Archive for Monday Monster Profile

Monday Monster Profile: Wendigos

Posted in Monday Monster Profile with tags , on May 3, 2010 by gobbets

Wendigo as featured in Supernatural

What is a wendigo?

A wendigo is essentially a cannibalistic supernatural entity. It is typically found in the woods in North America and attacks and eats hikers and campers.

How do wendigos come about?

In some legends a wendigo is a malicious flesh-eating spirit, but in other legends wendigos were once human. It is said that a human that succumbs to cannibalism can be transformed into a wendigo, and is then cursed to haunt the woods eating flesh but never feeling satisfied.

How do I know a wendigo when I see one?

Wendigos possess super-human strength and speed to catch their prey, so you probably won’t have time to identify their features at leisure. However, wendigos are often depicted as emaciated, starving beings – always hungry, yet no matter how much they eat, their hunger cannot be satisfied. If you see a really skinny entity drooling in the woods – run away.

How do I kill it?

Advice varies from the standard use of silver to the more obscure shattering of the heart (some variations of the story involve the wendigo having a heart made of ice). Fire is said to ward it off, but it is uncertain whether burning alive would cause true death. I’d go with burning and shooting with silver bullets followed by dismemberment and further burning – but I’m a cautious sort.

I want to know more!

Algernon Blackwood’s story ‘The Wendigo’ (1910) is a great place to start (but he’s one of my favourite authors so of course I’m going to say that!)

Also check out the 2001 film Wendigo (which merges the myth somewhat with werewold legends)

Wendigos also turn up as an X-File and one is hunted by Sam and Dean in Supernatural.

Marvel comics feature wendigos which comply with some elements of the folklore.

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Monday Monster Profile: Zombies

Posted in Monday Monster Profile with tags , on March 8, 2010 by gobbets

What are they?

Zombies are essentially reanimated corpses. Once they reanimate their hunger for human flesh is usually overwhelming so they attack and eat the living.

What do they look like?

They look like the walking corpses that they are, which means that whatever killed them, whatever their level of decomposition (which often continues even after reanimation), and whatever injury they subsequently receive, they walk around with it. In addition, their desire for human flesh means they usually end up covered in blood and gore. They often sustain injuries from human attacks but, because they are difficult to kill, they keep going with horrific injuries that would have killed a normal human.

Because of the injuries and decomposition, some kinds of zombies can have difficulty moving about, limping around, slowly and lacking coordination. These are generally referred to as ‘slow zombies’. The other kind, ‘fast zombies’, look the same but retain human speed and agility without the inhibitions of fear of injury.

How do people become zombies?

Originally zombies were created by voodoo practitioners, bokor, who had the power to bring the dead back to life, though claims have been made that the people were never actually dead, instead they had been administered a combination of drugs, usually a small dose of tetrodotoxin (the poison found in pufferfish) along with a psychotropic substance in order to produce a death-like dissociative state. However these ‘zombies’ do not eat flesh (they were mainly used as slave labour) and are uncommon today.

Modern zombies are usually the product of a viral outbreak that causes ‘death’ initially, but then reanimates the nervous centres to create a moving corpse, hungry for human flesh. Because the virus is highly contagious, it can be spread through blood and saliva, meaning that victims are driven to ‘bite’ others, who then become zombies as well, infecting others in turn. Outbreaks spread rapidly and if left unchecked can claim entire populations in a very short period (see this academic study of the epidemiological patterns of an outbreak of the zombie virus).

Can only humans be zombies?

Though humans are by far the most commonly affected by zombie viruses, other mammals have been known to fall victim as well. In the case of animal zombies, similar infection mechanisms apply, with the virus sometimes able to spread from species to species.

Is there a cure?

It depends on the virus that causes the outbreak. Some have a companion ‘antivirus’ that if administered in time can either prevent infection or reverse the spread of infection prior to the final ‘zombie’ stage. Usually there is no cure once the person has ‘turned’. Some work has been done on ‘rehabilitating’ victims, with the aim of helping them to be useful members of society. This has had mixed success and appears to hinge on the ability to control the desire for human flesh in some way. In many cases the ‘rehabilitation’ is really a coded form of exploitation and should be considered with a healthy scepticism.

What should I do if a zombie is after me?

Run away if you can. ‘Slow zombies’ can be easy to outrun and outmanouvre and you want to avoid being bitten at all costs. ‘Fast zombies’ are a different story. It is unlikely you will be able to outrun them so your best bet is to take up residence in a defensible position (if you have a Zombie Action Plan, now is the time to activate it – if you don’t – you should! Gobbets will run a feature on making a Z.A.P in the near future). You must kill any zombie that threatens you.

To kill a zombie you must destroy their brain. Shooting is a good method since it allows you to keep at a greater distance, but shooting arrows, or if close quarters are unavoidable edged weapons or repeated bludgeoning to the head will get the job done.

What do I do if I get bitten in the process?

The virus acts quickly, sometimes over a period of just a few hours. If you are aware of an antivirus you need to get to it as soon as possible. But do not assume there is a cure. If you cannot obtain an antivirus in a timely fashion you must take action to isolate yourself from others because once you turn into a zombie you will no longer be able to control your actions and you will attack your companions. In general death is a preferable option to becoming a zombie, and if you stay with others they will in all likelihood be forced to kill you to protect themselves.

I want more information!

Max Brooks’ book “The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead” (2004) is widely considered essential reading.

