It’s said that monsters are humans externalizing their inner fears. As long as there have been legends and myths, there have been monsters. On maps of old, the parts that hadn’t been explored yet were marked simply: Here There Be Monsters. With some artistic license, ancient map-makers would draw monsters in those empty spaces. Usually attacking a ship. Just to make mariners feel all warm and comfy.
There have been untold numbers of monsters portrayed in books and movies. They range from the tiniest: nanotechnology and viruses, to the massive, Godzilla and the like. The tone with which monsters are presented runs the gamut from campy to ominous.
Naturally, the most dangerous monsters are the most real. And that would be people. But let’s not go there right now, although I do like what Peele did in Get Out. He took that element of scary movies, where the people in them always do the dumbest things and flipped it. “GET OUT!” Seriously. Never ever go check on that bump in the night. The Cabin in the Woods did something similar and was funny but also very scary.
There are some classic genre monsters: vampires, werewolves and the like. Stephen King is the master of the horror novel and he’s had a wide array of monsters. Pennywise in IT builds on our natural fear of clowns. Can’t sleep, clowns will get me.
I don’t know about others, but every so often I have the Godzilla dream, where something huge is stomping around hunting for me and I have to hide. A shrink could have a field day with that one– really that’s an easy one to knock out of the park.
I saw Alien when it first came out at the post movie theater near the quads at Fort Benning. The night before my first airborne jump. Not the smartest idea.
Stephen King’s Salems Lot made vampires very, very scary. Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire was a great read. Brilliant titles which tells you the core concept.
If you think about it, Jaws made a creature that exists into a monster. You’re much more likely to get hit by the idiot texting/driving monster than bitten by a shark.
I use monsters of legend in some of my books: kraken, Yeti, chimera, etc. Because I believe there is a kernel of truth in every legend. Even if its just a subconscious fear externalized.
Zombies are a classic example of something subconscious bubbling up. I’m not much into zombies, personally– no smart ass comments, thank you very much. Although there was one movie that twisted it and I liked: Warm Bodies.
Sacriest movies? Hmm. Jeepers Creepers was, well creepy. Tremors was scary at first, but also fun. “Picked the wrong rec room to break into!”
Looping to people being the scariest, Last House on the Left, the 1972 version, was banned in many places because it was all too real.
The scariest horror short stories I’ve read were King’s The Mist (the movie adaptation had one of the most devastating endings ever! but the TV version now is ARGH, bad). Who Goes There by John Campbell is very scary. Published in 1938. The movie The Thing From Another World was based on it. BTW, that’s Gunsmoke‘s James Arness as the Thing.
I’ll stop there or I’ll never stop. What monsters scare you?