Some people like a good slasher flick, others enjoy Satanic themes, and an annoyingly large segment of the population is still on the torture porn kick. Us? We've always been fond of monsters when it comes to horror films. Jaws, Prophecy, Q, the Host, Cloverfield, that kind of thing. Maybe it's just because we read St. George and the Dragon at a young age, but we like our bad guys huge, otherworldly, and utterly unhuman.
Even though you'd think there's an infinite range of bogeymen from folklore to choose from, Hollywood seems to have run out of good beasts of late. Hell, there are now so many horror movies starring Bigfoot being made that they have their own sub-genre; Sasquatchxplotation. Well, long ago we checked out the Encyclopedia of Legendary Creatures by Tom McGowen from the library, where it was put in the children's section by a sadist because Victor G. Ambrus's illustrations are the stuff that nightmares have nightmares about. Recently, we managed to pick the book back up on eBay, and this seemed like a fantastic time to inflict those images on you by stumping for movies starring...
The hills may have eyes, but the American forests have this freakin' thing. Bay-kok is the original Predator. The emaciated hunter stalked the Chippewa hunters, his rattling bones often being the only warning. He had two ways of stalking people. If you were lucky, he shot you with his invisible arrows or beat you to death with his club.
If you were unlucky he would come across you when you were asleep. In that case, he would cut a small hole in you and start eating your stomach. Days later you would rot to death from the inside out, becoming a bay-kok yourself.
Al? Really With One F? Yes, really. Listen, we know that he looks kind of like a cross between an Ewok and William H. Macy, but the Al is no one you want to mess with. They're Armenian in origin. Some legends have them being the first attempt by God to set Adam up with a mate, and when Adam promptly said, "No way!" the als were cast out of Eden and held a grudge against Eve and her daughters forever after.
They have brass nails and iron teeth. Their big thing was to cut out the organs of pregnant women, who always slept with a knife in the bed just in case of an Al attack. They also could cause babies to be born deformed, or steal them outright to be eaten by the al king. They combine everything that is terrifying about pregnancy and childbirth with the instinctive horror of being eaten.
While the Washer at the Ford is not technically a threat in and of herself, she is still incredibly creepy. The legend originates from Scotland. What happens is this. You're Scottish, and you're walking around in your kilt playing the bag pipes on your way to pick up a haggis because you're mighty hungry after headbutting an English guy when you come to a river crossing and see and old woman doing some laundry in the water.
That's when you notice that the river runs red with blood from the clothes she's soaking. She looks up and you see she only has one eye, one nostril, and one tooth. The feet sticking out from under her skirt are webbed. If she flicks the bloody clothes at you, you are destined to die violently within days. It really wouldn't take a whole lot of Hollywood tinkering to turn the Washer from a mere bad omen into an all out supernatural threat.
You could link it to Scotland's witch hunts. The Scots did things that made Salem's witches look like they got off with a mild scolding and a swat on the fanny.
Exactly what a bunyip was remains a mystery... possibly because they come from Australia where they have so many monsters to choose from just in regular zoology that it's easy to get confused as to exactly which monster is currently attempting to consume your soul. Some described it as a giant starfish, others more like a seal, and then there's this depiction.
They were most common around Lake Alexandria, and their primary method of killing people was to drag them into the water to drown. Their mouths were supposed to be enormous, able to drag most of a man into their jaws, and they could measure as long as 13 feet.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
If anything crawled straight out of Hell to live on the screams of children it's the Whowie. At almost 30 feet in length, the six-legged lizard would crawl into Australian villages at night and eat as many as 60 people whole. It used to stealthily avoid guards set to stop him until he realized he was a god damned dragon fueled by human blood and just started using the guards as appetizers.
It took every tribe in Australia to kill him. They discovered his cave lair, and blocked every entrance but one. At the last opening they built a huge bonfire. The Whowie became enraged, tried to exit the smoke-filled cave, and in the end had to weakly crawl through the fire to escape. He was met by every man who could wield a spear. He bled to death. Hooray for humanity!
Oh wait, no. The Whowie's ghost still hunts, not haunts, hunts the Australian Outback, and now it's immortal since it's already dead. Did we mention that there have been sightings of the whowie as recently as 1968?