Top 10 Mythical Creatures That Deserve Their Own Books Or Films

Creatures, monsters, animals – they have been the staple of horror fiction since the first tales of the supernatural were written down. But we always seem to see the same old familiar faces – the vampires, the werewolves, the animals grown to excessive size, the golems or man-made creatures, the zombies. It’s getting so that you see what the creature is and you know what sort of a story you’re going to get, probably even guess the ending within a few chapters (unless you’re reading one of those written-for-teenaged-girls stories where monsters are made romantic figures… bleh).


So maybe it’s about time we had some new kids on the block. Here, then, are a bunch of mythical or legendary creatures that would make pretty awesome bad guys in books/films/TV series/whatevers.


1) Basilisk
What is it?
In Greek mythology, it started off being described as a snake with a crown-like growth on its head that was not only venomous but also secreted venom from its skin. Over time the legend grew so that its very smell was poisonous, and then it was given the wings of a bat, the ability to breathe fire and had a gaze that could kill.
Why would it be a great story? How in the hell would you kill it? This would be an awesome tale of trying to escape and avoid the monster. A good writer could probably work all sorts of elements into the story to make it intriguing, but this is one creature you might even have to scale back a bit in order to make it work.


2) Bunyip
What is it?
A legendary water creature spoken of by the Indigenous Australians and adopted by the first settlers. Said to be a huge monster that can engulf humans whole, it could very well have been an oral tradition of the ancient megafauna Diprotodonts that lived when the first arrivals came to Australia thousands of years before.
Why would it be a great story? Think about it – Jaws in a river. But this one can also go onto land. Huge, just eating and attacking everything in its path. Tough hide, so maybe bullets can’t even stop it. Or just so big that a lot of bullets would be needed. (Admission: one of my own unpublished novels features a Bunyip, but it was rejected by 2 publishers for being too “Australian”… and don’t get me started on Australian publishers and genre fiction…)


3) Chimaera
What is it?
Classical ancient Greek monster. A lion with the wings of a bat, a tail that is a serpent and a goat’s head coming from the middle of its back, able to breath fire, with a hide tough enough to be impervious to anything.
Why would it be a great story? This is the epitome of the incredible creature. It took a man on a flying horse being extremely clever with lead to kill it. Maybe it comes back and it has learnt not to let anything go into its mouth, or it’s developed the ability to digest metal… now what? Pretty incredible creature to let loose on a city somewhere.


4) Eloko
What is it?
In the legends of some tribes from what is now Zaire, this creature (plural is Biloko) is described as a short-statured humanoid with the head of a crocodile., But, like a snake, it could distend its lower jaw and swallow and man whole.
Why would it be a great story? A tribe of these little beasts being found, discovering modern civilisation and just running amok, eating everyone they can – tell me that wouldn’t be an awesome story! Sure, they might be easy to kill, but their appearance and numbers could work in their advantage, they could hide in sewers, they could do so much.


5) Penanggalon
What is it?
Well, sort of a Malaysian vampire, really. Except that it doesn’t turn into a bat… It is a beautiful woman who detaches her head from her body, trailing innards beneath her, using her hair like wings to fly. She then sucks blood.
Why would it be a great story? A beautiful woman’s head dripping with gore? This is just calling out for some disgustingly spatter-fest-style movie. The blood, the guts (literally), the death, the carnage. The only way to kill one is to destroy the body while the head is out. Transport it to a big city and let it run riot.


6) Pongo
What is it?
Despite the rather cute name, this was a medieval sea creature that was said to live off the coasts of Sicily. It was a mixture of tiger and shark and would basically come onto land and eat people.
Why would it make a great story? Come on, if Sharktopus can get three films, a tiger and a shark together surely should get at least one. All teeth and legs and fur and stripes and eating, always the eating. In the original myth, three brothers killed it; the story could actually involve it being killed in three different places at once, so making it not an easy kill.


7) Spring-Heeled Jack
What is it?
It’s London, 1837, and there appeared a strange caped man who could leap incredible distances, with claws for hands and glowing red eyes. In the 1980s, he was still reported, not only in Britain and Scotland but also in the USA
Why would it make a great story? A man who can jump like that? A supervillain without the superheroes to stop him. No-one knows why he disappeared in the first place, or what he did, but an enterprising writer could, I am sure, come up with something that was not only credible but also scary. It’d be some sort of bizarre anti-hero story, I am sure.


8) Stymphalian Bird
What is it?
Faced by Herakles and Jason (although called Arean Birds in that myth) in ancient Greek legends, these were birds that had metallic feathers which they could fire like arrows. They also ate flesh. And they also like human flesh.
Why would it make a great story? Think tacky Syfy original film, set them loose on a beach filled with nubile young things and impossibly abdominaled males, and you have enough death, carnage and destruction to sate even the most blood-lusty viewer. They would do things by sheer weight of numbers and attacking from up on high. They could bring down helicopters and planes and probably sink ships They can be killed, but that takes a lot of work and man-power. Great film, and it opens for plenty of sequels.


9) Tarasque
What is it?
This is an incredibly well-known creature, but it just has not been used. It was huge, with the head of a lion, six legs, a bear’s claws and a tortoise shell covered in sharp spikes. Its body was scaled, its teeth were like swords and it had a long, snake-like, prehensile tail. It was also amphibious. Hey, some artists decided that wasn’t enough and so they gave it wings as well. Oh, and it was impervious to all weapons.
Why would it make a great story? Read that description! Come on, put that image on a poster and – bang! – instant sales. It was killed by a female Christian pilgrim, but that doesn’t matter – a good writer can surely come up with something workable.


10) Wi-lo-gi-yuk
What is it?
According to Inuit legend, this was a small mammal that would bite any exposed skin of any animal. But its bite had an anaesthetising effect, so the creature would not feel it burrow inside its victim and feed on it from the inside.
Why would it make a great story? This is just crying out to be a medical drama with a weird horror twist. Imagine the doctor (probably played by Sandra Bullock) trying to convince her superiors that a flesh-eating rat was killing people, and then they get loose in the hospital? Man, this stuff writes itself!


And there you have it – 10 mythical and legendary creatures that would surely make great monsters in films and/or books. Oh, and while I’m at it, not the Bonnacon. A huge bull that uses its self-igniting dung to attack people… I do not want to see that…

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