4 Tired Hollywood Monsters And What They Should Be Replaced With
Horror movies are a stalwart part of American cinema, probably because abject fear is a timeless emotion. Some people love them, some people enjoy them, and some people can’t understand why anyone would pay good money or valuable Netflix time to be terrified. Speaking for myself, I’d much rather spend two hours worrying about a fake serial killer than letting my brain wrestle with real, generalized, amorphous doom. I wish the solution to existential dread was as straightforward as “wooden stake through the heart” instead of “years and years of consistent therapy… maybe.”
And when a horror writer is flipping through their rolodex of creepy crawlies to find a new antagonist for their latest feature, a couple of the cards are particularly well-worn. People might not be as GENUINELY scared of things like zombies, but they hit a reliable nerve all the same. That said, especially with the explosion of horror movies we've seemingly had in recent years, it might be time for a twist on some of the old staples. Classic creatures are called that for a reason, but when viewers have a mental dossier on every weakness and habit of your main baddie, it can make movies start to feel a little paint-by-numbers.
So here are 5 movie monsters that have been done to death -- and variations that deserve a little more of the limelight.
Vampires - Jiangshi
Everyone’s favorite sharp-toothed spooks have been a go-to since the days of Count Dracula. We get the general gist: they vant to suck your blood, turn into bats, and continue to get sexier and sexier for some reason. The problem is that most toddlers can probably list off a vampire-killing shopping list at this point. The tropes are so well-defined that Taika Waititi was able to turn them into both an excellent movie and sitcom.
What’s more, the tale of the vampire exists all over the world, yet we’re constantly stuck with the classic, ruby brooch and black-and-red loving European variant. It’s time to get a little more worldly with our vamps, and a good start would be the Chinese Jiangshi. They’re already a popular sight in Chinese cinema, and it’s about time these vampires, known for their hopping motion, jumped the Pacific ocean and made it into our cinemas.
First of all, Jiangshi are sometimes raised by a necromancer, which gives you an immediate big bad. They’re pale, like usual vampires, but with the added ick of having moss and mold growing all over their flesh. They’ve got incredibly long tongues, which is never great, and they’re blind, opening up all sorts of fun encounter shenanigans. They’re basically what happens if a classic count got turned into a clicker from The Last Of Us.
Zombies - Wendigos
Speaking of The Last Of Us: the game-turned-show is garnering well-deserved positive reviews for its fungal twist on zombies. But we have to admit that, despite the mushrooms on top, the zombie trope still feels a little tired. You can only evade shambling masses for so long, and there’s only so many ways for that one guy to hide a bite from the rest of the group. “Is it ethical to kill a zombie, even though it used to be a person” isn’t really a conundrum anymore, and any character wrestling with that choice is probably met with a watch check more than any empathy.
Fortunately, there’s another flesh-eater waiting in the wings to be properly utilized: the wendigo. Tall, ghostly white, gaunt creatures with jagged, lipless teeth, filled with a forever insatiable hunger for human flesh, it would make for a more dynamic foe than a bunch of mall shoppers rubbing a window for twenty minutes. Even cooler is that it’s said to be created by eating human flesh, not a mere bite. Imagine a wendigo here-comes-the-airplane-ing a people piece into somebody’s mouth, then tell me that isn’t a cool-ass scene. It also has its own psychosis, “wendigo psychosis”, that’s said to cause regular people to crave human flesh. A lot spookier, and more to play with, than whether or not you got gummed.
Werewolves - Barghest
Werewolves, it seems, have hit a bit of a slow patch, even though they’ve got cool lore to compete with plenty of other ghouls and ghosts. Who doesn’t love a silver bullet in a customized revolver, after all? Werewolves, though, are also bound to some pretty strict rules, which might make them a little less terrifying. After all, for 99 percent of the lunar cycle, they’re just a dude with a secret. Some chains, a chair, and a decent combination lock, and the problem is pretty much solved. When they’re loose, though, you’ve got a whole lot of great traits to play with: superhuman strength, speed, and a penchant for leaving a crime scene with enough viscera splayed about to sate any gorehound.
So why not skip the whole full moon rigmarole and go straight for a creature that doesn’t need to check the Farmer’s Almanac? English folklore’s already got a candidate ready to go, with the tale of the Barghest. First of all, the name is sick, which can’t be understated. The Barghest is a massive black dog, with teeth and claws to match, that’s both an ill omen if sighted and a worse omen if it decides to attack you. It’s already had a couple literary debuts under different names, like the eponymous dog in Hound of the Baskervilles or the Grim in the Harry Potter series. It’s time a Barghest gets top billing – there are lots of variants to pick and choose from to create the demonic dog of your dreams: glowing red eyes, only one large eye, an amphibious variant, or as the tale goes in Manchester, entirely headless.
Creepy Kids - Mylings
I’m not going to pretend that the trope of the creepy child has lost any power over me, regardless of how commonplace they’ve become. The fact that one glance at the kid from the Grudge would cause me to shit my pants to death doesn’t change the fact that the trope is becoming a little played out. The phenomenon of the wronged child, back with awful doe eyes to extract revenge, though, is still a great tale. So where do we get a new terrifying toddler-type? From Sweden, in the form of the Myling.
Those who’ve played at least the first bit of the Witcher 3 might already be familiar with a creature heavily inspired by the Myling: the Botchling. The Myling is an unwanted child, killed by its mother. They haunt their own unmarked graves, spending the night singing to attempt to cause discovery of their mothers’ crime. Be unlucky enough to get close to one, and it’ll run and jump onto your back, demanding to be taken to the graveyard to be buried as they deserve. Unfortunately, the Myling grows larger and larger the closer it gets to the graveyard, and if its swelling mass proves too much for the piggybackee in question, it’s not a “well, thanks for trying!” situation. Instead, the Myling flies into an uncontrollable rage, ripping them to shreds and returning to the grave to hope for a bigger, buffer victim.