In celebration of the symbols and science of monsters let us enjoy a gallery of various unspeakable creatures profiled here at Stuff to Blow Your Mind, as well as a few monster articles I wrote for HowStuffWorks. And be sure to watch our Monster Science video series as well...
We've discussed humanoid sanguivores and Mexican vampire women before, but this week we turn our attention to Count Spirochete, the vampiric embodiment of syphilis.
It's August, 1944 and a prowler with a gas gun terrorizes the streets of Mattoon, Ill. Explore the subjective reality of the mysterious happening in this Monster of the Week post.
We've discussed sexy Mexican vampires already, but The Brainiac takes us into rather unappealing waters. Meet the true, vampiric from of Baron Vitelius, AKA "The Brainiac," a 17th century Mexican aristocrat who escaped the Holy Inquisition by hitching a ride on a passing comet only to return to Earth three centuries later with a vastly inhuman physiology.
Werewolves, by their very nature, feast on human flesh. Even our most ancient account of lupine humans, such as the Greek myth of Lycaon, revolve around the taboo of cannibalism. But what denizen of the natural world can we turn to for a parallel example? What other creature physically alters its from in order to dine on conspecific prey? Find out in this Monster of the Week post...
High Society isn't just another world. It's another species entirely. Yes, as explored in Brain Yuzna's 1989 documentary, things are not what they seem in the ivory towers of suburban America. Our social betters are actually a very ancient species of flesh-crafting, shape-shifting organisms.
We have of course covered the North American slasher before, both in the form of Homo Vorrhees and Homo Myers, but our study of these fascinating creatures would not be complete without mention of Homo Cropsy, a slasher evolved to thrive in a fire-prone environment.
You probably haven't given much thought to the sex life of Mortal Kombat's "Baraka," but the creature's mating habits are key to understanding Tarkatan evolution. Read all about it in this Monster of the Week post.
Upon first glance, the killer in "Jeepers Creepers" might seem just another villainous rural gargoyle, but there's far more to the Creeper than meets the eye. Explore the cosmic weirdness of this winged horror in this post.
What's that? The science behind everyone's favorite bio-electric primate? You bet. Read "Monster of the Week: Blanka the Street Fighter."
What are we to make of the cyclops and its lone eye? Explore some natural-world single-eyed organisms as well as an exploration of the cyclops' strange "third" eye in this Monster of the Week post.
Are pain and pleasure linked? Is torment a gateway to enlightenment? Explore the science of the "Hellraiser" cenobites in this Monster of the Week post.
How does this nasty cave creature match up with natural-world troglofauna? Find out in this Monster of the Week post about the creature's from 2005's "The Descent."
How do the worlds of quantum physics and H.P. Lovecraft converge? Find out in in Monster of the Week: The Haunter of the Dark.
Behold the demon Buer, described in Johann Weyer's 1563 grimoire "Pseudomonarchia Daemonum" as the great president of Hell. Explore his strange biology in this Monster of the Week post.
How might the humanoid vampire work as a natural-world organism? How would it have evolved? We look the vampire bat for grisly answers in this Nosferatu-choked Monster of the Week post.
The "Alien" xenomorph is one of the finest monsters of all time, resplendent with parallels to natural-world organisms. Read all about it in "How the 'Alien' Xenomorph Works," filled with the amazing artwork of H.R. Giger.
Enter the domain of the Rat King...
I do not recognize the vessel, but the eyes seem so familiar.
Meet the Judas Breed from "Mimic" in this post.
Did Grendel lose that arm to Beowulf on purpose? Maybe he did... Learn more about it in this Monster of the Week post.
There's a lot to love in "The Beastmaster," but the strange, winged devourers are right up there at the top of the list...
Beware of the blob, for very good reasons...
Tweak, why are you eating those stones? Find out in Monster of the Week: Tweak (2000 AD).
According to science, a centaur would need two hearts in order to live. Read all about it here.
