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monster weed

Monster

[mon-ster]

A monster is any of a large number of legendary creatures which usually appear in mythology, legend, or horror fiction. The word originates from the ancient Latin monstrum, meaning "omen", from the root of monere ("to warn") and also meaning "prodigy" or "miracle".

The term "monster" refers to a being that is a gross exception to the norms of some ecosystem. Usually characterized by an ability to destroy human life or humanity, more than an example of "survival of the fittest", natural law, or innate evil. A person referred to as a monster is taken as exceptionally evil, grotesque, unreasonably strict and uncaring, sociopathic, and/or sadistic. The word monster connotes something wrong/evil; e.g.: a monstrous being is: very morally objectionable, physically or psychologically hideous, or a biological sport (a distinct sense of the word), i.e a freak of nature.

Monsters in literature

The relationship between art and monstrousness was a pervasive theme in Victorian-era horror literature, where science was often depicted as not only studying monsters, but producing them as well. Notable examples include Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Frankenstein.

Monsters in philosophy

Contemporary philosophers such as Lorraine Daston have mused about the relationship between monster depictions and the role of science in a given society. Monsters also appear in a variety of philosophical works (including those of Aristotle, Augustine, Montaigne, Locke, Leibniz, Diderot, and so on). .

Pre-World War II

During the age of silent movies, monsters tended to be human-sized, e.g., Frankenstein's monster, the Golem, and vampires. The film Siegfried featured a dragon that was actually a giant puppet on tracks. A few movie dinosaurs were created with the use of stop-motion animated models, as in RKO's King Kong, the first giant monster film of the sound era.

Universal Studios specialized in monsters, with Bela Lugosi's reprising his stage role, Dracula, and Boris Karloff playing Frankenstein's monster. The studio also made several lesser films, such as Man-Made Monster, starring Lon Chaney, Jr. as an electrically reanimated zombie.

There was also a variant of Dr. Frankenstein, the mad surgeon Dr. Gogol (played by Peter Lorre), who transplanted hands that were reanimated with malevolent temperaments, in the film Mad Love.

Werewolves were introduced in films during this period, and similar creatures were presented in Cat People. Mummies were cinematically depicted as fearsome monsters as well. As for giant creatures, the Flash Gordon serial used a costumed actor (with crude special effects) to depict a large dragon. The cinematic monster cycle eventually wore thin, having a comedic turn in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

Post World War II

After World War II, however, giant monsters returned to the screen with a vigor that has been causally linked to the development of nuclear weapons. One early example occurred in the American film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, which was about a dinosaur that attacked a lighthouse. Subsequently, there were Japanese film depictions, (Godzilla, Gamera), British depictions (Gorgo), and even Scandinavian depictions (Reptilicus), of giant monsters attacking cities. The most recent depiction of a giant monster is the monster in J. J. Abrams's Cloverfield, which was released in theaters January 18, 2008. The intriguing proximity of other planets brought the notion of extraterrestrial monsters to the big screen, some of which were huge in size, (such as King Ghidorah and Gigan), while others were of a more human scale. During this period, the fish-man monster was developed in the film series Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Britain's Hammer Film Productions brought colour to the monster movies in the late 1950s. Around this time, the earlier Universal films were usually shown on American television by independent stations (rather than network stations) by using announcers with strange personae, who gained legions of young fans. Although they have since changed considerably, movie monsters did not entirely disappear from the big screen as they did in the late 1940s.

Occasionally, monsters are depicted as friendly or misunderstood creatures. The creatures of Monsters Inc. scare children in order to create energy for running machinery, while the furry monsters of The Muppets and Sesame Street live in harmony with animals and humans alike. Frankenstein's Monster is frequently depicted in this manner, in films such as Monster Squad and Van Helsing.

Other usages

Monsters are a frequent mainstay of role-playing and video games, in which the creatures are often (but not always) large, powerful, evil and menacing. (An example of a monster par excellence would be the dragon).

During Halloween, monster images are used in costumes for children, who will often dress like popular monsters from films and television shows.

Monsters have appeared in the "news" stories of popular tabloids such as the Weekly World News and The National Enquirer.

In heavy metal and Gothic rock, frequent references are made to monsters. The Finnish band Lordi, who rose to international fame in 2006 after winning the Eurovision Song Festival Contest, wear monster costumes with hideous masks.

See also

References

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