

Bela Lugosi played an evil hunchback assisstant in Son of Frankenstein, almost the best.

Autumn of Terror: There’s Something in The Woods…

By @hmsbeefnuts

Here at All Geek To Me, we love our horror, almost as much as we love Superheroes, and Batman, but not quite. However, in line with our previous month long special events, Avenging April and Summer Knights, we have decided that October, the spookiest month of the year, shall be dubbed The Autumn of Terror here at AGTM.

Why Autumn of Terror? Well it’s a reference to the late Summer and Autumn of 1888, which in London became known as The Autumn of Terror due to Jack the Ripper. I personally find the mystery of who Jack the Ripper was fascinating, and as it was now 124 years ago, we felt that using the name Autumn of Terror was perfectly fine. There will (hopefully) be an article all about Jack the Ripper up-coming, as soon as I write it, as well as a month full of horror movies, books, monsters, ghosts, and things that go bump in the night. It is only 30 days now until All Hallows Eve, when the restless spirits of the dead search the Earth for… ummm, pumpkins, or something I guess? They are definitely after something, so let’s get prepared as we dip into our first serving of the Autumn of Terror, I hope you enjoy this month…

I thought I would kick off AOT with a look at ‘real’ life monsters, things that go bump in the night, and the creatures that are said to inhabit the darkest and most remote places on Earth. Cryptozoology is the study of hidden animals, and there are genuine people who search for these creatures, known as cryptozoologists. Now I know that it is very unlikely that any of these creatures exist, yet people have seen them for hundreds of years, and in some cases, hundreds of times in one year. Who is to say that these creatures can not be real? People are seeing something, and the next time you find yourself in the woods, or on a lake, it may be worth being a little bit more cautious. You wouldn’t want to end up as a Sasquatch’s lunch…

LAKE MONSTERS

Nessie, or the Loch Ness Monster is the daddy of the lake monster class of monsters. First seen in the 6th Century AD by St. Columba, the monster didn’t really hit it’s stride until the 1930’s When a new road opened the Loch up to passing motorists. Every year tourists flock to the Loch in search of the monster, and there are sightings every year. Numerous searches have proved fruitless, but there are said to be caves under the Loch that link it to the sea, so maybe Nessie goes back and forth? Whatever the truth, I don’t think I’d like to swim across the Loch, and not just because it friggin’ massive either.

Lake Champlain also has a monster, this one dubbed Champie. First seen in 1883, there have been over 300 reported sightings of this Plesiosaur like animal, with no reported injuries to humans, but the important part of that phrase is ‘reported’.

BIG HAIRY MONSTERS

My personal favourite cryptid is Bigfoot. The picture above is taken from the Patterson/Gimlin film from 1966 the most famous piece of footage for any cryptid. Bigfoot, or Sasquatch has been seen for hundreds of years and is the best shout on this list for actually being real, along with his cousin the Yeti. Reports have stated that Bigfoots have kidnapped people, attacked people and are generally not a good a creature one should piss off. Around 8ft tall and hugely muscled, strong and fast, the Bigfoot isn’t a monster to be messed with.

The Yeti is a Bigfoot type creature found in the snows of Tibet as well as the temperate valleys. Also known as the Abominable Snowman, foot prints have been found in the snows since the 1920’s, but perhaps the best evidence comes from below the snow level, where the Yeti are said to spend most of their time in the forests and jungles. Makes sense really, I bet it damn cold up there, even if you have those big furry coats.

OTHER MONSTERS OF NOTE

In Britain we have our fair share of cryptids. There are said to be Bigfoot creatures seen on Scottish mountains, lake monsters and sea serpents aplenty, but perhaps the most common cryptid is the ABC (Alien Big Cat). Now it is quite reasonable to suggest that a population of big cats, perhaps puma or even panther do survive and prosper throughout the UK. Certainly many farmers have seen the damage that these beasts have done to their livestock. The Beast of Bodmin Moor, The Surrey Puma, and even the Essex Lion have all made headlines in recent years. Think twice before taking a walk alone in the countryside…

Many hundreds of people have also reportedly seen werewolves, yes, werewolves. Now this stretches credibility a bit far, but many rational people around America have seen a large wolf-like creature that walks on two legs. I should know, I read a book on it. Theories range from an adapted form of wolf, to a spirit animal, and everything in between, however, one man was reportedly attacked by one, so you know, maybe it was a bear or something, but maybe, just maybe it was a werewolf?

