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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore Reviews Scary Movies and Series

Cosmic Horror Movies that Perfectly Capture Existential Dread

Clinical and consulting psychotherapist, Dr. Paul Hokemeyer tells us that, “existential dread is the terror we experience in our awareness that we are transient beings acting out life on a precarious stage. It’s a phenomenon that’s universal among humans, but that varies in its intensity.” Essentially, existential dread is the result of hyperawareness of our own minuscule nature within our universe. Cosmic horror movies capitalize on this hard-to-navigate realm of insecurity and inner turmoil. When we look too closely or are too aware of something we don’t understand it can cause a break in reality and ultimately thwart our attempts to handle our own mental health. This leads us to a better understanding of why cosmic horror is such a tricky thing to tackle within the horror film industry and why it is inevitably an unqualified success or a laughable failure.

How to Translate Cosmic Horror to the Big Screen

One of the main reasons why cosmic horror writers such as Lovecraft can never hope to be fully realized on the big screen is the intangibility of existential dread. You can’t put a form to it, it is simultaneously within and without our own understanding and it’s something that Lovecraft himself aptly described within the philosophy of his own body of work.

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

H.P. Lovecraft

Since the cosmic horror subgenre doesn’t rely solely on jump scares, it’s difficult to really sink your teeth into what is truly so frightening about these kinds of stories. Few movies have been fortunate enough to capture the existential dread that we get from the literary cosmic horror; these precious few examples leave us wanting more. What we end up finding when we delve deeper into trying to understand such an intangible fear, is that the fear arises from within ourselves, our paranoia, insecurities, and the emotions that these things stir up that we are nowhere near prepared to deal with.

The realization of cosmic horror is that there are these unknown, inhuman, races of beings that have inexplicably existed since times before life on Earth could boast multicellular organisms. These beings, creatures, or ancient powers don’t care about us or our existence–we are insignificant and immaterial to the grand scheme of things. This insignificance fuels our fears and results with the ultimate imperceptible terror, the unknown. Fear of the unknown has many succumb to insanity and that’s exactly what happens with the best Lovecraftian literature.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - Horror Movies Poster

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

We have Stanley Kubrick to thank for making the first movie to successfully capture the vision of cosmic horror. His vision met the Lovecraftian horror requirements pretty spectacularly; while critics either hailed this movie as a boring spectacle of lights or a visionary way to explain the cosmos, one thing is for certain–Kubrick gave us a possible view into the future that we could have never before have even tried to explain. This piece is a solid example of cosmic horror that meets both our aspirations of where we could possibly go as the human race and the place we also inch towards with trepidation. Lovecraft’s writing suggested that in his world that extraterrestrials were actually his inspiration for the ancient gods or beings that societies long since passed had worshipped.

Clarke’s writing supported Lovecraft’s creative expression of the ancient ones–an idea further supported by the sequel to 2001: A Space Oddysey which was titled 3001: The Final Odyssey. The only major difference between the attitudes of Clarke and Lovecraft lies within the approach of the aliens towards humanity. Where Lovecraft features an indifferent perspective–as if humans were aphids to their godly prowess, Clarke suggests a far more amicable relationship. What really matters in this narrative though is that Lovecraftian horror elicits an existential dread which is made clearly possible in Clarke’s literary works and Kubricks eventual screen adaptation.

The Thing (1982) Movie Poster - Cosmic Horror Films

The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter is considered a master of horror and that’s a fair assessment, in his long career of horror creation he has been the main name attached to some of the most famous and most underrated movies the horror genre can boast about. His first big studio movie came to us in 1982 via The Thing and it’s also a perfect example of cosmic a cosmic horror movie. Almost forty years after its creation and it’s still a classic within this subgenre. Despite initially coming across as a monster movie, when it’s analyzed with a heavier lens, it’s clear that it perfectly fits the bill of something that’s deeper, darker, and far more intangible than just an evil monster. While The Thing (1982) does deliver the monster, it’s the actual form of this invading force that is ultimately well beyond our ability to comprehend.

We never see the monster in its true form, because it’s always shown either in the guise of one of the crew members or in its transformation to its new disguise. The monster effects were considered state-of-the-art in 1982, it may seem like they would be outdated by now, but don’t be fooled, Rob Bottin continues to enthrall us with his ability to both elicit a sense of wonder and revulsion; they also keep us in the dark just like Lovecraft himself thrived on being non-descriptive, choosing to encourage readers to envision their own, “indescribable horror.”

The bread-and-butter of the cosmic horror genre is typically that which cannot be seen, right? Well, John Carpenter gave us all a middle finger when he essentially slapped us in the face with a monster that we can not only see but one that we still can’t give a proper description of. This monster doesn’t behave in a manner that would suggest it’s a creature that belongs to our world, which leads us to believe it’s an alien. Not to spoil anything but it is the main reason that we suggest watching this movie before the prequel, of the same name, that was released in 2011. The monster (alien?) is just the tip of the cosmic horror iceberg; what the creature ultimately represents is the debilitating nature of what it means to have your entire worldview changed forever.

