Creatures of the night haunt October, bringing in the horrors of Halloween to everyone’s front step. From scary movies to candy galore, nothing starts up the pumpkin mood better than “spoopy” monsters. Originally made on Tumblr, the word “spoopy” is a term meant to satirize spooky after it was accidentally misspelled, making it cute and adorable. So take a tour on the creepy, the horrifying, the cute, the sexy, and the grotesquely gruesome monster hunt across the globe.
Skeletons and the undead lore of Mexico come from a popular holiday known as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Strangely enough, this holiday is a combination of indigenous customs of Aztecs and Catholicism. While the Day of the Dead is a day of celebration, it is also a time where the dead awaken to visit the living world. With the holiday having Aztec roots, there are definitely a lot of darker origins to this happy time of laughing at death with the use of cute calacas (skeletons) and calaveras (skulls). During the time of Aztec rule, spanning from 1345-1521 CE, gods ruled over the people and in return for gifts and rites of passages, rituals involving cannibalism and sacrifice were heavily imbued in the culture.
The two most prominent figures of the Aztec underworld are Michlantecuhtli and Mictlantecuhtl. Michlantecuhtli is the Aztec god of the dead and is associated with owls, spiders, and bats. He meets all the souls in the underworld on their journey to judgement. Appearance-wise, the god is described as a skeleton or a man covered in bones. He wears a skull mask, has a necklace of eyeballs, wears a costume of owl feathers, and has dark, curly hair. Mictlantecuhtl is the goddess of the dead, symbolizing creativity and destruction and is known as the “Devourer of Man.” Created after being sacrificed as an infant, the goddess makes sure to watch over the bones of the dead and overlook festivals in her name. As for her appearance, she can either be described as a voluptuous woman with skulls adorning her body or as a de-fleshed woman with rotting flesh and jaw agape.
In the far northern parts of North America and Canada, the creature known as the Wendigo resides. Its lore comes from the Algonquian and Inuit tribes, and in the Algonquian language, Wendigo literally means “evil spirits that devours mankind.” These creatures are demonic spirits who possess humans and turn the host into cannibals. A person can either be possessed by a demon or eat the flesh of humans to become a Wendigo. They roam the woods and forests, located in the coldest areas of the wilderness where food is scarce.
The Wendigo has a couple of distinct appearances. One is described as being 15-feet tall with beast-like features, glowing eyes, long canine teeth and an extremely long tongue. The other form, most likely tied in with the lore of possession, is human-like with a tall, gaunt figure, sunken eyes, and yellow-decaying skin. Both types have stag-like horns and has an unending hunger for human flesh. These creatures heal quickly and have enhanced senses to help them hunt for their prey. They also have supernatural abilities such as weather changing and summoning other monsters. The only way to kill a Wendigo is with silver and it takes a list of steps. First it must be staked through the heart with silver, then it must be dismembered with a silver axe and the remains need to be salted and burned.
The Northeastern part of the United States brings the lore of the Rake, a creature closely related to Slenderman. First being shown in a creepypasta (internet horror stories circulating from forums and sites), the Rake began to pop up in other parts of the world after accumulating data through notebooks and literary entries. It is documented to have been sited back to the 12th century and spanning across four continents.
The Rake is a nighttime creature described as a pale and humanoid feature, usually six feet tall and always in a crouching position with no nose and large black eyes. While its mouth seems small, it can unhinge to the neckline, with hundreds of blunt teeth within. It has an unknown diet and is specifically a suburban monster. The Rake perches near their human victims as they sleep and usually tells the victims to leave. If the demands are not met or there are continuous visits, the Rake will kill the victim while they sleep.
The Werewolf, one of the most iconic monsters, comes from the 2nd century of Ancient Greece. Its first appearance came from the story of Lycaon, a cruel king of Arcadia who was cursed by Zeus after he sacrificed a child to the Olympian god. These origins make the European lore of Werewolves synonymous with a punishment given for crimes of murder, cannibalism, and impiety. Because of this, Werewolves are also tied in with many tales in European tradition, eating humans and essentially being malicious creatures of the night.
This popular monster has a lot of lore dealing with how a person can contract lycanthropy. Drinking water from a wolf’s paw-print, eating wolf brains, and wearing certain flowers are some medieval speculations. The Vikings believed that wearing a wolf’s pelt or skin would create a Werewolf. A few other ways can come from a family curse or making a pact with a devil. As for killing such a beast, silver is the most popular way. Having wolfsbane can ward Werewolves off because it is poisonous to them. Removing the pelt and the use of iron are two ways in which to revert the Werewolf back to human form.
In the Eastern Hemisphere, the Jorogumo haunted the Edo Period (1603-1868) of Japan. It is classified as a youkai, the Japanese term for creature, ghost, goblin, or demon; though the literal translation means apparition, ghost, phantom, or specter. Known as the “binding bride” and the “prostitute spider,” the Jorogumo is closely associated with a real spider called Nephila clavata. The females of this species can get up to a meter in length and is under the genus of orb spiders.