Mokele Mbembee is a surviving dinosaur said to live in the Congo jungles. A creature feared by locals, it is said to upturn boats, drowning those inside. Usually described as a long necked type dinosaur, like an Apatosaurus, which was a herbivore, perhaps the Mokele Mbembee has adapted to feast on the flesh of drowning locals?

The Jersey Devil is said to haunt the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, and woe betide any traveler who meets this horrific creature on their journey.

The Thunderbird is from Native American legend, and is a beast who is said to bring thunder and storms. Even though this creature is firmly set in myth, people do report seeing gigantic birds in the skies of remote parts of America, and there have also been reports of such birds attacking people.

People also from time to time report seeing much larger versions of regular animals. One such example are wolves. From time to time people are reporting seeing wolves of gigantic size, wolves that bear a striking resemblance to Dire Wolves, a now extinct, (or is it?) species of wolf that hunted the American forests thousands of years ago. The Dire Wolf is strong, quick and fierce and is much bigger than any known wolf today, not the kind of creature you want to meet on your way to Grandmothers house…

WEDNESDAY WHIMSY

By @hmsbeefnuts

 

Welcome to another weekly dose of whimsy, prescribed every Wednesday by yours truly. This week, I shall only deliver a small dose, as I am rather busy with work commitments. But we shall see how far we get. This week has been a sad one for the Geek community as a whole, and the Batman Geek community in particular. I refuse to give any publicity to anyone who commits an atrocity such as the one that happened last Friday, and it sickens me that the news agencies are seeking to exaggerate matters by referring to this sick individual as ‘The Batman Killer’ or ‘The Joker’. Please refrain from using such phrases, it only adds to this guys infamy.

There was of course very happy news in the world of Batman too. The Dark Knight Rises is a fantastic end to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. I will not review it here, at least not in any detail, until a few more people get to see it. I know Geeky Gem has yet to watch it, as soon as she does, I will write up some more detailed thoughts. I’m happy to say I thought it was fantastic, all the cast were amazing, the storyline was strong, and thankfully I avoided spoilers, which I urge you to do, as at times I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next. A very satisfying end to a very satisfying trilogy. I do not envy the guy who has to reboot the Bat now, but I am looking forward to the results. My vote would be to go for a less realistic universe, one in which Superman, Green Lantern, Flash and Wonder Woman can co-exist with Batman, because I want a Justice League Movie.

The Olympics starts on Friday, and to be honest I couldn’t give less of a shit. However, look out for a special series of Geek Olympics that we will be featuring on All Geek To Me, as soon as I can find the time to write them. Time is becoming a real problem at the moment and I am struggling to fit everything in. I had to quit my regular Sunday article at GameNTrain.com due to time constraints, a shame, as I did enjoy writing solely about video games, even if I was having trouble thinking of stuff to write about. I honestly considered The Top 5 Shoes in Gaming. Yeah, I was scraping the barrel. I would like to say thanks to everyone for giving me the opportunity over at GameNTrain, and Eric in particular. Always helpful, always supportive, good people.

I am currently reading Batman : No Man’s Land, which I am enjoying very much, I really need to make a dent in my comics pile, it is getting stupidly huge. I am also still reading Hunting The American Werewolf by Linda S. Godfrey, and yes I have been reading it for far too long. Once again, time is a factor here.

Games wise, I have been having a go at playing Lego Batman 2, and although I enjoy it in parts, it shares the problems that all the Lego games do, i.e., it has an awful camera system, it is very frustrating, and at times down right unfathomable, there are parts that are so obtuse as to be ridiculous. It is all made worthwhile however, by the fact that when you play as Superman, the John Williams theme plays when you fly, and you can shoot down baddies with your laser eyes!!

August is almost here, and we seem to have hit a bit of a movie low point. Most of the big action blockbusters are already out, and there seems like there is nothing really spectacular out  until The Hobbit in December. Of course, I will always find something to watch, practically every week, but all but one of the films I was really looking forward too this year have come out, roll on December.

Well that’s going to have to be it for one week, I have work to do.

