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Thursday, August 24, 2017
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Hey, guys! Although I have received some emails regarding encounters with the Wendigo, I need MORE for my blog entry revision. Also, ANY encounters with monsters are welcome at any time. Don't be afraid to send me an email! Rest assured, I will NOT call you crazy, insane, or say that you were hallucinating and such. I am very open-minded, and I am willing to help you if I can. Stories and encounters of skinwalkers, the Rake, haunted dolls (especially Robert the Doll), Sasquatch, the aforementioned Wendigo, werewolves, dogmen, vampires, and all sorts of monsters are all welcome. But NO UFOS! Please don't hesitate to send me an account if you feel like you're in imminent danger or that your life is being threatened! Keep in mind that I can only get online two or three times a week, but if you send me your encounters, I'll respond to you as soon as I possibly can! Also, I am looking to start posting encounters as blog entries for others to read. This will serve to entertain, educate, and scare the literal CRAP out of my readers. Looking to do at least one encounter story a week. As such, I will be expecting you guys to send me, at the very least, one encounter or story in a week. Most professional monster hunters and cryptozoologists get emails regarding such things on a daily basis, and I would like that to happen for me as well. If you could humor me, I would very much appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support! I will be posting again before the end of the month, and it'll be well-worth waiting for!
Thursday, May 11, 2017
A few months ago, I received a book from Visible Ink Press for review, courtesy of my good buddy Nick Redfern. This particular book is entitled The Monster Book: Creatures, Beasts and Fiends of Nature (Visible Ink Press, 2017). Make no mistake: this is an encyclopedia of monsters and nightmarish beasts. I'm always on the lookout for new monsters to write and blog about, and Nick's book will undoubtedly provide some inspiration. But for now, let's move on to the review. But beware: nightmarish creatures from all over the world lurk within!
The Monster Book is an encyclopedia of all things of a monstrous and horrifying nature, and it contains nearly two hundred entries covering all kinds of frightening beasts. The books is divided into ten sections, each of which focuses on one or more different types of monsters. Such creatures include (but aren't limited to) anomalous big cats, werewolves, phantom black dogs, lake and sea monsters, vampires, hairy hominids, shapeshifters, urban legends, lizard men, flying beasts, and dragons, among other things. Each section is written in A-Z format for convenience's sake. Some of my favorite entries in the book include Beast of Bray Road, Cemetery Wolf-Man, Hexham Heads (the full story of which can be read in this blog's entry on Phantom Werewolves), Giant Beaver, London's Bear-Monster, Man-Eating Plants, Basilisk, Giant Salamander, Lambton Worm, Loveland Frog, Megalania Prisca, Mongolian Death Worm, Thetis Lake Man-Reptile, Bunyip, Bloop, Kraken, Loch Ness Monster, Mokele-Mbembe, Oklahoma Octopus, Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui, Bigfoot, Man-Monkey of the Shropshire Union Canal, Skunk Ape, Wendigo, Aswang, Batsquatch, Donkey Woman, Lizard Man, Mapinguari, Monster of Glamis (a fascinating subject, which I may very well do a blog entry on one of these days), Reptile Man, Slenderman, Chile Monster, Dragon, Flying Woman of Vietnam, Houston Batman, Mothman, Gwrach Y Rhibyn (another blog entry of mine, which can be read here), and many, many others. At four hundred and sixteen pages long, that is a lot of monsters!
Overall, The Monster Book is well-written, thought-provoking, neatly organized, and more than a little spooky. The book has both an index for finding information quickly and a bibliography that's just over seven pages long. Although this encyclopedia doesn't list every single monster in the world (which would be a huge undertaking, to be sure), that doesn't detract from this tome's value as a great all-around reference book. I heartily recommend this book to all of my friends and this blog's readers. The book can be ordered from either Amazon or from Visible Ink Press here. And now, I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank both Nick Redfern and Visible Ink Press. My sincerest thanks go to Nick for his friendship and his kindness, and to Visible Ink Press for kindly sending me this book, free of charge, for review. Thank you so much to both of you, and I am greatly looking forward to your next books, Nick!!!
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
“The Wendigo is hungry, always hungry. And its hunger is never satisfied. The more it eats the bigger it gets. And the bigger it gets, the hungrier it gets. It can grow as tall as the trees, and still it aches with hunger. And we are hopeless in the face of it. We are devoured.”
–Larry Fessenden, Wendigo (2001)
These days, you don’t see many books about the Wendigo on the shelves in the bookstores. Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be very many people who are willing to tackle the enormous amount of lore and material that is available about this horrifying beast. And trust me, there is a lot of material to be had! Close to a year ago, I heard about a book entitled Sudden Storm: A Wendigo Reader via the Internet. When I saw this title, I immediately knew that I absolutely had to get ahold of a copy. Not having a whole lot of money with which to order a copy for myself, I decided to contact the publisher, Fiddleblack Publishing (through Twitter, of all things). I explained my situation to them, and soon enough, I had a response! They actually agreed to send me a copy, free of charge! Who knew that Twitter could be so useful? Anyway, I provided them with my mailing address, and I waited. About a week later, I had the book. This review is LONG overdue, and I would like to offer Fiddleblack Publishing my sincerest apologies for not having posted this review sooner. I’ve been through a lot in the past year, and I hope that they can forgive me.
Sudden Storm: A Wendigo Reader is a collection of scholarly essays compiled by writer and film director Larry Fessenden, who wrote and directed the movie Wendigo (2001), as well as directing the movie The Last Winter (2006) and the “Skin and Bones” episode for the short-lived TV anthology series Fear Itself (2008). He also collaborated with the scriptwriters for the 2015 PS4 horror survival hit, Until Dawn (Sony Computer Entertainment, 2015). All of this and more he relays in his introduction to the book. He also discusses how he was introduced to the monster as a child and how it literally scared the SHIT out of him. He then recounts his obsession with it as an adult and as a writer and a filmmaker, as well as his subsequent research into the subject and how it continues to influence his work to this very day. Needless to say, the Wendigo has, figuratively speaking, consumed him.
Sudden Storm: A Wendigo Reader is composed of seventeen scholarly essays, interviews, stories, and script excerpts by a number of different writers, with each one giving their own thoughts on the Wendigo. Each one of these shall be briefly examined in this review, which is why it’ll be quite a bit longer than the others. The first thing presented is a script excerpt from Mr. Fessenden’s Wendigo (2001), in which the young boy Miles speaks to his father, George, about the Wendigo, after which they go sledding in the snow. In the first essay, “Seeing Wendigos”, Victoria Nelson discusses the monster in regards to literature, mainly concentrating on Algernon Blackwood’s novella “The Wendigo” (1910). She also takes a look at E.M. Forster’s 1920 tale, “The Story of the Siren”. While the latter story isn’t actually about the Wendigo, Nelson takes note of some interesting parallels between the two stories. Afterwards, she touches upon Fessenden’s Wendigo, and then draws upon “parallels” between the Wendigo and UFOs. The next entry, “The Wendigo”, recounts a “goblin story” as told by former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt of a ferocious monster in the woods that a man named Bauman once encountered and subsequently told Roosevelt about. Most people, however, regard this story as being an early account of a very aggressive Sasquatch. The next essay, “The Many Faces of the Wendigo: An Examination” by Chris Hibbard, is an in-depth guide to the basics of what you need to know about the Wendigo. This is a fantastic essay, and the original version (first published in 2008) can be read here. The next essay is Carter Meland’s “It Consumes What It Forgets”. This essay is about the Wendigo’s hunger and how it is unable to relate to or to feel any sort of kinship with humans and the pain that it causes them because of that hunger. It cannot love or feel anything other than its unending hunger, and nothing else matters to the beast other than killing and eating. In short, that hunger has caused the Wendigo to forget its humanity, and therefore it consumes what it has forgotten.
In “Story of the Wendigo” by Sheldon Lee Compton, a very short story is given about a man who has been possessed by the Wendigo and kills his starving family. Following this tragic tale is an excerpt from the “Skin and Bones” script, as written by Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan. The next essay is “Prophesy”, written by my good friend Nathan Carlson. Nathan is the world’s foremost authority on the Wendigo and the lore surrounding this horrible beast, and I trust him and his research implicitly. In “Prophesy”, Nathan speaks of how the white men destroyed a sacred manitohkan (effigy) in 1895 that kept starvation and the Wendigo at bay. A shaman gave an ominous prophecy that the Wendigo was coming, and the beast would destroy everything and everyone who didn’t flee. This set into motion a chain reaction that led to mass panic, famine, starvation, and fear, all of which only hastened the Wendigo’s coming. In 1896, a man named Felix Auger fell victim to the hunger himself, and had to be executed. He was buried under a pile of heavy logs to keep him from coming back as a full-fledged monster. Tragedy after tragedy followed, until eventually the prophecy was forgotten…that is, until 2008. Nathan turned on the TV early in the morning one night, and the Fear Itself episode “Skin and Bones” was on. At the time, Nathan was writing the very same essay featured in this book. And when the show was over, the news immediately came on and shocked the world with the story of Vincent Li, who murdered a young man named Tim McLean on July 30th aboard a Greyhound Bus. Li stabbed the young man to death with a large knife and then hacked his head off with the blade and consumed some of his flesh. When Nathan heard the news, he sank into “a fog of horror and revulsion”. You can actually feel Nathan’s pain as you read this essay. However, I don’t want to give away the rest of the story. But needless to say, Nathan was both horrified and sickened by the similarities to the Wendigo and the sheer brutality of the act. The shaman’s prophecy has come true, and it threatens to devour us all.
The essay following Nathan Carlson’s “Prophesy” is an interview with filmmaker Christian Tizya of Watson Street Pictures, conducted by Larry Fessenden himself. This interview explores the mythology of the Wendigo, the murder committed by Vince Li in 2008, native beliefs regarding the beast in modern times, and Christian’s opinions regarding cinematic and literary portrayals of the beast. The next essay, entitled “Pantheon” by Kim Newman, deals with the monster’s portrayal in popular culture. This is mostly in regards to television and the movies, but some literary material is examined. Some of those films include Antonia Bird’s Ravenous (1999), Larry Fessenden’s films Wendigo (2001) and The Last Winter (2006), as well as some brief mentions of other, lesser-known films. “Wendigo of the Week: A Myth Too Big for the Small Screen?” by Samuel Zimmerman deals entirely with the Wendigo as portrayed on television. The shows covered include Supernatural (S1/Ep01, “Wendigo”), The X-Files (S1/Ep19, “Shapes”), Sleepy Hollow (S2/Ep06, “And the Abyss Gazes Back”), and Fear Itself – “Skin and Bones”. Zimmerman takes the time to look at the deeper meanings behind the creature’s portrayal in these TV shows, although his comments regarding the Supernatural episode “Wendigo” (which I loved) are far from flattering. In “Myth and Media Consumed”, Alison Natasia examines the “Wendigo Archetype” in Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1980) through the common denominator of the two: cannibalism (as the Wendigo itself is never actually mentioned by name in the film). And in the sixteen-page essay “Windigo Teaching: Cannibal Critiques in ‘Ravenous’ and ‘Wendigo’”, Carter Meland dives deep into these two films. Here, Meland summarizes the lore that surrounds the Wendigo for reference in conjunction with the films. Next, he takes the time to summarize and dissect each film, looking at the deeper meanings and taking care to note and discuss each connection to the original Native American beliefs that he finds. He also examines Joseph Boyden’s novel Three Day Road (Penguin Books, 2006) in the same manner. Since this essay is so long, I’ll move on to the next one to avoid any spoilers. Don’t worry, because we’re almost done.
The next essay in line is “Consumption, Chaos & Family Values”, written by Bernice M. Murphy. In this thought-provoking essay, Bernice examines Stephen King’s novel The Shining (Doubleday Publishing, 1977) and Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film of the same name, but with a twist: she looks at the two works as stories of a man, Jack Torrance, who becomes possessed by the Wendigo and slowly turns into a monster. It should be noted here that Jack’s never-ending hunger isn’t for human flesh: it’s for alcohol. This too can be interpreted as a more modern variation on the more traditional Wendigo’s hunger for human flesh, but the end result is always murderous violence (among the many themes and parallels explored in this essay). Following this is an excerpt from the script of The Last Winter (2006), written by Larry Fessenden and Robert Leaver. And finally, the last essay in the book is “The Last Winter: Why Wouldn’t Nature Fight Us?” by Bernice M. Murphy. This final essay takes a deeper look at the themes found in the film and their connections to the Wendigo. She presents the unseen force that plagues the people as the Earth itself, rising up against everything that mankind has done to it. It is interesting to note that the Wendigo itself is seen as a force of nature, more specifically as the personification of both winter and hunger. This is fascinating stuff, to put it mildly. At the end of the book is a short afterword by Larry Fessenden, which is followed by an annotated list of recommended reading.
Overall, this book is well-written, neatly organized, and is both very educational and extremely entertaining. There are some spelling and grammar errors, but this does not detract from the book’s value as a thought-provoking, in-depth look at the Wendigo, the lore and beliefs surrounding the beast, and the monster’s portrayal and its place in popular culture. And in addition, the book features some truly amazing artwork that will both tantalize and horrify you. All in all, I cannot recommend Sudden Storm enough, and I strongly urge my friends and this blog’s readers to order a copy for themselves as soon as possible. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Fiddleblack Publishing for sending a free copy of this book to me, a guy that they don’t know and have never met, and for giving me this great opportunity to begin with, even though I took much longer to read through this book and to get this review written, typed, and posted than I should have. I hope that you guys at Fiddleblack can find the kindness within your hearts to forgive me, as I have been through a lot in the last year, and I hope that you very much enjoy this review! Thank You!!!
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Monsters Among Us is divided into five parts, and each chapter (and the contents therein) has something to do with the section’s theme. The first part of the book (and the first two chapters) deals with hellmouths (entrances to the underworld), creatures that seem to have come from the underground realm, beasts that attack (and ride inside) vehicles, a dogman with a love of jogging, and lizard men that dwell beneath the streets of Los Angeles. The story of “The Torrance Werewolf” is particularly frightening, involving a young girl and her teenage brother who witnessed a man who came up from an underground area. He somehow knew the little girl’s name (even though she and her brother had never met the man before), and kept asking her to come forward. When he started to get angry, he began to change, and he gradually became a doglike monstrosity. She and her brother managed to escape largely unharmed. Another story involved an eyewitness who saw a grinning, dog-headed man riding in the back seat of a black limousine. And this review is just getting started!
The second part of the book (chapters three through five) deals primarily with Linda’s specialty: sightings of werewolves and dogmen, as well as shapeshifters of a most peculiar and frightening nature. In chapter three, you’ll find a story of a man’s dog-headed son, and a man who went up to a farmhouse for help with a flat tire, only to encounter a wolfman who not only appeared to live there, but actually threatened to kill the man if he didn’t leave. In addition, there’s a story of a policeman who had a disconcerting encounter with a cigarette-smoking wolfman in a gray hoodie, and a werewolf wearing a plaid shirt that attacked a family taking a nighttime drive in Colorado. In chapter four is the truly horrifying story of "The Church Lady Werewolf", in which a middle-aged woman transformed into a horrifying wolf-beast with long claws, cloven hooves for feet, and a roar like a lion’s inside of a church and in front of a congregation of over two hundred people!! This story must be read to be believed. Chapter five deals with werebeasts from South America, and a man’s theories that such things may stem from witchcraft, that native South American beliefs that the Ucumar (the South American equivalent of Sasquatch) is a spirit-being may well be true, and his beliefs regarding guardian spirits. Fascinating stuff.
Section three (chapters six through twelve) is mostly about wolfmen and dogmen who stalk people around their homes at night, nighttime bedroom invaders, and shadowy wolflike entities, among other things. In this rather long section, you’ll find stories about a phantom dogman that reeks of sulfur (which is commonly associated with demonic manifestations), a woman’s encounter with a shadowy dog-beast in her basement, a recounting of Nick Redfern’s encounter with a strange cape-wearing wolfman (which I’ve covered in full detail in this blog’s entry on Phantom Werewolves), a wolfman that spoke what the eyewitness said “sounded like perfect Greek or Latin”, a man’s unnerving sighting of Anubis (the Egyptian jackal-headed god of death and mummification) in Addison, Illinois, a shadowy wolf-beast that told a young girl to put some arrowheads back where she had found them (although she did keep one, and the beast apparently didn’t mind), an incredibly frightening tale of a shapeshifting werewolf stalker, Linda’s very own encounter with what appears to be the Grays of classic UFO lore, and a truly horrifying encounter with a nine-foot-tall werewolf straight out of The Howling (1981) that glared at a young boy through his mother’s bedroom window and scared the living HELL out of him! The final two chapters deal with sightings of wolfmen on the homestead and more window-watchers, as well as roadside encounters. I won’t say anymore at this point, as I don’t want to completely spoil this section of the book. Now, onto the next section!
Section Four of Linda’s book (chapters thirteen through eighteen) deals with two sisters and their encounters with multiple anomalies over a period of five years, including a Sasquatch, a possible dogman, balls of light, a Thunderbird, a possible devil monkey (or a kangaroo, one of the two), poltergeist activity, and another shadowy wolf-creature, as well as stick structures and portals. Other chapters include a shadowy wolfman, anomalous happenings in the Bong State Recreation Area in southeastern Wisconsin (and no, there was no smoking involved!), sentient green mists, weird green glows with euphoric side-effects, ball lightning, “the Oz Factor”, invisible arguing dwarves, and a glowing dogman, among other things. She also talks about misty monsters and the possibility that some of these creatures are able to “cloak” themselves, rendering them virtually invisible to human eyes. In chapter eighteen, Linda gives a chilling account of a gray-furred wolfman known as “The Hairy Hartland Thing”, which seems to have an unnatural interest in the eyewitness’s house and has a disturbing habit of staring through her child’s bedroom window. Hold on, folks…we’re almost done.
The fifth and final section of the book (chapters nineteen through twenty-six) features discussions of UFOs and their possible connection with Sasquatch and werewolf sightings, UFO sightings, sightings of Sasquatch in the Chicago area, invisible predatory stalkers (these stories are truly chilling, to put it mildly), an absolutely hilarious story about a clumsy Sasquatch that bumped its head on some scaffolding and then took a dump in some hollow concrete blocks (which the eyewitness actually kept!), and a group of people being hunted by an invisible monster. Linda also takes the time to talk about the mechanics of invisibility, land spirits (genii loci), fairy paths, and more portals. In fact, Linda spends the entirety of chapter twenty-five detailing her investigation into the possible existence of an interdimensional portal in a farmer’s field. Needless to say, it’s incredibly fascinating. In the twenty-sixth and final chapter in the book, Linda talks about physics (a class that I never took) in regard to anomalous phenomena, including the possible existence of alternate universes and other dimensions. I have to say, without giving away the ending of the book, that her conclusions are both stunning and thought-provoking.
Overall, Linda’s book is very well-written, neatly organized, and free of grammar and spelling errors, and it is both highly informative and very entertaining. Linda’s research, her investigative skills, and her somewhat dry sense of humor make this book easy to read and follow along with, an on top of that, it’s a ton of fun to read. This book can be frightening at times (most of the time, in fact), but that just makes it even more fascinating to me! The sheer scope and the depth of Linda’s research is absolutely mind-boggling, and it may leave your head spinning after you put it down the first time. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll always be going back for more!
I have to say that I owe a huge debt of gratitude to both Linda and TarcherPerigee: to Linda for her friendship and her kindness for all of these years, and to TarcherPerigee for sending me a copy of Monsters Among Us, free of charge, and for giving me the opportunity to review this book. This book is absolutely incredible, and I honestly cannot recommend it more! If you’d like to read it for yourself, I suggest that you get up, go to the bookstore, and buy a copy…NOW. Oh, and beware of wolfmen with glowing eyes along the way! They’re out there, and these beasts are hungry.
Monday, March 27, 2017
The Werewolf seems to be a more or less universal figure. Most of the world’s major countries and cultures have their own legends and their own folklore regarding the beast, and each one is different in one way or another. The Caribbean, for example, has a variety of unique and terrifying monsters, but it also has more than one werewolf legend. One of the most frightening versions of these legends tells of a shapeshifting monster that can take the form of either a towering and emaciated manlike figure dressed in torn clothing or a ferocious wolflike beast, and both of these shapes have terrible red eyes that glow in the dark with a demonic intensity. The Caribbean natives know this monster as the Jé-Rouges, the Red-Eyed Werewolf.
The Jé-Rouges (pronounced juh rooje) is a shapeshifting monster (not necessarily a werewolf) that is found in Caribbean folklore and legend, particularly in Haiti, Hispaniola, parts of both Central and South America, and on several other islands throughout the Caribbean. The name of this beast is derived from the French term les yeux rouges, which literally means “red eyes”. In the Creole language, it is pronounced “lay jer rooje”, and through the mingling of these two dialects, this descriptive name for the monster was produced. In a similar vein, the Jé-Rouges is thought to be the end result of combining indigenous beliefs and cultural folklore from both Europe and Africa, resulting in a unique and horrifying monster. However, nobody seems to be entirely sure if the beast is a corporeal being or an evil spirit. It could even be both. The monster is also strongly associated with the Vodoun religion, which is still very widely practiced throughout the Caribbean to this day (Curran and Paciorek 116-118).
There seems to be a couple of different notions regarding what the Jé-Rouges looks like. This may be because the creature is a shapeshifter and can change its form to suit its needs, much like people change their clothes. It is said that the monster looks more or less human when seen from a distance or in dim light, but the similarities end there. The creature is extremely tall, towering over most men. Its body is lanky and emaciated, as if it was perpetually starving. It is said to wear ragged, torn clothing and a tattered straw hat with a wide brim, all of which may be symbolism relating to the people’s days in slavery and their toiling in the fields. The lower half of the monster’s face is wrapped in dirty bandages, concealing a mouth full of horrible fangs, which are ideal for feeding on human flesh. Its hands are equipped with sharp, bony talons on the end of each finger. But worst of all are the horrible, blazing red eyes that glare from underneath its ragged straw hat. This is a feature that always appears, regardless of what form the Jé-Rouges takes. The creature moves with a slow, shambling gait that is reminiscent of the modern cinematic zombie (Curran and Paciorek 118). However, this could be intentionally deceptive, and it may very well be intended to frighten a potential victim into immobility so that the monster can move within striking distance. Either that, or it may lull them into a false sense of security, making them think that they can easily escape from such a slow creature…only to find it right behind them.
In other versions of the legend, the Jé-Rouges is said to take the form of a great wolf that stands and runs about on all fours, and has the same demonic red eyes as its more humanlike form. This notion is especially common on the islands of Haiti and Hispaniola, as well as in parts of Central America and other Caribbean islands, where it is regarded as a werewolf. And although the beast may prefer the form of a humanlike monster or a wolf, people also believe that it can take on any shape it desires, whether it is an animal or a plant. However, these forms aren’t perfect, and close observation can reveal the truth. When in the form of a wolf or a dog, it is thought that the Jé-Rouges has a fifth clawed toe on both of its front legs, just above the heel. In some beliefs, this is reminiscent of a thumb, indicating that the beast may have once been human. Some also say that the creature will have bushy, human-looking eyebrows that meet in the middle above the nose while in its animal form, a sure sign that the so-called “animal” is actually a shapeshifter in disguise (Curran and Paciorek 119-120).
The Jé-Rouges has a fairly limited array of supernatural powers. The beast has unnatural strength, speed, agility, and endurance, regardless of what form it takes. The monster’s glowing red eyes allow it to see in complete darkness and over vast distances as well. One may assume that its senses of smell and hearing are enhanced as well. But the Jé-Rouges is a shapeshifter, and besides the aforementioned humanoid and wolf forms, the beast can take the shape of anything it wants, including the form of humans, pets, or even household plants. Furthermore, anyone who is bitten by the Jé-Rouges will become a red-eyed monster themselves. And in addition, unlike most werewolves, this creature can actually speak (Curran and Paciorek 118-120). And whenever a big wolf starts talking, trouble is sure to follow.
The Jé-Rouges is not a mere mindless beast, unlike some of its better-known European cousins. It is both cunning and sly, and it is not above manipulating potential victims to get what it wants. The Jé-Rouges feeds on the flesh and the blood of its prey, and the monster prefers children. However, it doesn’t hunt and chase down its prey with sheer strength and speed like a wild animal, although it could do so if it desired. Rather, the creature uses guile and deception to gain access to its victims. Much like the Vampire of film and literature, the Jé-Rouges cannot enter an individual’s house without an invitation, and so it has to somehow trick the homeowner into letting them in. The creature’s favorite tactic is to come to the house late at night and wake up the home’s owner, pretending to be a neighbor (and quite possibly taking that particular neighbor’s shape as well). The exhausted occupant will more often than not invite them inside, and it will proceed to take a look around. If it finds a baby or a small child, the Jé-Rouges will ask if it may take the child. In their sleepy state, the homeowner may very well agree (although one has to question the parent's sanity). If so, the beast will run off with its catch and will then kill and devour the child, or it may steal the little one’s soul (Curran and Paciorek 121). In the morning, the child will be nowhere to be found, and the parents will be left with the awful guilt of knowing that they had willingly fed their child to a monster.
Another aspect of this monster that makes it so unique is that the Jé-Rouges is believed to drive from place to place in a car, although one wonders where the beast got its license from. This vehicle is usually a rusty, beat-up car or a shabby-looking pick-up truck, which wouldn’t be an uncommon sight in some of the poorer towns of the Caribbean islands. The beast slowly drives along the streets of these places late at night, seeking children or the homeless to assuage its gnawing hunger for human flesh. Anyone who gets into one of these vehicles will very likely never be seen again. Parents who live in these areas know this, and take great pains to stay away from these kinds of motorists (Curran and Paciorek 118-119).
As mentioned earlier, the Jé-Rouges has very strong ties with Vodoun practices in the Caribbean. This connection is so powerful that it is possible to actually summon the beast. However, this is absolutely fraught with danger, and the summoner will almost certainly be killed for his stupidity. A houngan or a bokor (most commonly the latter, as the bokor is more inclined to use black magic) is able to call upon the beast using the same rituals used to summon the Loa (godlike spirits). This is accomplished by playing a special drum inscribed with magic symbols and chanting in an archaic African tongue. The Jé-Rouges is compelled to answer the call, but it is not bound to serve the priest. The Jé-Rouges is loyal to none but itself, and anyone who dares to call upon the monster had better have a damn good reason for doing so. The Jé-Rouges is fickle by nature, and the beast will turn on the priest and may even kill him if it wants to. Another connection to Vodoun practices lies with the Haitian belief that a man may become a werewolf by giving himself up to evil spirits or by becoming the willing servant of a Vodoun priest in exchange for supernatural powers of his own (Curran and Paciorek 119). This most likely occurs through spirit possession. This spirit may take over its host’s body at night, transforming the man into a huge, red-eyed wolf-beast that wants nothing more than to taste human blood.
There is said to be a few different ways to become a Jé-Rouges. In the Caribbean, the native children have a very peculiar custom. At parties, they always grab a piece of cake that is the furthest away from them, instead of the closest. In a similar vein, adults will decline to eat the last piece of any kind of food at a gathering. In both cases, this is believed to prevent them from becoming a werewolf. Exactly how this is supposed to work is unknown, but it may have something to do with not being greedy and selfish. It is also believed that eating certain kinds of soup (none are specified) can lead to a monstrous transformation. If an enemy spits into someone’s soup, then they are guaranteed to become a monster. Pathological liars are at an enormous risk of becoming a red-eyed, hairy beast as well. It is thought that these beliefs originally came from the slaves working on the plantations, who brought their own folklore from Africa. As stated earlier, these superstitions gradually became entwined with European beliefs, which in turn led to the birth of the Jé-Rouges and several other monsters (Curran and Paciorek 120-121). Of course, being bitten by the Jé-Rouges is always guaranteed to create a red-eyed monster…that is to say, if the victim survives the initial attack.
The Jé-Rouges has very few weaknesses, and nobody really seems to be sure how to kill it. But, according to Caribbean folklore, the beast fears one thing: iron. Pure iron, with no carbon or any other alloying elements added, is said to be able to restrain and confine the monster. It can then be dealt with in other ways. According to ancient folklore, most supernatural beings (with a few exceptions) despise iron and the power that the metal has over them. A hoop, forged from pure iron, can be thrown over the creature’s body while it is in the form of an animal or a plant. This will force the Jé-Rouges to revert to its natural state, at which point it will be vulnerable and can be captured or killed (if not both). However, there are some rather substantial risks involved. The hoop must be forged into a complete, unbroken circle that is big enough to fit tightly over the beast’s body and to completely restrict its movements. Keep in mind, however, that the Jé-Rouges is still highly intelligent and possesses great strength, and even if it is captured in this manner, the monster is still more than capable of fighting back. In other words, it could still slaughter its would-be captors like cattle. Furthermore, the iron hoop is useless against the Jé-Rouges’ humanlike form for some odd reason, and trying this tactic may make it even stronger…or it might just piss it off. In some Caribbean traditions, on the other hand, it is said that the cut-off rim of a steel oil drum will work just as well as the iron hoop. However, this method is highly disputed, and there have been no recorded attempts to prove its efficacy (Curran and Paciorek 121-122). Needless to say, it would be safer to stick with the iron hoop.
As for killing the Jé-Rouges, there seems to be no certain way of doing so. If the Jé-Rouges really is a werewolf, then it should be susceptible to conventional weapons once it has reverted to its human form. Silver would most likely be ineffective, as it really isn’t considered to be a part of Caribbean folk beliefs. Of course, one can always fall back on iron. It might be possible to kill the Jé-Rouges by stabbing it through the heart with a blade forged of pure iron, although this could also be done with an arrow or a crossbow bolt tipped with the metal. This must be followed by decapitation (an axe with an iron blade is a good bet), and then the corpse (along with the head) must be burned until only ashes remain. Keep in mind that this is only speculation, and that these methods have never been proven to work against this particular monster. Relying on them could get a monster hunter killed…or worse yet, turned into the very same vile, red-eyed beast that he was hunting.
Today, indigenous folklore still permeates the lives of the Caribbean natives. And even in this modern age, a belief in monsters still prevails. To this very day, the Jé-Rouges is still very much feared. It is much more than a monster, representing the horrors and the abuse that these people endured in the bondage of slavery, as well as their fear of strangers and of losing their beloved children. And when night falls, they hurry inside and lock their doors, and then make sure that each one of their children is present and accounted for. And once in bed, they can’t help but feel pity for anyone who might be foolish enough to be walking the dark roads at night and who happen to encounter a beast with those horrible, glowing red eyes…
Curran, Dr. Bob & Mr. Andy Paciorek. The Carnival of Dark Dreams. Durham, United Kingdom: Wyrd Harvest Press, 2016.
Friday, March 24, 2017
A few months ago, I received another book from McFarland & Company, Inc. for review. This is another book by my good friend, Theresa Bane, and I have to say, this is one of her best yet. As you know, Theresa is a renowned expert on vampires and the Undead, and has written over a dozen books on such things. And with every book she writes, she adds to her encyclopedic knowledge of supernatural beings. This time, however, she tackles monsters from all over the world in her newest tome, which is entitled Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore.
The Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters is an academic volume, and is intended for serious researchers (like myself) and for those with an insatiable curiosity about such things. As with all of her encyclopedic works, Theresa’s research is painstakingly thorough, and every conceivable type of monster gets an entry of its own. The bibliography is even more extensive than the one featured in her Encyclopedia of Spirits and Ghosts (and she loved that review!), and is over thirty pages long! That is absolutely incredible! I’ve read about a quarter of those books (if even that!), and I intend to read even more of them in the future. Most of the book’s entries are very detailed, and some of these entries are two pages long! Others are very short, consisting of two to three sentences and giving only basic information, which may encourage her readers to do their own research. However, the majority of the book’s entries fall somewhere in between the two, arousing the reader’s interest and inspiring them to learn more on their own. And at the end of each entry, Theresa gives her sources, which consists of the author’s last name, the book’s title, and the pages that contain the information she has given. And at about 423 pages (which includes the bibliography and the index), this book is larger and beefier than the last one I reviewed. Let me tell you, folks: that is a ton of information, and that’s what I like.
Moving on to the book’s contents, the entries contain information on virtually every kind of monster, beast, and creature that you can imagine (except for the Wendigo, which is a shame because I would love to hear Theresa’s take on the monster). There are various types of monsters discussed in this book, which includes cryptids, bogeymen, werebeasts, yōkai, demons, vampires, dragons (there are a lot of dragons listed in this book), the Undead, faeries, shapeshifters, some literary creatures (like Grendel from Beowulf), beasts from classical mythology, tricksters, Fearsome Critters (legends passed down half-jokingly by lumberjacks), deities, sea and lake monsters, beasts associated with black magic and sorcery, and many, many more. Each one of these entries describes the monster or beast’s appearance, behavior, powers, where they come from in the world, their cultural origins, how to defend yourself from their depredations, and even how to kill them (which isn’t always possible). The entries are all in alphabetical order, from the Aarvak to the Zorigami. Some of my favorite entries include the Aswang, the Ga-Git (an entry featured on this blog), the Impundulu, Mama Dlo, the Krampus, the Pukwudgie, the Kelpie, the Basilisk, the Kappa, the Alp, the Batibat, the Black Dog, the Werewolf (there are great deal of werewolf-related entries in this book), and a great deal more. And with over 2,200 individual entries, it’s very hard to pick your favorites. You won’t find any entries dealing with fictional monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Great Cthulhu, Godzilla, King Kong, the Slenderman, the Rake, or anything like that. It is possible that she might publish another encyclopedia on such things one day (I hope), but for now, there are plenty of other books on those creatures.
Overall, the Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore is incredibly well-written, free of the errors that plague so many other books these days, easy to understand, very neatly organized, and a veritable treasure trove of curious and forgotten lore. Theresa’s research is exhaustively thorough and extremely detailed, with a rather long index for quickly locating needed information, and an enormous bibliography for further reading and expanding your own research. In short, this book is a hunter and researcher’s dream come true!! I am truly thankful that McFarland & Company sent me this book, free of charge, for reviewing and for my own personal enjoyment. I will definitely be reviewing more titles from them in the very near future. I very much recommend this book to all of my blog’s readers, my friends, and my fellow researchers and monster hunters. What are you waiting for? Go ahead and buy a copy!
Publisher: McFarland – www.mcfarlandpub.com – 800-253-2187 (Order Line)