Monday, November 14, 2016

In Search of New Monsters For Horror Fiction

A ghoul holding a candle and peaking through a doorway.

The most current horror story I’m writing is a haunted house one but the challenge is in coming up with unique monsters. So far I’ve steered clear of the vampires and zombies (unless you count attacking skeletons, which I don’t because they don’t have enough flesh to be considered a corpse). I don’t want to create any spoilers, but the monsters that are cliché in this story are more so in high fantasy than in straight horror.

For the past decade, vampires and zombies have dominated the horror/sci fi scene. As with many types of monsters, their popularity is a phase. Vampires have been fading out in the last year or so. Although the two will be in the popular imagination for years to come, like everything else they are fads and fads eventually fade out. Aliens were a fad in the ‘90s and early 2001s; pirates were a fad in the late 2001s through the early half of the present decade. As much as I love zombies, their popularity will probably be used up soon and the masses will probably move on to other characters of interest. These could be demonic clowns which seem to have been getting more of a spotlight horror fiction lately.

Yet, for those of us writers who specialise in certain monsters that have been traditionally popular such as the undead or werewolves, we can still put twists on their characters in order to prevent rehashing old plots. But the challenge in writing about archetypal monsters such as these is to come up with new ways of portraying them. Fairly recently, comic books have been doing this by making the hero a zombie such as in I, Zombie, or a vampire breaking the stereotype of monsters as evil and victimising. But now this trend is getting old.

The problem with much horror, not just today’s but that of the past 50 years at least, is that it caters to the more familiar archetypes like the ones mentioned above. Which is a little ironic because the basis of horror fiction is fear of the unknown, and so fear of the unfamiliar. But Frankensteinian monsters, Dracula and Jeckylle-and-Hyde archetypes have been done numerous times in both books and movies, not to mention television. What’s so surprising is that, with the fan cult following of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthullu character, that a major movie hasn’t adapted that character yet. Though a movie based on Lovecraft’s Mythos, The Mountains of Madness, has been in the plans for the last two years at least, there seem to be very updates on it.

An article at, entitled “Alright, Folks, It’s Time Horror Got Some New Monsters” talks in great detail about the need for new fiends in fiction. It’s a really good one and includes interviews with horror authors and movie directors on the subject. I strongly recommend reading it.

So what monsters out there in the mythical universe do you think deserve a chance in books, TV and the big screen? Please leave your answers in the box below.

Until next time . . .

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