The Celluloid Cryptozoologist: Werewolves

‘Even a man who is pure of heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf, when the Wolfs-bane blooms, and the Autumn moon is bright’.

An Olde Gypsy saying.

In the world of monsters, ghouls and ghosts, for me, there is only one choice for king, or queen, of the scary abandoned Gothic castle. Sure I like vampires, ghosts and gillmen as much as the next guy, but they simply can not compare to the lycanthrope, wolfman or werewolf. The wolfman beast type thing, is my favourite monster, and so I shall now write a rather long, but hopefully interesting, article on the subject. So sit back, relax, and enjoy as I bring you the first in a series of articles, The Celluloid Cryptozoologist.

The Werewolf, can come in many types and classes, but all, (well most), are awesome. Unlike Vampires (Dracula etc.), the Werewolf, hasn’t really had a classic novel or work that defines the typical werewolf, and as such, they are open to a certain degree of interpretation. The classic film, The Wolfman, is perhaps the archetype of many celluloid werewolves to come, and is a classic of the genre. In this film many of the trappings of werewolfery are set out, but some are very much absent. So friends, shall we delve into this fascinating celluloid cryptid? I think we should go on a journey, a journey into the heart of man, to reveal the beast in us all, so grab your wolfs-bane, and silver based weapon, and follow me into the forest where the beast who walk among us reside, don’t stray from the path, and off to Grandmother’s house we go…

WOLFMEN

 

The Wolfman is a curious breed. In this list of werewolf-type creatures, a wolfman is perhaps the closest to a human. There are many distinct types of wolfmen, but similar features are found in each. A wolfman will stand upright, and from a distance could be mistaken for an average human. However, on closer inspection, if you are stupid enough, or unlucky enough to to see one up close, they are very different to the average human. In The Werewolf of London (1935), the werewolf is less hairy than other types, the face is distorted into an animalistic snarl, and the teeth, claws and eyes are certainly terrifying. Often described as The Elvis Werewolf, due to the hair style, this poor creature was turned by the bite of another werewolf, although this is not always the case with wolfmen, as being born on Christmas Eve, having eyebrows that meet in the middle and being the result of a rape, can all account for the child being a wolfman (Curse of the Werewolf).

A hairier cousin to this creature can be found in The Wolfman (1941). Poor Larry Talbot, also bitten by a wolf, has more pronounced changes, hairy all over, a short wolf snout, and hairy clawed hands and wolf feet. A tragic character, this creature instinctively seeks to destroy those it loves, and can only be killed with silver, in this case, a silver headed cane, although this method may not in fact be very efficient as 1943’s Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, suggests. At times a wolfman may exhibit the attributes of a wolf during his human hours, including an increased sense of smell, and hearing, as well as sexual aggressiveness and a take no shit attitude (Wolf, 1993). The Wolfman, may in fact be just a stage of evolution of the werewolf, as Jack Nicholson’s character in Wolf shows, he eventually turns in a werewolf proper i.e. a full on wolf. The Wolfman, 2010 shows a far more animalistic and vicious creature, hairier, more aggressive killing machine. It is a matter of some debate whether or not a wolfman needs the full moon to change, it seems that sometimes he does, but other times not, it must be taken on a case by case basis.

WEREWOLVES

 

The werewolf, from the Anglo-Saxon were, meaning man and wulf, meaning wolf, literally a man-wolf. However, for the purposes of this article, here, a werewolf will be a term describing a man who turns into a four legged wolf, literally, a man turning into an animal. Again, there are numerous types of werewolves, and as mentioned above, the werewolf, may be the final stage of transformation of the wolfman, however, evidence suggests that most werewolves do not go through a wolfman stage. Classic examples of this type can be seen in The Beast Must Die and The Company of Wolves. In these cases, the man whose disease origin is unknown, turns into a real wolf, and once dispatched, will revert to human form. Werewolves are more likely to only change during a full moon and are susceptible to silver, usually in the form of a bullet.

