Sunday, October 26, 2014

Coffin Hop: Christian Larsen's Favorite Monster

Welcome to Day 3 of Coffin Hop 2014! 

(Check out the Coffin Hop blog and visit all the other Coffin Hoppers
 for some great posts & prizes. Check out our posts for giveaways, too. See page tab at top or side logo.)

Today Christian A. Larsen, author of Losing Touch
talks about his favorite monsters...  and the one that still haunts him.

By Christian A. Larsen

What is my favorite monster? That question brings to mind imagery of Bela Lugosi as ‘Dracula’, Boris Karloff as ‘Frankenstein’, and Lon Chaney, Jr. as ‘the Wolfman’. I loved all the Universal monsters, because who doesn’t? The vampires of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and zombies of George Romero hold special appeal, too, in much the same way the pod people of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and later, John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) absolutely freaked me out.

The first set, the Universal Monsters and their kind, are the kind of monsters that chase, ruin, and devour--and their appeal is obvious for people who are looking for a scare, but the second set are even worse (or better, depending on what you’re looking for). These are the monsters who are among us, who are us, and they are the most terrifying of all. 

Consider Virginia, the wife of Robert Neville, the last man on Earth, living on Cimarron Street in I Am Legend. He loved her, he cared for her, he ultimately buried her, and she came back to feed on him, calling his name. Yes, Dracula came back from the dead, but we never loved him. He was never our loved-one. What Neville had to do to his wife for his own good, and for his wife’s good, was horrifying. 

Romero and post-Romero zombie fiction continues this same trend. Our friends and neighbors are no different from us, but once bitten and infected with the zombie virus, they die and turn. Losing a loved one is bad enough, but knowing through anecdotal evidence, that the same fate awaits us--nobody wants to turn into a zombie, which, at its root, is ambulatory evidence that we are mortal.

Who are we? Invasion of the Body Snatchers scared America with the notion that identities could be stolen back when credit cards were a novelty, and online scams weren’t even the stuff of science-fiction. How can we tell the good from the bad, the safe from the dangerous? The pod people of Invasion reminds us that life is a crap shoot. There is danger everywhere--our loved ones might not even be who we think they are--and our very sense of self is a disposable thing. 

Speaking of The Thing--now here’s a monster. It can be anything it has ever touched, including the memories of a dog, a doctor, or a helicopter pilot. Sure, the tentacles, the head spiders, and the Blair monster are gulp-inducingly scary, but these things, with our memories, aren’t they still, at least on some level, a continuation of us? God, that might be worse than total destruction, to be permuted into a shapeshifting fiend. At least the pod people still always looked like people...

So, after this bit of introspective writing, I suppose that the best monsters are the ones that take advantage of our sense of trust, that re-appropriate our sense of self on its most basic level. But that said, Tarman  from Return of the Living Dead is the only monster that still lurks in my nightmares.

  **  Christian A. Larsen is the author of Losing Touch, a sci-fi/horror novel with a foreword by award-winning author Piers Anthony. 

Twitter:  @exlibrislarsen

In LOSING TOUCH, Morgan Dunsmore may be able to walk through walls, but that ability comes with a price. The temptations are endless, and when he succumbs to the first, the rest begin to fall like dominoes…
** CONTEST: Comment and tell us who your favorite monster is and why to be entered to win an ebook copy of Losing Touch. Be sure to include a way to contact you.


  1. Chris - Tarman is one of those monsters that definitely creeps one out. Actually many of the monsters in Return of the Living Dead were freaking - the half dogs, the headless corpse, even the zombie who came through the window of the mortuary - "The pain...". But if I had to choose a monster that still truly scares me, it has to be the xenomorphs from the Alien franchise. And I'm including the facehuggers in that!

    1. Part of what makes Tarman so scary for me was that I was 11 when I watched ROTLD. All those zombies in that movie freaked me out--half woman, Freddy … and OF COURSE the split dogs. Alien I watched when I was a little older, but those are some of the best designed monsters ever. I love that film, too.

  2. Good choices of monsters. I think the alien being from "The Thing" is the scariest, because as bad as those other monsters were, you could pick them out (even the Body Snatcher pod people acted weirdly) at least. FYI, if you're obsessed with "The Thing," the website "Outpost 31" is very extensive. Also, the Peter Watts story "The Things" written from the alien's perspective, is good, too.

    1. I am going to check out that website right now!

  3. Godzilla because he's interesting to watch in movies

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    1. I like Godzilla a lot, but my favorite giant monster movie of all was the beast from CLOVERFIELD. Either than, or the original King Kong (remake was good, too, but it just didn't have that certain je ne sais quoi of the 1933 original.

  4. My favorite monster is Frankenstein.
    1) written by a girl
    2) not a monster, just a misunderstood victim
    3) green is my favorite color
    4) wife has cute hair
    5) seems like a bunch of random parts but the dude is well put together
    6) inspired Herman Munster ��
    7) non-conformist, not necessarily a crowd pleaser

    All around awesome!

    1. Herman Munster … Fred Gwynne IS the creature!

  5. My favorite monster is Pennywise. I typically like clowns, but Pennywise is embodies evil in the clown form and is truly terrifying.

    1. That is an excellent nominee … one that I missed. Pennywise = terrifying.