Can radiation REALLY turn us all into Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers? Find out right here.
The "Feast" creatures are rather disgusting, but the science is fascinating. Read all about them in this Monster of the Week post.
What does the fire-breathing European dragon symbolize? Where does its fire come from? Find out in this post.
Crites are awful and to be avoided at all costs. Learn all about them in Monster of the Week: The Crites (AKA 'Critters').
One more reason to avoid the toilet. Might be a Flukeman down there.
"Hear my tale; it is long and strange ... "
Withered lips utter these words. The speaker's face seems nothing more than a rotting mask of skin, barely stretched into place over sinew and vein. Wild, black hair cascades down the figure's massive shoulders, and gleaming eyes stare out through the tangled strands. Tattered garments adorn his towering frame.
Read more in "How Frankenstein's Monster Works."
"Look what we found in the park, in the dark! We will take him home, we will call him Clark. He will live at our house; he will grow and grow! Will our mother like this? We don't know."
Can science explain this Suessian nightmare? Find out in this Monster of the Week post.
Watch where you're going in that dungeon! You might walk into a deadly Gelatinous Cube.
The Tyranid Genestealer is such a delightful monster. In fact, I actually profiled it twice, first in an exploration of natural-world gene theft and more recently in terms of its parasitic life cycle.
Ghoulies. They get you in the end, and this post is all about how we evolved to fear them.
Trolls! How do they work? Find out in this Monster of the Week post.
The holidays are dark and full of terrors. Meet a few of them right here.
"Oh god, Harlequin, do not move like that! Harlequin, where are your arms?"
Horrify yourself in this Monster of the Week post...
You know better than to wander the cemetery at night, yet here you are, strolling a landscape of weathered granite and dying flowers. Learn all about these corpse-munching denizens of the tomb in "How Ghouls Work."
Also, explore the human evolutionary history of scavenging and cannibalism in Monster of the Week: The Scavenging Ghoul.
Medusa the gorgon may seem purely magical, yet there's some science to be had here. Read Monster of the Week: Medusa.
Why does Jason slaughter all those sex-crazed teens? Find out in Monster of the Week: Jason Voorhees.
Why does Michael Myers keep playing dead? Read about it in this Monster of the Week post.
Break lent this year? Watch out or Rougarou the Cajun werewolf will come for you. All the details are right here.
Get lost in the maze and consider the symbolic power of the minotaur in this Monster of the Week post.
How can a dessicated corpse return to life and terrorize the living? Find out in Monster of the Week: The Mummy.
Don't fall for the sexy monster this time around. Read Monster of the Week: Incubi and Succubi for all the details...
Yes, there's actual science to be had here! Read all about it in "How Mogwai and Gremlins Work."
The graboids of "Tremors" will get you when you least expect it. Learn all about them in "How 'Tremors' Graboids Work."
The nightmare might seem like a demonic force, but science has an answer in this Monster of the Week post.
Who are the shadow people? Find out in this Monster of the Week post.
Slither your way into our hearts, won't you? Explore all the slug-based horror in Monster of the Week: The Long One ('Slither').
Ah, Robot Monster... Are you more monster than robot? Is that just a suit? This Monster of the Week post has a theory or two.
Where did the Creature from the Black Lagoon's scales and gills go? The answer awaits you in this Monster of the Week post.
Ah, if it isn't Wilbur Whateley from H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror," profiled here in my "Top 10 Wizarding Fails" article over at HSW. Poor guy...
You may know him as Fluffy the Crate Dweller, or simply "the thing in the crate." As detailed in the 1982 documentary "Creepshow," this curious six-legged primate makes its home in an old wooden crate, occasionally emerging to gobble human victims whole. Learn all about the beast right here.
Consider if you will: A rare but recurring killer hoards human corpses and coats them in wax for display in a museum of wax mannequins. Naturally, our sinister sculptor also employs a wax mask himself to cover his facial disfigurements. Learn all about his natural-world relatives in this post.
