Let the Nightmares Begin!
This will be a new series that I plan to work on. I love mythology. I love horror. Why not look at the intersections of the two? In each of these posts I will look at horrifying gods, goddesses, monsters, ghosts, and demons from mythology by region and rank them by how much they freak me out. Our first region is the East, constituting China, Japan, India, Korea, and Indonesia. Oh yes, we’re starting out strong.
10: Preta- The Hungry Ghosts: Tibet
You know the countdown is intense when these creepy little bastards are at number 10. Formed from the souls of people who have sinned or had negative character traits in life, Hungry Ghosts, or “Preta” as they are referred to in Tibet, They’re small, malformed, vaguely human-like creatures with insatiable cravings for disgusting things such as human corpses, excrement, or rotten food. These spirits can be appeased through ritual should they inhabit a home, however, they spend much of their time in desolate and decrepit regions.
Why are they scary?: Because if you aren’t a good person, you too could become a tiny, malformed, potbelled demon that eats poop. *shudder*
9:Oshiroibaba- The Makeup-Seller from Hell: Japan
This is indeed a case of “Bitch in Sheep’s Clothing”, and it’s sad that not many people have heard of this horrible woman and her terrifying face powder recipe. This is also another reason not to trust people trying to peddle you their makeup, unless of course, they’re from Avon and can show you their certification. You see, Oshiroibaba sells a face powder that is to die for, literally. The stuff will melt your face off. As a person with extremely sensitive skin who wears makeup, this myth makes my skin crawl.
Why is she scary?: I can see that she wouldn’t be scary to men or women that don’t wear makeup, but to a woman who does, this is one of the most horrifying scenarios that can be imagined. Putting something on your face that is supposed to help it, but instead having your face peel off in your hands like that scene from Poltergeist…*cringe*
8: Jiangshi- The Hopping Dead: China
You know what’s more unnerving than something running after you? Something hopping after you, stiff as a board from rigor mortis and out to devour your flesh and blood. Jiangshi, or sometimes called “Chinese Vampires” or “Chinese Zombies” Like Western Vampires, if they infect a living person, that person will slowly become a Jiangshi themselves over time. These gruesome ghouls come in varying states of decay, but almost always have long white hair, are dressed in traditional garments, and are animalistic in nature in a way that one would not expect from a fairly dignified looking creature. However they may look, though, they are unsettling as hell just from how they move…oh yeah, and the fact that their favorite food is people.
Why are they scary?: Although the idea of a flesh-hungry being hopping after you like a kangaroo might seem hilarious, the horror sets in from the fact that they move like this from rigor mortis. Also they can turn you into one of them. Joy of joys.
7: Xing Tian- What a Giant Pain in the Neck: China
Okay, now we’re hitting some serious nightmare fuel. Forget any other mythological giant ever, this guy takes the cake. Aside from being a giant, Xing Tian has the notable distinction of having a face on his stomach. Why? Because the Yellow Emperor really likes taking enemy heads. Rather than give up, and, you know, die, Xing Tian wanted to keep fighting, so he grew a new face on his stomach and continued on his quest to fight against all that is good and fantastic. A grumpy giant is one thing. A grumpy giant with enough will to overcome death just to kick your ass? Meep.
Why is he scary?: Willpower, willpower, willpower. Also he has no head and his face is on his stomach. Also he is evil and hates all things good in the world. This guy is like Sleepy Hollow on roids.
6: Rakshasa- Actually Terrifying Vampires : India
It seems as if the formula for much of the East’s mythology is to take something that is a scary idea and cranking up the horror. The Rakshasa are no exception, being some of the most nightmarish vampires of the entire world’s mythology. A trait that all of the multiple iterations of this creature have are long sharp upward-pointing fangs, insatiable bloodlust, and horrendously ugly looks. Rakshasa have become increasingly common in media, ranging from the King of Naps Kumbakharna making an appearance in SMITE to the decently-horrifying Rakshasi Taraka making your day miserable in Shin Megami Tensei: IMAGINE. However, these depictions do no justice to the original Rakshasas of myth and the artwork depicting them, which is pure nightmare fuel with bloodshot eyes and grins that say, “Pleasure to EAT you.”
Why are they scary?: Violent, horrifying, and bloodthirsty vampires. Need I say more?
