The idea that some hideous creature slinks into your room at night to suffocate you both enthralls and terrifies me. Obviously the myth grew up around the sin of gluttony — don’t gorge yourself or else! But it also has some science behind it. People who stuff themselves will have breathing problems, especially if they sleep on their backs.
Digging down into the legend, I found that many cultures have this scream-stealing monster. In Moroccan culture it’s known as Bou Rattat — a demon that presses down on the sleeper’s body so they can’t move or speak.
Slavic mythology calls it the Notsnitsa (or the Night Maiden). She was known torment children as well, so that would make a frightening bedtime story. (Hey kids, if you wake up with the Notsnitsa in the room, don’t bother screaming… because you can’t.) Apparently a stone with a hole in the center serves as protection. (Where would you find one of those?)
In Spanish culture you have the Pisadeira, a demon woman who sits on your full stomach while you doze at night. Her victims are always people who have eaten too much. This is where I primarily pulled from for the illustrations.
In England, the creature is the Night Hag. In fact the word nightmare was coined to describe the shortness of breath you have awaking from such a terror.
Scientifically, there is a phenomenon known as sleep paralysis, in which a person wakes to consciousness, but cannot move their body. Laying in bed, totally immobilized, some people feel a chilling presence in the room.
Maybe this Night Hag is real and sneaks into our bedrooms at night, slurping up our fear and screams of terror. Now where did I put my stone with a hole in it?
I had no idea I lived so close to such a haunted road. Apparently the dirt road that connects my city to Jamul has all sorts of haunts associated with it — a ghost lady, a goat man and of course a demon car.
Digging into this legend, I can’t help but wonder if it was inspired by the 1977 film The Car, where James Brolin has to defeat, you guessed it, a demon possessed car. The movie has a few problems, but the car design is exceptional and I used it as a basis for the illustration of the Proctor Valley version.
The mouth that opens up at the end was inspired by the cartoon Regular Show, specifically the episode Ello Gov’nor. This is where a British taxi chases Rigby down, but it’s grill opens up into a mouth.
There are also elements of Stephen King wrapped up in the Proctor Valley legend. Not so much Christine, but rather Salem’s Lot. The movie did the best they could, but I recall in the story, King describes the car in much the same way it was depicted in the 1977 Car movie.
I haven’t yet experienced the Demon Car myself. It’s supposed to happen to travelers who embark on the dirt road at night. Once, I did travel down the bumpy path at sunset and behind me loomed a pair of headlights. They never sped up to my number.
All the same, I pushed my car as fast as it would go. Just in case.
Everyone likes to be scared. (Okay, not everyone. But if you’re reading this, then yes, you do.) But how about giggling during your brain eating? Not every horror flick needs to be a serious spine tingler. Humor can liven up a scary flick. What follows are the funniest zombie (or zombiesque) films around.
5 Evil Dead
Rami has a gift for delivering chills and gags all at the same time. The demon possessed folk aren’t exactly zombies, yet they stumble around asking Bruce Campbell to “join them.” This is probably the most serious of the bunch, but still good fun.
4 Dead Alive
Everyone knows Peter Jackson from The Lord of the Rings. Few know that he started with slapstick horror. Honestly, you can’t get more gore than Dead Alive. It takes gross to a whole new level. But the film is dead on funny. It has a zombie baby, a plague infested rat, and a kung fu practicing priest. “I kick ass for the Lord.” Come on, give it a go.
3 Evil Dead II
If the first Evil Dead was great, the squeal is awesome. But this isn’t really a continuation of the story. It’s a remake with a bigger budget and more laughs. Bruce Campbell (aka Ash) has to do battle with his severed hand. He replaces his lost appendage with a chainsaw and proceeds to cut up some demon possessed people. All while black blood spews everything. For fun, count the number of head injuries Ash sustains in the film.
Ash tripping out as the house creaks and lamps start dancing.
2 Shaun of the Dead
This movie simultaneously pays homage to nearly every great zombie flick while making you roll over laughing. One of the best scenes is one that would probably happen in real life. Simon Pegg (Shaun) is going through his morning routine of picking up a soda and an ice cream from the corner shop. He fails to notice the staggering corpses in the streets or the bloody hand print on the glass door.
1 Dead and Breakfast
This is a highly under appreciated movie. Watch this and you will never look at blueberry pie the same again. It has it all. Line dancing zombies (alright, possessed people, but they act like zombies). A person’s head used as a hand puppet. And David Carradine.
Eating blueberry pie and ignorant of the gore behind him.