Special cases of this type of werewolfery include An American Werewolf In London and Red Riding Hood. In these cases, the werewolf far exceeds an ordinary wolf in both size and aggressiveness. In the first case, people bitten by a the wolf will become werewolves, but those killed become undead, and haunt the human hours of the werewolf, causing guilt at what he has done. In the second case, the curse of the werewolf can be passed down through family members, but a bite is still required to cause a final transformation. A psychic link to family members may also be present, showing that at least some werewolves are not just savage beasts, but are able to make decisions and show a definite human intelligence, making them extremely dangerous. Transformations can be extremely painful, as the human body twists and shift into the form of a wolf, and sufferers will often wake up in strange places, often in a mess of blood an entrails, and sometimes even in the company of real wolves. Unlike with wolfmen, werewolves do not wear clothes, so waking up naked somewhere quite public is a real possibility. Vampires have been known to be able to change into wolves, and as such the werewolf and the vampire are closely linked. (Dracula, 1931).

LYCANTHROPES

 

Lycanthropy is a real disease, symptoms include, an aversion to sunlight, animalistic behaviour and an increase in hair growth, however, for the purposes of this article, Lycanthropes will be used to describe those werewolves who turn from man in a bipedal, wolf-headed creature. Once again, there are a few types of these creatures, and their physiology is not always common. Variations in size are recorded, however, Lycanthropes are usually described as very large, aggressive and extremely dangerous. There have been cases reported that suggest that these creatures are the most dangerous of all werewolves. In Dog Soldiers two teams of highly trained British soldiers, one of them a Spec Ops team, are literally ripped to shreds by a pack of Lycanthropes. This is one of their most fascinating traits, pack behaviour. Unlike other werewolves, who prefer a solitary existence, some types of Lycanthropes prefer to hunt in packs, and can in fact live in family/pack units. (Dog Soldiers, The Howling), it is unclear whether or not Lycanthropy is inherited or not, but it is certain that it can be transmitted through bite.

Other types of Lycanthropes have the ability to talk (Cursed) and many have a specific hatred of other members of the underworld of monsters, namely Vampires (Underworld). It has been suggested that Lycanthropes were bred as guardians for vampires, vampire guard dogs if you will. Also it is suggested that a Lycanthrope is the only creature that can destroy a master vampire (Van Helsing). Lycanthropes are common around the world, well as common as any creature of the night, but are most commonly found in Europe and North America. Native American legends talk of the Manitou or Wendigo creatures that bare a strong resemblance to the Lycanthrope (The X-Files : Shapes). Lycanthropes do not need the full moon to bring about the change, and some types, do not even require darkness for it to happen, being able to change at will. Silver is a common cause of death, but by no means a certain way of destruction, it seems fire in the form of an explosion will do the trick (Dog Soldiers).

WOLF-MAN TYPE THINGS

Our final species of werewolf, and hard to pin down. Some types of these beasts exhibit many of the traits of wolfmen, lycanthropes and werewolves, and some, not at all. Some barely seem to change from their human form, whilst others are wild and savage beasts killing all who come into contact with them. In She-wolf of London, one of our few female case studies, the subject does not change into a wolf of any description, instead, the change is a psychological one, as she convinces herself she becomes a wolf at night in order to commit murders. Other examples, and indeed, another female example can be found in A Company of Wolves. One case in this study concerns a young female creature who is neither werewolf, wolfman or lycanthrope, but a kind of wild girl with slight wolf attributes. A Professor Lupin, who used to teach at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is reported to be a werewolf, however, pictorial evidence seems to suggest that the creature that he turns into, whilst sharing certain characteristics with lycanthropes, is not a true member of this species (he looks rubbish).

As mentioned above, the vampire and the werewolf are quite closely linked in some cultures. Powerful vampires are said to be able to change into wolf like creatures in order to exploit their more animal natures. A certain Count Dracula, renowned as King of all Vampires, has at times exhibited the ability to turn into both wolves, and wolf like creatures (Bram Stocker’s Dracula). There most fearsome of all wolf-like creatures however, may in fact be the werewolf/vampire hybrid. A werewolf born, then later bitten by a vampire, creating a creature of terrifying power, sharing all the strengths of both species, but few of the weaknesses, the hybrid (Underworld) is to be avoided at all costs by all but the most confident hunter.

So there we have it, all that man may know about the loups–garou, that’s a French werewolf to you, yeah look impressed. Until next we meet, stay on the path, don’t talk to strange men who’s eyebrows meet in the middle, and most of all, beware the moon, and if all that fails, make sure Liam Neeson is in close proximity.

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