5:Tikbalang- The Horse-Man Rapist: The Phillipines
Hide yo kids. Hide yo wife. The Tikbalang is a half-horse, half-man spirit in the reverse fashion of a classic centaur in that their lower body is humanlike, but their head is horselike. In some cases, these spirits are viewed as benevolent protectors of the forest, immensely territorial caretakers at worse. However, in other cases, it is said that a Tikbalang will attack unsuspecting women traveling in the woods alone and violently rape them to produce more of their own kind. This ups their “horrifying” factor high enough to earn them this spot on my list.
Why are they scary?: It commits the single most reprehensible deed that one can commit on a regular basis in order to make MORE of its own kind…that will in turn rape MORE women. This is edging into high-octane nightmare fuel here.
4: Sundel Bolong- Tokophobia Incarnate: Indonesia
As many people who know me well know, I am rather afraid of the idea of childbirth. So many things could go wrong. The mother could die. The child could die. Both could die. The Sundel Bolong is this fear realized and given human shape. The spirit is that of a woman whose child was somehow born by clawing itself out of her back, killing her. She generally prefers male victims and is a sensitive woman…until one breaks her heart. At that point they will be castrated. Although harmless to women, the imagery and nightmare fuel surrounding this woman propels her way up my list.
Why is she scary?: For someone who is afraid of childbirth, like yours truly, this is one of the worst possible images that can be thought up. For men, imagine moving your date’s long beautiful hair out of the way to discover a massive hole in her back. Yeah, not so nice, huh?
3:Penanggal- The…excuse me *retches* *vomits*: Malaysia
Now this vampire makes the Rakshasa look like a tame, cuddly teddy bear. These are women who live normal lives in the daytime, but at night detach their head, heart, lungs, and internal organs from their body and fly through the air in search of human blood. How metal is that? These hideous ladies prefer to feed off of children, babies, and mothers, and those that are bitten by them, rather than becoming a gross head-innard-guts monster become afflicted with a serious disease that is almost always fatal. There is absolutely nothing romantic about these monsters, and that makes them so high on this list. That and they cause any appetite you might have had to be nonexistant.
Why are they scary?: Can you imagine one of these things flying at you? Or better yet, someone turning into one? If you didn’t freak out and run, you’d at least vacate your stomach contents on the spot.
2: Kuchisake-Onna- The Original Jeff the Killer: Japan
Move on over, Jeffy-boy. The REAL killer with a permanent grin was developed in Modern Japan, not on some goofy teenager’s computer. Does this count as mythology? Why not? The Slit-Mouthed Woman tale became SO pervasive at one point that young children were ordered to be escorted home. Kuchisake-onna is fairly modern for this list, but I felt like she deserved a spot here. Why? Because she provides the ultimate case of “heads I win, tales you lose” to her victims. Claim that she is not beautiful, and you get cut in half. Claim that she is beautiful, and she will mutilate your face to look like her’s. It can be said that she can be distracted by answering with “I don’t know”, “You’re average” or “What about me? Am I pretty?”. She also has a penchant for candy and will scramble after it if it is thrown at her. I don’t know, but if I was a horrifyingly ugly woman cursed to make other people ugly or kill them, I’d want some good old fashioned junk food too.
Why is she scary?: That image of the slit mouth, no matter how pervasive it becomes, will always be freakish looking and unsettling. Not to mention, her prey is most often children. That’s right. Kuchisake-onna mutilates children whether they approve of her look or not. That’s messed up.
And the Number One Freakiest Legendary Humanoid Creature of Asia is…
1: Rangda- The Witch to end all Witches: Bali
OH so you thought Baba Yaga was scary? Black Annis gave you nightmares? Rangda the Demon Queen, also known as Rangda the child-eater, is if you took a classic evil witch and cranked the “nightmare fuel” dial up to eleven. This horrifying woman leads an army of witches, demons, and other ne’er-do-wells against the deity of good, Barong. These two fight endlessly for control over humanity. But what happens if Barong manages to best this hideous woman? Oh, she just comes back to life, is all, and keeps fighting. The only thing more terrifying than an evil entity out to eat your family and spread disease, is an evil entity out to eat your family and spread disease that DOES NOT DIE.
Why is she scary?: Just LOOK at her! Imagine that crawling through your window to eat any children in your home, then afflict everyone else with horrible withering disease. Also, if someone manages to kill her, she’ll just bounce right back and start doing it all over again. Nuff said.
Our next list will take us to Europe, specifically the Europe that does not include the British Isles, (that’s for another time). Prepare for more nightmare fuel and sleep tight!