Scary monsters and super creeps

I like stuff that falls between categories, and creatures with motivations difficult to comprehend.Here are four of my favorites. This is not the list of Comprehensible Scary Humanoid Monsters. It's the list of Holy Shit What Does It Want-Humanoids, which is not quite the same thing.

Without further ado:

1. The Grinning Man, a.k.a. Indrid Cold



“He was strangest guy we’ve ever seen… He was standing behind that fence. I don’t know how he got there. He was the biggest man I ever saw. Jimmy nudged me and said, ‘Who’s that guy standing behind you?’ I looked around and there he was… behind that fence.  Just standing there. He pivoted around and looked right at us… then he grinned a big old grin.”

- The Mothman Prophecies, John A. Keel

I first encountered this figure through Fortean journalist extraordinaire John A. Keel. A large man, usually unremarkable except for the fact that he has a wide, inhuman grin plastered across his face. Known alternately as Indrid Cold and the Grinning Man, he was said to be either an alien, the Mothman or some other entity. Good rundown of the legend here.  Keel believed, among other things, that our planet is populated and visited by entities whose motivations we are incapable of understanding. This is why aliens, fairies and weird strangers seem to do things that make absolutely no sense: they are so different from us that we can't grasp their logic. The grinning man's smile is terrifying because we have no idea what he's grinning at.

Other dapper gentlemen of note: The Smiling Man, The Gentlemen, Men in Black

Recommended reading: John A. Keel's books The Mothman Prophecies and Strange Creatures From Time and Space

2. Lamassu (well, it has a human head)

Maybe it's because of that time when I was fifteen and read H P Lovecraft and Zecharia Sitchin back-to-back with Fields of the Nephilim playing on repeat in the background -  but Mesopotamian gods in general unnerve me. The lamassu, who are really supposed to be protective deities - good guys, in other words - creep me out most of all. Is it the square beard? The hat? The image of them striding across the plain with a noise like thunder? I don't know, but something about them is just profoundly alien.

The staring lamassu at the British Museum.

Once, when I visited British Museum, I was looking for a specific room but couldn't find it. Instead I kept ending up in front of the two enormous lamassu. As soon as I turned a corner - BAM. Lamassu, staring at me. It was the kind of terrible that makes people claw at their chests and faint.

(Later finding out that carved into the base of one of these beasts was the oldest board game in the world helped a little. The image of a winged bull patiently letting bored guard play games on its plinth is less than frightening.)

3. Slender Man


The Slender Man is a work of fiction, of course. The awesome thing about the figure is that it pushes enough buttons to feel like old mythology, and it's a group effort: people all over the world keep adding to the mythos. A creature both alien and vaguely familiar, something that's been around for a very long time ... and whose motivations humans can't comprehend. I first encountered the Slender Man through the Youtube found-footage series Marble Hornets, and then fell down the creepypasta rabbit hole. At the moment I'm going through the archives of the SCP Foundation, pleasantly scared half to death. (It helps if you scare easily. I do. I'm a wimp.)

4. BOB

If you look at BOB's backstory, it's pretty straightforward: evil spirit from the evil realm of evil possesses humans to make them do evil stuff. However, that's not what it was like when you first saw BOB on screen. It looked human, but was fundamentally not. That was my first meeting with this sort of entity. The clip below is the scariest thing I have ever seen on film or TV. It's not quite as heart-stoppingly frightening now that I'm a grownup, but keep in mind that I was twelve years old when I saw it. It is, of course, the scene where Bob crawls over a sofa.

You'll note that these are are male (or male-coded). I've been wondering why that is. It might be because most female humanoids I've found seem to have a clear motivation. For example, demon women from Japanese folklore such as Kuchisake-Onna and Oshiroibaba are scary as all hell, but you can still sort of understand why they do what they do. The category of humanoid monsters with motivations extremely difficult or impossible to fathom, is very often occupied by figures that are male-coded. It seems that female-coded monsters almost invariably come with one or more of a set of qualities associated with "womanhood", while male monsters can also embody qualities that aren't tied to classical gendered issues. Buuut I haven't quite processed those thoughts yet so I'll get back to you on that one.

Okay, that's all for today. Sleep well.