The Importance of Urban Legends and Story Telling
Where It All Comes From
I was always fascinated by the story of the Mothman. It must have something to do with my mother telling me about the creature when I was a little boy. She was reading The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel. My mother is the root of my love of reading and her particular cup of tea is horror. This book, as she told me, was the only story she was never able to finish because of just how horrifying the legend is.
If you are unaware of the Mothman, he is a winged man with blood red eyes that was seen in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, around the time of the tragedy of the town's bridge collapsing. An incredible amount of things happen between the first appearance of the monster and the bridge falling, but I will leave that for those interested to read into it.
When I found out that this story was something that could scare my mother, I had to jump into it and because of that, I have developed a sort of pastime about learning the world of monsters. I mean, this stuff really scares people. And it's not the fear that is brought on by modern media. It's a primal terror and I think this is important to anyone who wants to write horror.
An adequate example of this is Netflix's Stranger Things. I am sure that many people know at this point that the author of the book The Montauk Project and the creators of Stranger Things are having a lawsuit. The claim is that Stranger Things stole its concept from The Montauk Project. I am from Long Island so this story isn't anything strange to me. When I actually first started watching Stranger Things, I blurted out "Am I the only one who thinks this is just The Montauk Project?" The story is allegedly about how Camp Hero (if you've ever been on top of the Montauk Lighthouse and looked towards the land, it's the cement block with a massive radio dish) is really a secret government building where they were testing on humans, trying to create super soldiers that have psychic powers. Eventually, some young man had a freak-out and opened a portal to another dimension, a monster came out (The Montauk Monster) and it slaughtered everyone. Sounds familiar?
Anyway, what I am trying to say with all of this is that these urban legend monsters are perfect for anyone who is trying to learn about really driving up fear in your work. It's the love for the campfire horror story. How we create these things and they evolve over time and become something more. A man seeing a cat in the middle of the night can then become someone seeing a panther running around the neighborhood, ripping apart the local pets. Studying these stories can teach us how to create organically. Writing organically is probably one of the greatest beasts for the creative to tie down.
More so the spooky story is born from these things. Maybe having an eye for conspiracy isn't such a bad thing for the horror community. Opening yourself to this world and thinking that one of these creatures could be watching you through your window as you prepare for bed is what will bring you an endless flow for ideas and inspiration. Looking into a forest and thinking of Slender Man, well that might be good. Learning the possible roots for him too, such as how Slender Man might have something to do with the legend of the grey man. Where a man in grey would lure children into the woods and kill them. Going deeper to find that the grey man is actually an alias Albert Fish, a real monster.