Thursday, May 16, 2013

May Monster Madness Day 6

Once again big thanks to our hosts Annie Walls, Little Gothic Horrors and Wicked Ways Productions.

Everyday this week I'm counting down my favorite monsters.  Today is about the unseen.  Let me explain:

The Stephen King story It was made into a miniseries back in 1990.  I'm typically a really big fan of the miniseries they make out of Stephen King novels.  The Stand is my favorite.  Rose Red is up there as well.  At any rate, in the movie the monster which serves as the namesake of the film comes in a variety of different forms.  From Pennywise the dancing clown to a wolfman to a mummy to "deadlights" which hypnotize and transfix It's victims.  All of these forms are frightening in their own right because they are decided by the thoughts of It's victims.  It's true form, its physical body, is never seen.  Until the end.

This is where It and so many other stories like it fail: the monster can't possibly live up to the fear that's built up to that point.  Something that changes form to fit your particular flavor of fear?  Scary.  A giant paper mache spider?  NOT.  There are countless movies where the audience is scared out of their wits by the idea of a monster- something off screen that kills its victims without showing its face- and then disappointed when that monster shows up looking silly or stupid or downright funny in its failure to produce fear.  It's a huge let down after the build-up of so much suspense.

The best monster, the most disturbing fear, comes from the imagination: from the thing you don't see.  It's the entire reason we're afraid of the dark- who the hell knows what's lurking beyond the light, right?  So this post is devoted to those creatures which are so terrifying that we couldn't even view them on screen.

The Exorcist is the first that comes to mind.  While Regan seems to take on the appearance of a monster as the demon distorts her appearance she herself isn't it- she's possessed by it.  And you can imagine that if she looks this bad then the real thing must be really frightening.  Same thing with Fallen which features a demon so cunning that it can jump from person to person simply by touch.  You never see Azazel but you know it's there when it starts humming its favorite song: Time is on my side.  Those few notes have never been so creepy as when hummed by a stranger standing outside on the street.

Part of what made The Blair Witch Project such a cult classic, in addition to the "found footage" angle, was the fact that you never saw the witch.  In the end when we see Mike standing in the corner awaiting his fate we are unsettled and left wondering, fearing what it was that put him there.  This is the same thing that made the original Paranormal Activity such a mad success.  The demon that ultimately possesses poor Katie is never seen.  We know it has three toes (because we see its footprints in the baby powder) and that it's big (because it lets out a breath on the top of Katie's head) but we never actually see it.  Tiny little cues with our imagination filling in the rest.  Any attempt they could have made to show you the real thing couldn't possibly live up to that unknown dread in your mind.

It's hard to come up with a lot of movies for this list because so many start off with the promise of fear and end in agonizing disappointment when the film makers reveal the monster- dumb, unconvincing and sometimes even sort-of cute (the little guys from Don't be Afraid of the Dark come to mind- boy was that devastating.)  They're never as scary as the evil you can't see.  It's difficult to make a movie about something that you never see but when that challenge is met it tends to have rather spectacular results.  I hope more filmmakers take this challenge because my imagination is ripe with unseen horrors.

What about you?  What are your favorite unseen monsters?  Let me know, I'd love to expand the list!

And once you've let me know, I invite you to hop along and keep the monster lovin' goin'.
1. Annie Walls  16. GingerRead Review  31. Stuff! Also, Things.  
2. Magaly Guerrero  17. Carmen Jenner Author  32. Lexa Cain  
3. Stephen Tremp  18. Book Me!  33. Roland Yeomans  
4. Toni @ My Book Addiction  19. Design du Jour  34. Real Queen of Horror  
5. QueenCicada  20. Not This Time, Nayland Smith  35. Procrastonaut  
6. Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh  21. Shah Wharton  36. Ms Misantropia  
7. Something WicKED this way comes...  22. Tim Brannan, The Other Side  37. Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles  
8. Little Gothic Horrors  23. Holly's Horrorland  38. Dr. Theda  
9. Maynard Morrissey's HORROR MOVIE DIARY  24. Professor Z  39. Jenny's House of Horrors  
10. Kweeny Todd  25. The Beveled Edge  40. TF Walsh  
11. L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off the Edge  26. Candilynn Fite  41. It Came From The Man Cave!  
12. The Dark World of MJ Preston  27. Diane Riggins  42. Voodoo Ghoul  
13. Entertaining Interests  28. Lori Parker  43. The Moon is a Dead World  
14. Emily Unraveled  29. Coffintree Hill  44. KristenHead  
15. Unnatural Selections  30. Tasha's Thinkings  45. Memoirs Of A Scream Queen  


  1. The scariest bits in 'Jaws' are when you can only see the shark's fin, or (thanks to that famous music) you know that it's lurking about somewhere in the murky depths. Same goes for 'The Woman in Black'. It's the glimpses and unexplained noises that freak me out the most. Nothing beats the horrors our imaginations are capable of conjuring up.

  2. The ending of It was a big disappointment.
    While you do see the creature in John Carpenter's The Thing, it's frightening because it could look like anyone or anything. Even the creature at the end isn't really the actual Thing and we never know what it really looked like.

  3. Unseen monsters can be the best! I agree with Little Gothic Horrors that 'Jaws' was scarier because you didn't see the shark that much.

    As for 'Blair Witch' I was a teenager and home alone at night when I first watched it. I had to go into the basement for something later that night, and the light bulb was burned out. Logically I knew there was nothing to be afraid of, but that was still the fastest trip in and out of that basement I ever made!

  4. I watch Rose Red at least once a month, but I take your point about IT, the monster at the end cannot live up to all that suspense and terror it has generated.

    The mention of Jaws is so true, thank goodness the mechanical shark wouldn't work. I also agree with Little Gothic Horrors about The Woman In Black, the scariest bits are in the woods with the half seen ghosts and that mirror in the hallway is used to very good effect as well. The bits where the ghost is right upon Arthur are shocking, but not as scary, it's the build up, the shock of her down the corridor, or in the corner that are the most frightening bits, although they did do very well following through with the monster in that film.

  5. I totally agree with you, especially about It. I wish there had been another way to do the end so it didn't build up and build up and then go fizzle. I still love it, but Pennywise is far scarier than the monster itself. Like my sister said *points up at Soph's comment* Rose Red is a fav; we each have a copy in our respective houses because it's a must :).

    I've always enjoyed The Haunting for unseen things and in this I think they did well in the remake as well. The fact the house moves and the carved children's faces change without seeing them move and the way the curtain wafts from an unseen touch. I thought it was very well done.
    Tasha's Thinkings

  6. Ah yes. The unseen monsters are the scariest of all monsters! They are the monsters in your brain. The monsters you create yourself!

    MMM on Kristen's blog, Day 6: Monster Kitties!!


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