At first glance, the Tall Man might not seem all that monstrous at all. After all, he's just an unnaturally tall mortician with a penchant for processing human corpses into undead slave labor.
Live and let live, right?
But the Tall Man - or at least the entity that assumed the guise of Jebediah Morningside - is quite extraterrestrial and inhuman in origin. Think of him as the royal center of an undead colony or hive. Learn more right here.
If these aliens had stuck around longer, they might have realized they're not the only all-male species on earth. Just consider the Corbicula genus of freshwater clams, which contains several all-male species. Read about it in "Monster of the Week: Husbands From Outer Space."
Thunder's skill set might seem rather mundane in comparison to his fellow magic-users, at least at first. When not massacring gang members in the streets of China Town, he mainly gives guided tours of the Wing Kong Import-Export Trading Company, interrogates interlopers and attends to his master. But Thunder possesses one more notable skill: When the going gets tough, he inflates his body and explodes in a burst of green goo and chunks.
At first this might seem nonsensical, but it all crystallizes when we look to natural world biology. Read "Monster of the Week: Thunder of the Three Storms."
Such behavior from unnatural zombies isn't out of keeping with natural-world biology. For a potent example of real-life stink stealth, we turn to the world of silverfish. Read about it in "Monster of the Week: The Odorous Zombie."
Let's consider Baphomet, a monstrous deity that emerged from the 14th century heresy trials of the Knights Templar. Read all about the great goat in this Monster of the Week post.
Many unnatural creatures revel in human decapitation. From the hatchet-wielding headless horsemen of the West to Gashadokuro, the starving skeleton of Japanese mythology, the impulse to slice or gnaw a person's head off seems universal. Explore the science behind this grisly deed and its connection to the world of flies in this Monster of the Week post.
The Garthim appear to be a mixture of beetle and crab anatomies, though closer inspection reveals them as bipeds with supporting tentacle-like appendages. One arm terminates in a vicious crab pincher, while the other boasts a fingered claw for snatching up prisoners. Learn all about them in this Monster of the Week post.
As interesting as their cultures are, there's another Gelflings divide worth considering: the dimorphic divide of gender. What are we to make of the wingless male Jen and the winged female Kira? Learn all about it in this Monster of the Week post.
There's much we don't understand about Godzilla, but this Monster of the Week post explores his massive size and radiation-based diet.
Whether contemplating the Grinch or Grendel, the scenario is much the same. Explore the mythic connections as well as the curious biology of everyone's favorite humbugging monster in this Monster of the Week post.
I trust you're familiar with the krampus: a species of alpine snow demon famous for its peculiar custom of terrifying, beating and kidnapping naughty children each and every December. Now let's explore the science behind their brutal ways in this Monster of the Week post.
The islands of the South Pacific are home to countless natural wonders - as well as a few unnatural ones. Monster Island tends to grab most of the headlines with its rampaging kaiju, but the isle of Matango offers an even more insidious horror. Let's explore in another Monster of the Week post.
We've covered demons here before on Monster of the Week, but never the Devil himself. In keeping with this week's episode on Satanic Panic, I thought we should change that. The physical manifestations of the horned one are too many and varied for one post, so let's focus on the above specimen from Michael Pacher's 15th century painting "Saint Wolfgang and the Devil." Read all about it right here.
Where does the sphinx come from and is it the perfect mascot for science? Find out in this Monster of the Week post.
In "Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book," the good doctor takes us on a journey through the Kingdom of Sleep, introducing us to such fantastic sights as the Bumble-Tub Club dreamers and the Curious Crandalls. The long-tailed Chippendale Mupp, however, presents the most intriguing specimen for our scientific consideration. Read all about it right here.
