Monsters

Vampire Clinic, Part 1

Vampire legends are a global phenomenon, and the trope of the blood-sucking humanoid shows no signs of vanishing from human traditions. But can we trace its origins back to any specific diseases and medical symptoms? In this blood-stained episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick haul up the vampire’s casket and look for signs of rabies, syphilis, dermatitis, tuberculosis and more.

From the Vault: Ghoul

If your fictional diet contains significant quantities of horror or dark fantasy, then you've likely encountered the ghoul: a scavenging, grave-robbing race of unnatural beings with an insatiable hunger for the dead. As Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore in this episode, the roots of ghouldom sink back into pre-Islamic Arabic folklore -- as well into the distant evolutionary history of humanity itself. (Originally published October 29, 2015)

The Great Basilisk

Behold the Great Basilisk, the crowned monster whose mere glance can kill a mortal and reduce wilderness to desert ash. Medieval bestiaries attest to its might, but today some futurists dread its name as an all-powerful malicious artificial intelligence. Will it imprison all those who oppose it within a digital prison of eternal torment? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick consider the horror of Roko’s Basilisk. 

Jenny Greenteeth: Horror at the Water’s Edge

According to certain English folktales, a vile creature lurks in the slime-caked dark of local ponds. When little ones wander too close to shore, she lashes out to drown them in her slippery embrace. She has many names: Nelly Longarms, Peg Powler, the Grindylow... and Jenny Greenteeth. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick discuss these old tales of aquatic terror, their instructional nature and the real-world predators who swim the shores in search of terrestrial prey. 

Unicorns of the Mythic World

Jorge Luis Borges tells us that the oldest unicorn legends are nearly identical to the most recent ficitonal treatments -- but why is that? Why is the notion of a sacred, one-horned horse so resilient in human culture? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for a look at the history of global unicorn myths and legends. Plus, don't be shocked if a satyr shows up. 

From the Vault: Myth-Fleshed Fossil

Are the fossilized monsters of paleontology and the fantastic monsters of myth one and the same? Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they discuss the realm of of geomythology, entailing the possible ancient real-world origins of dragons, griffins, giants the cyclops and other wonders. (Originally published Jun 28, 2016)

From the Vault: Mind Flayers

If you've watched Stranger Things 2, then you know another beloved Dungeons and Dragons monster pops up as an analogy for an extra-dimensional menace: the mind flayer. Join Robert and Christian for the 2016 episode 'The Body Illithid: Science of the Mind Flayers,' in which they explore the real-world science behind these tentacled, brain-sucking monsters.

The Monstrosity/Cuteness Spectrum

It seems the unavoidable fate of all terrifying monsters, doesn’t it? We reduce the most horrifying creatures of myth, legend and folklore to an adorable kids costume or a mega-cute illustration. Why can’t we help ourselves? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the battle between cuteness and monstrosity, with examples drawn from Japanese traditions.

The First Monster

Humans love monsters, but when did we first dare to dream up bestial hybrids and chimerical horrors? In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, Robert and Joe consider the 35-40 thousand-year-old Löwenmensch statues. Who created these images of lion-headed men? What do they represent and what do they reveal about human cognition?

Science of It: Deadlights and Derry

If you’ve read Stephen King’s “It” or recoiled in fear from the 2017 film and the 1990 miniseries, then perhaps you’ve wondered what science can reveal about Pennywise the Dancing Clown and the horrors of Derry, Maine. Join Robert and Christian as they consider the monster science of the creature itself and various, real world explanations that grown-ups might turn to for a town gone bad.