6 Monsters to Keep You Up at Night

I heart monsters. Truly, madly, deeply – love monsters.

My favorite are the kind that only kids can imagine – you know, the the ones lurking under beds and behind closets? Usually slimy with dozens of eyes and big sharp shark teeth?

When I was a young warthog, I used to imagine a whole parade of monsters coming out of my closet and marching past my bed. I was convinced that if I opened my eyes and peeked out from under the blankets, they would eat me.

Somehow, this made it difficult to sleep.

From the photo album

Now that I’m a grown-up, I’m 99% confident that the only things in my closet are dusty scarves and old skirts and moths. (AHHH.)

But I still have a fascination with monsters. There’s nothing that can mesmerize me more than a good old-fashioned scarytimes monster.

Just for you, I’ve written about 6 favorite monsters that thrill me every time. Now they can keep you up at night, too. You’re welcome.

Why don’t we look under the bed together? You go first.

Amazing art by the talented Goro Fujita


If you were a kid in the 90s and owned a SNES, then there’s a good chance you’re familiar with this bizarre yet awesome Japanese RPG. I will someday post at length about this game, by which I mean this Thursday. 

But today I’m just going to say that the final boss Giygas has some of the most terrifying dialogue to ever occur in a video game. You may have heard about this before, because the horrifying nature of this dialogue has reached viral meme status. (By which I mean that Cracked likes to talk about it – and by the way, Cracked is almost certainly run by SNES-owning children of the 90s.)

Shigesato Itoi, the mastermind behind Earthbound, infamously patterned Giygas’ dialogue in the game after a certain childhood trauma that occurred when he accidentally went into the wrong theatre and saw a movie entitled The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beauty. This movie traumatized Itoi so much that he just HAD to put dialogue/elements of it in the final battle, thereby paying his trauma forward for all the little children who played the kid-friendly Earthbound.

This means that Giygas – the big bad alien guy that plunged your entire world into chaos – basically spends the entire boss battle begging you not to hurt it anymore. Because his dialogue is essentially the same as the victim in a horror movie which has Dismembered Beauty in the title.

Also, there’s something wonky going on with the Giygas art, which has been theorized to be everything from a fetus to a boob. I don’t know. But this interview of Itoi discussing the infamous dialogue suggests that it is, in fact, a boob. /learning


I rewatched Spirited Away a couple days ago. IN THE NAME OF RESEARCH. Wherein I learned many important things, such as that I still love this movie, and that it’s probably the best animated movie I’ve seen in my entire life, and that I might like it even more than Finding Nemo and The Iron Giant combined.

I love No Face. His character design is so strong that he can just stand there, and I instantly know what he’s about and what he wants. And the parts that I don’t know I want to know. Because he succeeded in intriguing me.

For me, the best monsters make it about you. Giygas accomplishes this by suggesting that you’re the bad guy. Now, I know that No Face has a message about greed somewhere in there, but for me the more potent message has always been that we all have a No Face. We all have a part of ourselves so desperate for love and affection, we will poison ourselves to get it. No Face’s desperation for love is palatable, especially in those beginning scenes where he doesn’t even say anything.

Spirited Away actually has a bunch of great monsters. Before re-watching the movie, I was originally going to write about Yubaba. As a kid, Yubaba scared me more than No Face – personally, I think there’s something uniquely scary about Yubaba to children, as she inhabits such a twisted mentor/mother role. And she has a huge head.

Mostly it’s the huge head


Yes, I liked the monster from Super 8! Okay, hear me out. Like a lot of people, I found the ultimate reveal disappointing, at least in terms of monster design. I don’t want to spoil it for people, but I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I liked the 1st half of the movie better than the 2nd half (and that Super 8 often feels like 2 distinct movies).

Nonetheless, I think Abrams did the monster really well. Why? Well, the monster in that movie is not really the thing that eventually shows up eating people. No, the monster is Super 8 is a conglomeration of bad things that happen to the main character – his mother’s death, his father’s aloofness, fighting with his best friend, having a crush on a girl who can only be described as the Juliet to his Romeo – things that are, for the most part, outside of his control.

At the end of the movie, the main character gives a little speech about how bad stuff happens. And it’s okay. Bad things happen.

