Summer is here and it’s time for monster lovers to be scared “witless” by their favorite supernatural beasts.
Many years ago in Creative Writing 101, our professor instructed the class to draw on the classics for our own inspiration. This has been accomplished over and over again by writers and movie makers with great success. Take a look at some of the monsters that have been a constant source of colorful creativity:
Are probably the oldest monsters of folklore. There are many descriptions on dragons and giant serpents. Many of the most developed dragons hail from the Chinese cultures and for hundreds of years, rural Chinese made tea from dinosaur bones actually believing they were from dragons.
In the Bible’s Book of Isaiah a monstrous sea serpent dragon called Leviathan. there are many variations on dragons and giant serpents. The Bible’s Old Testament describes Leviathan, a monstrous sea serpent dragon. Some of the most developed dragons come from Chinese culture. For centuries some rural Chinese dug up (and made tea from) dinosaur bones, believing they were from dragons.
The West is rich in dragon folklore. Legends tell the story of St George, the patron saint of England, who slew a fearsome dragon. While dragons are ancient, they are more popular now than at any other time in history, appearing in role-playing games such as “Dungeons and Dragons” and popular films such as “Lord of the Rings.” I love the little dragon in HBO’s“Game of Thrones”.
I’ve heard that Canada has more lake monsters than any other country, boasting no fewer than a dozen. The one I’ll mention here reputedly lives in British Columbia’s Lake Okanagan and is one of the world’s top 10 monsters. The monster is called Ogopogo (an old music hall song) is unique because Indians in the region used to make live sacrifices to a water spirit in the lake to protect them as they crossed in boats near the home of Ogopogo, Monster Island.
As with Scotland’s Loch Ness, many eyewitnesses continue to report odd things in the lake. John Kirk, expert on Ogopogo and president of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, there is apparently better evidence for the existence of a monster a mysterious monster in Canada’s Lake Okanagan than at Loch Ness (Hmm, some might not agree).
Loch Ness Monster
The beastie said to inhabit Scotland’s Loch Ness is the world’s most famous lake monster with the earliest eyewitness account dates back only to May 1933 and has been a major tourist attraction for the beautiful city of Inverness and towns along the loch.
People have spent a lot of money for more than seventy years looking for Nessie are those who wish to finally prove that there is no monster lurking beneath the quirky waters. I should say that they are attempting to verify the more than occasional sightings, photos, video’s etc. Public interest is still high and since it’s a beautiful area well worth a visit. The product of the famous whisky distilleries in the area was probably responsible for many sightings.
I was assured while travelling by ferry on Lake Champlain (which borders Vermont, New York, and Canada) that it is home to “America’s Loch Ness Monster,” named Champ. Descriptions of Champ vary widely, but is it said to be anywhere from 10 to over 100 feet long, with dark skin covered with several humps. The head supposedly resembles a snake or dog.
A photograph claimed to be of the monster was published in The New York Times in 1981, giving the monster national notoriety, and was considered the best evidence for any lake monster. The photograph that produced a star was later revealed in 2003 by experts to be almost certainly an image of a floating log instead of a lake monster. Sightings are less frequent these days, but the legend is kept alive by the local minor league baseball team and the Vermont Lake Monsters.
The chupacabra (goat sucker in Spanish) first gained notoriety in Puerto Rico in 1995 and many Latin Americans believe it’s the result of secret U.S. government experiments in the jungles of Puerto Rico. Goats are said to be its favorite prey—hence the name—but it appears to like cats, sheep, rabbits, dogs, chickens and other animals.
Descriptions of chupacabra vary, but from many accounts the creature stands about 4 to 5 feet tall, has short powerful legs, log claws, and glowing read eyes.
It had a heyday of about five years and was widely reported in Mexico, Chile, Nicaragua, Spain, and Argentina—all Spanish speaking areas. Although sightings are reported in the Texas area and New Mexico it’s regarded as a myth.
Said to be a distant cousin of the mermaid an according to legend sirens were beautiful, alluring women who lived near rocky cliffs and sang to passing sailors. Sailors would become enchanted by the sirens’ song which ended in their death when their boats crashed upon the rocky shore. Probably an ancient morality tale about the lure of evil women.
Sirens are often depicted as half-bird, half-woman creatures who would lure travelers to their doom with harps instead of their voices. In Greek mythology, Odysseus escaped the sirens by having his sailors plug their ears with beeswax. In modern times doctors recommend soft foam earplugs for seamen who encounter sirens.
The hair-raising werewolf is a terrifying blend of man and beast. Some believe that a werewolf terrorized the French countryside in 1764 in the form of a wolflike creature and killed dozens of villagers and depicted in the move “Brotherhood of the Wolf.” The werewolf is only one variation of lycanthropy, the ancient belief being that some people have the ability to change into animals, shape-shifting, at will on certain dates, or on full moons.
An an unusual disease that causes excessive body hair (called hypertrichosis) may have contributed to belief in werewolves. For example, sideshow performers with the disease were once exhibited as werewolves or “wolfmen.” The full moon connection is said to have come about because of the tendency of wolves and dogs to bark at the moon. The creative silver bullet solution came along later.
No monster has captured the public’s imagination the way vampires have. A century after Bram Stoker modeled his Dracula character after Romanian national hero Vlad Tepes, the interest in vampires is as strong as ever. From Dracula to movies, to Anne Rice novels,Christine Feehan novels, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Both sensual and scary, vampire lore has produced a thriving goth subculture, which in itself is scary. Regardless of strong evidence that vampires are a fictional creation, some people even claim to be vampires, conducting arcane rituals and consuming blood from willing donors—very scary.
Bigfoot is a very popular monster and has had pizzas and monster trucks named after it. No one knows for certain what it is, or if it exists, but many people do believe it does.
Bigfoot gets his name from the large footprint it supposedly leaves behind and has a large profile on reality TV. The popularity is mostly due to a short film taken in 1967 in Bluff Creek, California. The film shows a furry large manlike creature walking upright across a clearing.
People are very engaged in the big foot mystery and after forty years the short film remains the best evidence of its existence. Bigfoot has the ability to leave no hard evidence of its existence. No teeth, bones or live or dead specimens have been found.
The giant squid featured in many horror stories is the only monster known to be real, athough for centuries its existence was a legend and a common ocean dwelling monster in many works of fiction.
Ancient sea stories told of the Kraken, legendary sea monsters of giant proportions reported to live off the coasts of Norway and Greenland. The legend may have originated from sightings of giant squid estimated to grow to forty to fifty feet long including the tentacles.
Biologists have finally verified the existence of a true sea monster: the mysterious giant squid Architeuthis. Dead specimens periodically wash up on the world’s beaches, most often on Newfoundland and New Zealand. In 2004, Japanese zoologists filmed a twenty-six foot long giant squid nearly 3,000 feet below the surface of the ocean.