For reports of outbreaks in other areas, they way they have progressed and been dealt with, see:

Shaun of the Dead

George Romero’s  ‘… of the Dead’ series

The Resident Evil series

28 Days Later and its sequel 28 Weeks Later

Any tips or sources we should be aware of? Comment and add to the Gobbets database!

Monday Monster Profile: Werewolves

Posted in Monday Monster Profile with tags , on March 1, 2010 by gobbets

Werewolves were the winners of last week’s poll so they have the dubious distinction of being the focus of the first Monday Monster Profile:

What are Werewolves?

Werewolves fall into the larger category of ‘shapeshifters’. Specifically, werewolves are humans who are capable of turning into either completely into wolves or into wolfmen (half wolf/half human hybrids). Some werewolves can change shape at will, others can only change during the full moon. It is generally understood that even a werewolf that can change at will must change under the influence of a full moon.

How do I know if I’m looking at one?

When they’re in human form you probably won’t. Unless it is fast approaching full moon, when werewolves in human form have been known to act grouchy, jumpy, depressed or just hyper. In their alternative forms, werewolves will either look like an ordinary wolf (often retaining a ‘human’ look to their eyes), or a very large wolf, or a large, hairy person with wolf-like features (hands, feet, elongated muzzle, pointy ears etc). You should try very hard to be elsewhere at this point.

How does a person become a werewolf?

It seems in some cases it is hereditary, a rare form of lycanthropy where instead of the person just believing they can turn into a wolf they actually do.  Hereditary or ‘born’ werewolves are rare though – most often people become werewolves as a result of being bitten by other werewolves.

Current theories suggest that there is something in werewolf saliva that ‘infects’ the person bitten, and the ‘virus’ begins a period of incubation in the host. During the incubation period, the host commonly suffers from a high fever, increased hunger (often a craving for rare meat) and discovers heightened senses of smell and hearing. After the first full ‘change’ (either at the next full moon or at the end of the incubation period for change-at-will shapeshifters) the person is now a werewolf.

Is there a cure?

No. Most werewolves simply adapt to their condition, locking themselves away during the full moon, or only opting to change when it is safe to do so, and refraining from biting in social situations. Death is also a cure of sorts to those who no longer feel able to live with their condition.

What should I do if a werewolf is after me?

It is important to remember that a werewolf is also a human being and has very little say in their condition. Some werewolves retain no memory of their ‘wolf’ times and may be quite surprised when confronted with evidence of their condition. If at all possible a werewolf should be trapped and held at a secure location until they revert to human form and can be reasoned with. Usually hereditary or change-at-will werewolves are adept at managing their condition and pose few problems – it’s usually the recently bitten, who may have no idea what’s happening to them, that cause all the havoc.

In some cases a werewolf goes ‘bad’ and chooses to give in to their worst impulses while in wolf form (it is unfair to say they choose to act like wolves, for even wolves don’t chase and kill humans for the fun of it). In this situation you will probably need to kill it.

How am I supposed to do that?

Usually ‘silver’ in some form is recommended for the destruction of werewolves – and since you don’t want to get too up close and personal, silver bullets tend to be the weapon of choice.  You can stab them with a silver knife, or slice them up with a silver sword but these methods are not recommended for amateurs (for one thing – how expensive do you think a silver sword is?). You can also get good results with fire and decapitation – there aren’t too many things that you can’t kill in this way.

Lastly, if at all possible try not to just run away. Firstly, it won’t work. They’re much, much faster than you (they have more legs – even a wolfman can choose to run on all fours). Secondly, even otherwise respectable werewolves have reported that the urge to chase something that’s running away is just overwhelming.

What do I do if I get bitten in the process?

Clean and dress the wound. Stock up on rare steaks and invest in some chains and handcuffs. Sorry.

I want more information!

Sabine Baring-Gould’s The Book of Werewolves (1865) is a seminal work on the subject. But if Victorian folklore isn’t your thing you could opt for one of the more modern ‘documentaries’. There are hundreds, but I’d recommend:

The Wolfman (1941)

The Howling (1981)

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Teen Wolf (1985)

Wolf (1994)

Ginger Snaps (2000)

Dog Soldiers (2002)

Underworld (2003)

The Wolfman (2010)

Please recommend any other tips or sources for our database!

And don’t forget to vote for your favourite werewolf movie in our poll! (if yours isn’t there, send us a comment and tell us about it!)

Time is running out – Vote now!

Posted in Monday Monster Profile with tags on February 25, 2010 by gobbets

Time is running out to vote on the subject of the very first Monday Monster Profile. So far we have a three-way tie between zombies, werewolves and vampires. So while they’re fighting it out fang, claw and umm, well, zombies will use anything really… why don’t you help them out by voting! If you’d like to see a monster profile on a beastie other than these simply comment on this post and I’ll start researching – after all, we have a lot of Mondays….

Monday Monster Profiles!

Posted in Monday Monster Profile with tags on February 22, 2010 by gobbets

Need a field guide to the monsters that keep popping up in conversation? Planning on quitting your job to become a Hunter and want to be as prepared as possible? Look no further! Each Monday Gobbets will feature a Monster Profile giving you the low down on the all the common (and many of the somewhat obscure!) monsters you might one day have to face.

Have a grave need for zombie facts?

Vampires giving you lip?

Vote now for what you’d like to see as the first Monday Monster Profile!

If your preference isn’t there simply click ‘Other’ but remember to comment on this post to tell me what beastie you need information on…

Oh and go buy a really big backpack – once you realise what’s out there you’ll never leave home without supplies!