The unnatural world undulates with monstrous deception. Every familiar face may well prove a clever mask for some unspeakable horror. The world of Eärwa, detailed in R. Scott Bakker's excellent "Second Apocalypse" saga, is no exception to the rule. Let's explore the science of the Consult skin spy...
A monstrous, bathing vixen who absorbs virgin blood through her skin to retain her youth? Meet the legendary Blood Countess Báthory and explore the actual science underlying the folklore...
Let's explore the tailed anatomy of Calibos from 1981's "Clash of the Titans," as well as his pack of giant scorpions. It's all right here.
The face dancers play a devious game in Frank Herbert's "Dune" novels, but how might the anatomy of an artificial humanoid shapeshifter actually work? Two theories explore...
The sandworms of "Dune" stand out as purely alien creatures on an alien world, and yet we have two compelling models of how they might work in the light of terrestrial biology.
What happens if "the Thing" wins? The predominate theory, of course, is that of global pandemic - that the organism would assimilate all life on Earth in a mere three years. It's certainly a worst-case scenario, but one that jives with our understanding of infectious agents in the natural world. But I'd like to explore another possibility based in the reality of social parasitism. Let's explore...
Most fittingly, this hotel horror reminds us of the common bed bug Cimex lectularius. Males of this species engage in traumatic "extragenital insemination," utilizing a specialized hypodermic phallus to pierce the female's abdominal wall and ejaculate directly into her body cavity.Read more in "Monster of the Week: The Addiction Demon (AHS)."
For starters, catbus is alone among 12-legged mammals, though you do find invertebrates with this limb count - such as the daphnia genus of planktonic crustaceans and juvenile symphylans (AKA pseudocentipedes). But other vertebrates? Forget about it. Read more in "Monster of the Week: Catbus."
Fox spirits or hulijing (???) play a host of curious roles within Chinese folklore. Just as their appearance shifts from an ethereal, multi-tailed fox to a beautiful woman, so too does their very nature depend on your societal vantage point. Read more in "Monster of the Week: The Chinese Fox Spirit."
Goro's physiology may fly in Outworld, but how does it match up to Earthrealm's natural-world biology? What's the deal with that extra pair of arms? Find out in "Monster of the Week: Goro the Shokan."
It's a rough universe out there and any self-respecting planet needs a a giant robot/monster to defend it against robeasts, kaiju and mechs. In this monstrous arms race, you'll find few combatants more fearsome that Gurion, that blade-headed slicing machine that protects the destitute counter-Earth planet of Terra. Read more in "Monster of the Week: Guiron, Foe of Gamera."
The most dangerous member of the Texan cannibal clan, Leatherface is known for his love of sledge hammers and chainsaws, but his nickname stems from the various human skin masks he dons. Sure, you'll find direct connections between this fictional proto-slasher and the world of true crime, but what of animal parallels? Read more in "Monster of the Week: Leatherface & Hermit Crabs."
Given our previous look at the Consult skin spies of R. Scott Bakker's excellent "Second Apocalypse" saga, let us now consider the peculiarities of this undying and tragic race. Read all about them in "Monster of the Week: The Nonmen of Eärwa."
While the incubus and succubus are western creatures, their kin exist throughout the unnatural world of myth and folklore. As such, Chinese tradition provides us with the haunting Wutong spirits, literally "the five penetrating ones." Read more in "Monster of the Week: The Wutong Shen."
The Idiran-Culture War was a major event in the sci-fi novels of Iain M. Banks. The devastating conflict pitted the AI-administrated transhumans of the Anarcho-utopian Culture against the warlike Idirans. You can only fault the tripedal aliens so much, however, considering their brutal path to interstellar supremacy. Read more in "Monster of the Week: Idiran Biological Immortality."
I know what you're thinking: What natural-world organism could possibly emulate this infernal breeding plan? What creature outside of Hell would seduce a member of another species, steal its sperm and then use the seed for its own diabolical purposes? Find out in "Monster of the Week: Succubi, Ants & Sperm Theft."