Many people find one of the most enjoyable aspects of Halloween to be the myriad creatures associated with it. Legendary villains such as Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein, and zombies of all stripes emerge on or about October 31st in the forms of costumes, films, and books. America’s tendency to associate such creatures with Halloween is so embedded in our culture that we frequently forget that most of these creatures—or at least the versions of them we best remember—are relatively recent creations that are often less than two centuries old. This series explores the origins and evolution of Halloween’s and Hollywood's best-loved ghouls and beasts.
To date, humans have explored less than 5% of the world’s oceans. Whatever is lying in wait beneath the cavernous dark water is something yet to be discovered. Many scientists speculate that there are creatures such as the giant squid, which live in deep, seemingly endless trenches, hiding in the dark. Can there be other creatures as well—possibly from the Black Lagoon?
In 1941, producer William Alland was attending a dinner party for the classic Citizen Kane, when Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa told him about a myth that involved a half-fish, half-human creature on the Amazon River. Ten years later, Alland wrote a screenplay dubbed The Sea Monster, partially based on the French fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. Following the success of the 3D House of Wax in 1953, Jack Arnold was hired to direct the rewrite of Sea Monster which was now Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Of course, the Monster Mash would make for a perfect picture book. The 1962 novelty song by Bobby Pickett has a great story with lots of kooky characters. It rhymes; it is catchy; and, with illustrator David Catrow at the helm, it is wonderfully grotesque.
Even Monsters Need Haircuts shares the previously untold story of monstrous hairstyling techniques. Our narrator, a young boy, takes detailed notes as his barber father works on people's hair. When night falls, the boy sneaks from his bedroom. A vampire bat named Vlad leads him across town to a special barbershop, one that only serves mummies, ghouls, and all other sorts of beasties!
Jeremy Draws a Monster never gets too scary. The beast in question has some horns and is a bit of a snaggletooth, but his eyes are too tiny to be that threatening. Still, this monster is this one rude dude. Jeremy seemed to just want a friend to play with. He stays inside while other children play soccer. So he takes a fancy pen and draws this creature creation.
I used to have an old Volvo that broke down frequently. The problem was a hose that would fly off of the engine. I always carried a screwdriver which I would use to reattach the hose and go on my way. One morning I was rushing in the door to work after one of these episodes when my supervisor stopped me. “What happened to you?” she asked with concern. I had no idea what she was talking about until I followed her eyes down to my arms and realized that my forearms were covered with black dirt and grease.
I explained about having to fix my car on the way to work, and she just stood and stared at me silently for a very awkward minute. Suddenly she burst into song! “I am woman. Hear me roar. With numbers too big to ignore. And I’ve come too far to turn back and pretend.” She turned to walk away but kept on singing at the top of her lungs. Her song only died away when she turned the corner and went down the other hall.
Right then and there I decided to get a new car.
In the dark of night, a monster approaches Conor’s bedroom window. The massive, human-like gnarl of branches with its thunderous voice fails to frighten the boy. You see, Conor has already glimpsed the source of his personal terror. It lives in his nightmares.
A Monster Calls was written after Patrick Ness used outlines and ideas from the British writer Siobhan Dowd, a Carnegie Medal-winning author who died of cancer in 2007. The final product is a taut, suspenseful reflection on losing a loved one, accompanied by the message to be honest with one’s self.
There's a lot more to Happy Birthday, Monster! than just monsters. Sure, there is a mummy, a skeleton, a vampire, and a ghost involved, but there's an alien and a robot too. That is not a problem. Diversity is great, especially when dealing with guys and gals like these.
This bunch is just looking to have a good time at their friend Doris' (a lizard creature of sorts) birthday. Devilish Ben is throwing the bash, and early on we see him brushing and flossing his teeth... and then brushing and flossing his horns.
The fun of Scott Beck's book is seeing how each of these very different characters interact with each other. The book explores what happens when the ghost slow dances ("You're very light on your feet.") or when the robot falls in love with an ordinary houselamp.
Lurking in the shadows of the Dark Ages is the howling form of Grendel. He is the monster of midnight, the bone-gnasher, the ardent hunter of warriors who strews their bones and howls his fury to the world as he wreaks havoc on the safety of civilization. No hall fire burning brightly, no line of armed men can keep him back when he desires destruction. But as John Gardner tells of Grendel, this was not always so. For the bane of the Hrothgar’s hall has a soul much tormented by his desire for good and fellowship with the humans even as his demonic appearance frightens them into violent action. To them, he is a thing, and so he becomes what they believe him to be--an adversary whose fame has spanned the centuries.