Where did all the monsters go?

  • Pinhead
  • Jason Voorhees
  • Michael Myers
  • Freddie Kruger
  • Pumpkinhead
  • The Tall Man
  • Pazuzu

The eighties brought to life some of the most feared and iconic monsters to ever rule the screen and our nightmares. But something happened between then and now to erase the bringing of fear and fright from the silver screen and the printed page.

Toss your Tardis back a few more decades and you’ll find:

  • Dracula
  • Frankenstein
  • Creature From the Black Lagoon
  • The Wolfman
  • The Invisible Man
  • The Phantom of the Opera

Monsters. Those things we loved to fear, loved to hide from. For decades they brought life to our nerve endings and reminded us of our own mortality while tucked in the safety of our own homes or the cinema. But something changed. Over the years a new monster usurped the Universal Monsters, Hammer Horror, Wes Craven, Clive Barker, and Stephen King. What make of beast could ever be so ghastly as to strip the power from reigning kings and princes of fear?


That’s right. At some point we became the very incarnation of our own fears. You want to be scared? Watch the news. You want to sit back and see a train wreck in twelve dimensions? Catch an episode of Honey Boo Boo. The whole hayride has tipped over and spilled the collective intestines over the back yard, red neck mud slide and we all have to watch as the muck and mire fouls and ferments our Jimmy Choos.

Neither Hollywood nor we writers can come up with anything more frightening than what the human race is doing to itself. Because of terrorism, random gun shootings, ignorance, suffering, and a shifting sense of priorities, the horror monster is no longer… gasp… scary. Mankind is the new beast. We have become our own nightmare. We are the monster in the mirror and reality is beaming that frightening reflection back in haunting fear-orama. The Universal Monster has been replaced by the likes of Saw, Hostel, and High Tension — films that do little but highlight the truth of the human animal. That disturbing truth is simple: The monster was within us all along, only now has it been fully and willingly unleashed upon an almost apathetic society. And to make matters worse, all of the exposure to this unfortunate truth has desensitized us to the fantasy. Pinhead and Michael Myers are no longer the stuff of nightmares. Those iconic monsters have been replaced by mothers who lock their babies in cars when it’s three hundred degrees in the shade and men who dress as super villains and shoot innocent movie-goers in the cinema.

Those trends will not end well.

I want to get back to that time of innocence, where a writer or movie maker can fill the viewer’s and reader’s hearts with fear and dread and transport them to a darker, more cathartic place without having to defer to the daily news for inspiration. I want the mere thought Pazuzu to make adults and children alike want to hide under their covers and refuse to turn their lights off at night. I want theatre of the macabre, disturbing imagery and haunting orchestral themes. I want visceral, hell-born horror where a Universal Monster is just as likely to become a meme as is anything that begins with the word “honey”.

How do we do that? We (the purveyors of fear) do everything we can to dig deep into the wells of our imagination and bring to life newer and more frightening realms of the fantastique. We craft monsters forged in the pits of reality that touch on topics near and dear to the fabric of society. We need to get ahead of the curve and remind movie goers and readers that we know best what scares them. It’s time to kick reality in the junk, say NO to Honey Boo Boo and remind society that we are always lurking under their beds, waiting for the right moment to “tear their souls apart.”

And more than that — we need to flex the muscles of our creativity and create new iconic monsters to cause the masses to lose control of their bladders and shiver in their own sauce. Knowing my fellow horror writers like I do, this should not be a problem. We know where all the monster went and we know how to bring them back.