In the Mouth of Madness (1994) Movie Poster

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

Another John Carpenter movie, albeit quite a bit more underappreciated, In the Mouth of Madness (1994) definitely did its job of inviting existential dread upon audiences. Curiously enough, while the audience experiences this indeterminable terror, so does our protagonist; we watch as his reality unfolds around him and he is exposed to the ultimate mindfuck at the end of it all. What is real? What can truly be expected in life when we don’t even know how to cope with the existence of the unknown?

Event Horizon (1997) Movie Poster

Event Horizon (1997)

This classic sci-fi movie takes cosmic horror to a more literal level, by being set in the actual cosmos. This movie is amazing because it functions on so many levels, as a mystery, science fiction, horror, and action movie. The characters on board are sent to discover what happened to the crew of a ship that had been sent to discover parts of the universe and had otherwise been missing in action for nearly a decade. After it suddenly reappears, the question on everyone’s mind is–where was the Event Horizon the entire time?

Pulse (2006) Movie Poster

Pulse (2006)

This movie is where Wes Craven finally took a crack at cosmic horror and even if he didn’t do it intentionally, he still technically did it. While this movie was basically a remake of the Japanese film Kairo (2001), it begs the question of what would happen when technology crossed paths with the other side. While the move came across as simply another American remake of a successful Japanese film, it does still make it to the cosmic horror party.

The Mist (2007) Movie Poster

The Mist (2007)

This movie brings us a psychologically traumatizing kind of fear–the kind that makes you lose faith in humanity and its ability to maintain some semblance of civility and order throughout chaos. What is really terrifying about this movie isn’t the otherworldly monsters which we get decent exposure to, it’s the characters and their inability to withstand the stress of their situation. We see the characters go through an extreme transformation in their two days of being held captive by the mist; at first cooler heads prevail, but constant fear-mongering by the town’s bible-thumping mentally disturbed resident leads a majority of them to demand blood sacrifice to appease the monsters that they believe God has sent to punish them. Classically terrifying cosmic horror that has aged well over the past decade.

The Happening (2008) Movie Poster

The Happening (2008)

This is probably the movie that least represents cosmic horror within the context of this list–since this movie deals with forces that originate on Earth, particularly Mother Nature herself, instead of an ancient being that has come to take over and extinguish our existence with little to no premeditated vision of extermination. It still fits the subgenre though, because of the inability to truly comprehend the forces at work and the feelings that we see the characters experience throughout the movie. Even though we’re left with an explanation of what our protagonists have encountered, we’re also left with this unrelenting feeling that we don’t actually possess as much control over our existence as we initially believed.

The Cabin in the Woods (2011) Movie Poster

The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

Perhaps its the stereotypical creepy gas station attendant, or the lack of accumulated dust on the relics in the cellar of the cabin, or perhaps it’s the pain-worshipping redneck zombies that dig their way out of the ground–this movie doesn’t walk or quack like a cosmic horror duck, at least not at first. If we discount the major hints that are dropped throughout this movie, the entire movie may end up shocking you once it reaches its finality. It stands to reason though, that if you pay attention throughout the movie you’ll be on edge and most notably creeped out by the subtle external influences at work in this complex, comical, and downright terrifying film. In the end, the character’s realization of what is really going on is what sells this movie as a true gem in the realm of cosmic horror. Not only do they go through all of the stages of grief in a twenty-minute span, but they also cross over into the realm of acceptance within the insanity that they find themselves facing.

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The Thing (2011)

Even though The Thing (2011) came out almost thirty years after the original 1982 version, it actually serves as a prequel to John Carpenter’s first masterwork. More is revealed to us about this universe throughout the movie, but it’s almost like this prequel was meant to be watched after we’re already exposed to the monster and already know the havoc it can wreak within a small, claustrophobic, and insanely isolated region. In our opinion, watching this one as if it were a sequel really helps to keep the original mysterious and terrifying. So if you’re planning on watching these two movies back to back, watch this one last.

Prometheus (2012) Movie Poster

Prometheus (2012)

This movie was birthed from a movie franchise with an already extensive history, stemming from the Alien franchise that began its epic journey in 1979. The cosmic horror focus made this move unlike any of its predecessors, which all made their home in the action, science fiction, monster/alien horror, and thriller genres. We get to see the missing piece of this familiar Alien puzzle, but the Engineers weren’t exactly what was expected out of the story. It makes sense that fans of a violent and terrifying franchise wouldn’t be able to relate as well to a story that hinged on a narrative where human beings were simply a test species genetically engineered by an ancient race of beings. As a result and none-too-surprisingly, it didn’t do too well with the main following of the original franchise. So even though Prometheus (2012) was a highly anticipated movie, the fans of the original franchise weren’t too thrilled with this new cosmic horror focus of the overall story.

The Void (2016) Movie Poster

The Void (2016)

As creepy as it is confusing, this movie is a great example of cosmic horror. The creatures smack of Lovecraft’s strange influence, where there is no real ability to describe what they are. This all takes place in a pretty deserted hospital, which is creepy enough if you’ve ever seen a movie with the stereotypical abandoned and haunted medical center. All we really know when we watch this movie is that it attempts to convey the existence of evil things we can’t hope to know or understand and if that’s not cosmic horror, then we’re not sure what is.

The Endless (2017) Movie Poster

The Endless (2017)

If you’re the type that is intrigued by the psychology of cults and their idea of ascension within the context of mass suicide, then this movie is definitely for you. