Written by Scotty
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Cannibals, Killers and Zombies, oh my. This episode of True Monsters dives into the depths of the most mythic cannibals and killers in history and tries to find out if the stories are true. Everyone is afraid of death, this is known, but being killed and eaten by somebody seems to leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Well, for the most part anyway.
We start off this episode by getting into the story of the Sawney Bean Cannibals that would stalk the roads looking for their next meal in Scotland. Now, I have not heard this story before and am very intrigued since it could have happened, or it might not have happened, but many travelers failed to get to their destinations and this could have been the reason why. The story goes that Sawney and his family would live out of a cave that was covered by high tide during the day so they could do their hunting at night. The local villagers had no idea who was living in the cave, just that people go missing at night and there needed to be an explanation for it. When a victim escaped and told the villagers about what was happening, they all picked up their pitchforks and searched the mountains for the family and found human remains in the cave and one by one, captured the surviving children that were still practicing their family’s craft. But this could just be a story since the English had such distain for the Scot’s during the day and categorized the northerners as a race of barbarians who nobody wanted to be around. Pretty good job on getting the word out there I would say.
Then we jumped into the story of Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. Now this one got a little more serious when it came to the story. Having never read the unedited version of Grimm’s fairytales, I must find a copy since they were much more adult than the stories I was told as a child. Long story short, the story was a warning for the girls of the times to be careful and guard their virginity while alone in the woods since it was easy for any of the upper class riders heading though the woods to pick one up and take full advantage of them. Different times for sure and it must have been extremely scary to walk through the Black Forest without an escort back then.
Staying with the stories, they then took a look at Bluebeard, one of the first novelized serial killers. Bluebeard had been married six times and even though nobody knew what happened to his wives, he was still able to marry. When taking a leave from his castle, he gave his current wife the keys to it and she stumbled upon his dark secret. All of his previous wives were in the dungeon, dead and cut up. When returning home to see that his wife had uncovered his secret, he is ready to kill her as well, but her brothers showed up to kill him before he was able to follow through. There are reports in the past about a Count killing his wives, but I liked how they tied the story to H.H. Holmes who built his Murder Hotel and went on a rampage during the Chicago World’s Fair where he confessed to twenty seven murders, but may have committed many more than that.
Jumping into everyone’s favorite genre, Zombies, the group explores real zombies that are alive and kicking in Haiti. The practice of making zombies is examined and has been proven on many occasions since people that have died or vanished years ago continue to funnel into town. Taking away a person’s free will, is what makes a zombie, not the urge to eat. The Voodoo priest has found the right method to do this using drugs to that can lead to the person losing their ambitions. I have heard many accounts of this and although it does not seem as frightening as the flesh eaters, you might need to ask yourself if you could go through life not being able to control yourself and having someone else making all of your decisions for you. That seems pretty darn scary to me. I will not be visiting Haiti anytime soon, I can tell you that for sure.
Coming back to America, the Tar River Banshee is discussed and this is just a fun story. When a patriot was trying to get grains to the American soldiers during the Revolutionary War, he was stopped by the British and drowned in the Tar River. But before he drowned, he spit out a curse that the Banshee would take the British soldiers lives. The soldiers died off one by one shortly after, but was it the Banshee that did it? This could have just been a story that the immigrants from Ireland and Scotland told during this time since Banshees were more of their culture, but the problem is that Banshees were never known to kill anybody, they would just yell and place their own curse on people, pretty much telling them they were going to die. Pretty fun stuff there.
Then off to Japan to visit the streets where Kuchisake Onna roams and kills children who are not able to answer her question correctly. Kuchisake Onna was said to have worn a surgical mask while wandering the streets to keep her mouth hidden from her victims, since it was slit from ear to ear so she always wore a smile. When asking the children in her path if they thought she was pretty, there was never a correct answer. If they said no, she would stab her trusty pair of scissors into the youth, but if they said yes, she would cut her deformity into their face. Although this is an urban legend to keep the kids off of the streets, a victim was identified to have his mouth cut open from ear to ear, Kuchisake’s calling card so she may still be roaming the streets today.
Then the show ended with a trip to Ghost Mountain Pennsylvania where it was said that a gang of albino cannibals roamed the hills in the 1960’s. It seems to be a rite of passage for the youth in the area to drive up the mountain and try to find the house where the people lived and ate their victims freely. There might not be any real credence to this story, but everyone in the area keeps their eyes wide open in the middle of the night to make sure that they are not being hunted by the albinos and who knows if anyone will be able to make this story a reality.
I really dig this episode since they talk about the one thing we are all afraid of…being eaten by someone else. Death is imminent, we know this, but we do not see any joy in becoming a happy meal for anyone else when our time has come. Ranging from propaganda to the real zombies of Haiti, True Monsters shows that it can go all around the world to find out the history about what scares us the most and make it easy enough for us to understand. Knowing that cannibals are real things, zombies are real (even though they are not what we are used to seeing on TV), the Brothers Grimm delivered much more powerful stories than we heard as kids and that some urban legends are made to terrify us, everyone seems to come to the same conclusion on the show. We like to be scared, it makes if feel more alive and even if these are just stories to frighten us, we want to challenge the unknown and being scared while doing it is just part of being alive. Stay Scared.