The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Monsters

Posted by BigWords on July 12, 2009

The Creature looked down upon the village hungrily, eyes narrowed and shallow of breath, determining which foodstuff he could kill without struggle…

Monsters have played a large part of my life. When I was a li’l kid, I spent a lot of time watching the classic Universal monsters stalk and smash their way across the screen in television repeats of the legendary movies. As I grew older, and started to understand the other-ness of the stories, I became obsessed with Victor Frankenstein’s stitched-together creation and the shambling horrors of George A. Romero’s ghouls. They were primeval, instinctual nightmares dredged up from the subconscious and given life.

The foodstuffs were moving slowly, makings sounds at one another. They carried their gatherings like he did, but garbed themselves in strange materials to hide their true shape. The Creature knew they were breakable, and when broken they gave up their juices as any other foodstuff would.

Monsters speak to us in ways which romantic heroes or adventurous spacefarers cannot or will not. The essence of a true monster is simple and complex, and it is hard to explain just how important the EC Comics reprints forged an unbreakable connection in my mind between shadows and fears. My mother tells a story every so often about one night I stayed up to watch a Quatermass serial. I forget which one I saw, but the most likely culprit seems to be Quatermass And The Pit. I had gone to bed after watching the black and white images long enough for them to have made an impression, but woke in the middle of the night. A scream brought her running to my room.

The outline of my dressing gown hanging on the door had stirred images of a thing standing before the foot of my bed.

I bring this up in the hope of explaining how a physical reaction to the written (or filmed) word is still possible in an age when the better part of our world is mapped and charted. The nuances of the universe are being slowly unraveled, while scientists struggle to comprehend the ways in which new energy sources can be found… Is there room for the unknowable or the unseen? Have we destroyed the sense of fear which led our ancestors to write ‘here be dragons’ on maps?

I don’t think we’re even close to claiming superiority over the night. We’re still bound to the fears of the dark. Horror may have changed its’ clothes over the decades, but it’s still the same chap. The Bogeyman may not be an undead Count, or a tragic Cenobite, or a screaming Banshee, or the flesh-eating Wendigo, but he is still waiting to catch you unawares when the moon is high in the sky and there is no-one around to hear your screams. The Monster, as a character in and of itself, will remain in the world of writing as long as there are writers.

Carefully, steadily, the Creature made his way to the foot of the hill. His terrible aspect hidden in the outstretched fingers of the ancient trees.

There is no way I can let the tradition of classic monsters go. They are much a part of me as any other cultural influence.

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