Also? That movie has some killer suspense. Seriously.

That’s it for this 1st installment! I will pick up the trail next Monday with 3 more monsters to give you the willies. (Thursday is a post about the SNES game Earthbound.)

But before then – 

What do you think of my choices? Do any of these monsters interest/scare/thrill you?

What would YOU pick? What are some of YOUR favorite monsters?

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  1. I love the sound of Giygas. That’s really made me think. Like you say, that’s a great twist, making the viewer into the bad guy.

    • Yeah, you actually feel kind of awful the whole time…it’s a very surreal experience! Very different from most boss battles in video games.

  2. That No Face certainly looks freaky! I’d have to say my fave monsters would be Bumpy and Squishy from Bump in the Night and I really liked the cast of Disney’s Monster’s Inc. – it was just such a neat concept, the monsters actually making a living off of scaring people and powering their world using screams!

    • Oh, I love Monster’s Inc! I’m pretty sure the art from Goro Fujita is concept art from Monster’s Inc.

      I’ve never seen Bump in the Night, but based on Google research, it seems like My Kind of Thing. Definitely intrigued!

  3. It’s one of my eternal shame that I never really played Earthbound, despite being a child in ’90s. This mistake will be corrected soon.

    And I really, really want to watch Spirited Away again. It’s one of those movies I barely remember, but I know I loved so MUCH!

    • I’m pretty sure you can play it on an emulator, but I am not computer-savvy enough to have an emulator…also, if you have any old SNES lying around! It’s a pretty rad game, if I do say so myself. Definitely made with a sense of humor.

      I re-watched Spirited Away for the first time in years, and I was not disappointed! Such a great movie.

  4. I love Spirited Away!!! Let’s see favorite Monster- Swamp Thing (the original) and the mutant sheep from Black Sheep

    • Yay for Spirited Away! I really really really really really like really want to read some Swamp Thing, I’ve heard it’s soooooo good, and my old writing professor Scott Snyder (American Vampires for the win!) is writing the rebooted Swamp Thing. So I am excite.

      Okay, according to Wikipedia, this Black Sheep movie is A THING THAT I MUST SEE

      Might be even better than Ankle Biters, about vampire dwarfs: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0344843/

  5. Gotta love the Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth. Especially when he gasps. Geez. I really have been meaning to see Spirited Away for some time time and now I think I for sure will.

    • I love the Pale Man! He may, um, *cough* show up in the next installment!

      Definitely see Spirited Away. I highly recommend it!

  6. I love Hayao Miyazaki films! He creates the most interesting monsters and creatures (and heros and villians and lands…)

    Popping in to say “Hi” to a fellow campaigner. I also follow you on twitter now too, so I can know what you’re up to! 🙂

    • Hello! Thanks for popping in! Have some tea while you’re here. 🙂

      Miyazaki really does create the most interesting monsters! Such great character and monster design.

  7. I love Spirited Away. *Sigh* It has been far too long since I’ve seen it. And your thoughts on the real monster from Super 8 are brilliant. I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but I think you are 100% right.

    I’m in your Fantasy group from the Campaign, and I look forward to getting to know you! 🙂

    • Nice to meet you! Thanks for stopping away! Looking forward to getting to know you as well. 😉

      Isn’t Spirited Away dreamy? *swoon*

  8. Monsters can be a lot of fun. I just posted on Mbuwn from the Relic novels. The more original, the more intriguing I find them.

  9. I love the critters in Where The Wild Things Are.

    I tagged you in a get to know you Write Campaign game. Come and play if your monsters will allow.


  10. What a fun topic! I’m always eerily creeped out by the Dementors in HP, and the Djinn from Supernatural was pretty cool/scary too. If we’re doing monsters/villains, one of my favorites for “cool and creepy” is Saladin from The Forever King by Warren Murphy and Molly Cochran.

    • Oh yes! LOVE the Dementors in HP. Always thought they symbolized depression.

      Supernatural is something I feel like I would really enjoy, but I haven’t started watching it yet. I also want to read The Forever King!

  1. What Earthbound Can Teach Us About Zombies, Aliens and Confidence in Writing « Annalise Green

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