By legend, a Jorogumo is created after a spider lives to be 400 years old and it is able to develop magical powers. Female spiders assume the shape of a beautiful woman and seduce men by bringing them into abandoned places like shrines and old inns while singing or playing an instrument. After tricking men into their nest, the spider demon wraps them into their webs, poisons them, and leaves the men in silk cocoons for later consumption. Another way that the Jorogumo tricks men is by pretending to hold a baby, which is actually a spider egg that burst out hundreds of baby spiders. These monsters reside near waterfalls and lakes, and a way to be able to see through their disguise is by looking at their reflection. A Jorogumo’s reflection shows their true selves as a huge Nephila clavata.
The Nine Tailed Fox, a popular Asian mythos has its own versions depending on the location, and Korea has the malignant Kumiho dating back to 200 BCE. Unlike many of its other Asian counterparts, like the Kitsune of Japan and the Huli Jing of China, the Korean representation of the fox is solely evil and has no sense of morality. It is not a deity to be worshipped, but instead a monster to stay clear of for fear of a gruesome death.
A fox that can live to be 1000 years old will become a Kumiho, giving it the ability to shapeshift. The fox dons the guise of a woman who feasts on human flesh, seducing men and eating their livers or hearts. They are bloodthirsty half-creatures who also dig human hearts out of graves to feast upon. Some legends tell of Kumiho having the ability to permanently turn human through not eating humans for a thousand days, and on the reverse side, turning human after eating a thousand human livers or hearts. To reveal a Kumiho, the use of hunting dogs can sniff out the shapeshifting fox.
The Shui Gui
In China, there is a ghost that can send chills down the spine whenever walking past any body of water. The Shui Gui, translated into “water ghost,” is the spirit of people who have drowned and are trapped in the in-between state of the living and the dead. These tormented spirits lure people into the water so they can drown, and in turn, free the previous spirit. There are two methods in which the Shui Gui uses to ensure its release from the torture of limbo.
The process is known as tis shen, the replacing of a body. The first method is the previous spirit returning to the land of the living while the newly drowned victim becomes the next Shui Gui, awaiting the next hapless fool. The second method had the spirit drown its victim and take their body to come back to the land of the living, while the new victim is stuck in the water to repeat the cycle. Because of this continuous cycle, the Shui Gui represents bad luck and creates dangerous places.
Australia’s abundance in deadly animals also keeps up with its lore and mythical, deadly creatures. The Bunyip is a mystical lake monster and translates from the Aboriginal language as a devil or spirit. First appearing in the 19th century, this bloodthirsty creature dwells in swamps, riverbanks, rivers, and wells. They devour animals and people at night that are too close to their dwelling. Particularly fond of the sweet flesh of women and children, Bunyips warn victims of their impending death through screeching and howls.
Lore of the Bunyip varies drastically with its supposed appearance. Some have horse-like tails, flippers, and walrus-like tusks or horns and some can be oversized snakes with long hair or manes of fur. Others are feathered or scaled like crocodiles with a dog-like face, crocodile-like heads or bodies, and dark fur. They can be enormous or the size of a large dog. Creepier versions of the Bunyip are half-human creatures with long necks and bird-like heads.
Spanning from 3100 BCE, Egyptian religion based itself upon many different gods and goddesses, some human in form and others with beastly features. Ammit is the female demon of ancient Egyptian religion and her name translates to “devourer” or “soul-eater.” Ammit is a funerary deity and even though she is described as a demon and not worshipped, she is a force for order, enforcing good and warding off evil. As the “devourer of the Dead” and “Eater of Hearts,” Ammit is defined through her ability to give judgement to souls and bring retribution to the dead.
Ammit is a form of chimera which is a mythical creature combined with a variety of creatures. She has the head of a crocodile, torso of a wild cat which usually is depicted as a lion, and the hindquarters of a hippopotamus. Each part of the Ammit represents the three largest “man-eaters” of ancient Egypt, and because of her ties with death, she is the personification of the people’s fear of their inevitable end.
In Latin America, more specifically Puerto Rico, the legend of the Chupacabra was born. Derived from the Spanish word of “goat-sucker,” the Chupacabra was named this specifically because they were reported to drinking the blood of livestock. Rather than leaving two holes in the wound entry, the monster leaves three distinct holes. These reports span from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Southwestern United States, China, Russia, and the Philippines. Strangely enough, the Chupacabra lore is tied in with gargoyles of medieval Europe.
Various sighting have given the Chupacabra many different appearances, some similar and others drastically different. They can be bear-like, dog-like, rodent-like, and reptile-like. The ones described as doggish have hairless bodies with a prominent spinal ridge, sunken in eye sockets, and jagged fangs and claws. If it is of the rodent-like description, the Chupacabra has leathery/scaly skin with a greenish gray tone, quills down the back. The reptilian version is a bi-pedaled creature, three feet to a meter tall with short gray hair of spikes running down the spine. All of the forms smell of sulfuric decaying flesh and communicates through screeches and hisses.