Why Do Monsters From Popular Culture Scare Us So Much?

Image by: Dynamosquito

Humans are great at scaring themselves. There are examples everywhere; from the Y2K bug to superstitious refusals to walk under ladders.

It seems like the common thread that runs through some of the scariest things we have conjured out of our collective consciousness is the idea of a lack of control, over both our environment and the situation we happen to be placed in at that time.

Nothing embodies this sense of gut wrenching powerlessness and vulnerability quite like a big supernatural monster that is trying to kill you.

But apart from the lack of control, there must be some other reasons why we get so terrified of things that we know are not real, right? Well, let’s have a look at some of the more famous scary beasts out there to try and find out.


The Minotaur

The story of this man with the head of a bull is more tragic then terrifying really, but this mythical character must surely have endured throughout thousands of years for some reason.

Minotaur’s mum was cursed by Poseidon into having sexual passions towards a giant white bull on the island of Minos. Despite all of her advances the bull remained steadfastly uninterested, so her husband (being an understanding kind of guy) built her a hollow bull that she could climb inside of. Needless to say, the bull liked it and the result was little Minotaur.

The man-eating Minotaur is scary today because it embodies the idea of mindless brute strength, and as such forms an archetypal monster model that is still used to great effect today.


Pennywise the Clown

From the mind of Stephen King, this monstrous creation almost completely ruined my childhood. Pennywise is an alien who eats people but thinks they taste best when they are full of fear. Therefore it can take the form of whatever its victims fear the most.

However, when this beast is trying to snare children who might not know they should be scared, it takes the form of a particularly grotesque clown in order to lure them closer to it.

As well as being a terrifying embodiment of the “child snatcher” archetype like Freddy Kruger, Pennywise also reveals something else about what we find scary: a completely self interested desire to get what you want with little or no regard for anyone else.


Creepy Children

From Japanese horrors such as ‘The Ring’ to ‘The Exorcist’, children have been used to unnerve the hell out of us in cinemas around the world.

In our culture, children are obviously meant to imply dependence and innocence, so the idea of a child knowing more about a situation then you do and be actively using that knowledge to try and harm you is a really freaky idea.

Imagine that you came home one day and your five year old child had mastered the art of video conferencing in order to plan your birthday. Even though this is essentially a happy thought, it is still a little unnerving though right?

Also, sinister things sound a lot more sinister if heard coming from the mouth of a ghostly pale child that you have just witnessed crawling out of your TV.

I know there are lots more monsters out there that I haven’t mentioned, but I could spend all day doing this and I have other things that need to be done.

So it’s over to you. What monsters instil you with fear and can you think of any more mundane explanations for the shivers they cause in your spine?

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James Duvalis an IT specialist who still occasionally thinks that Pennywise may be lurking around the corner somewhere. When not writing blogs for companies such as Intercall, James likes to ride the countryside on his motorbike and pretend he is out-running some hideous space beast.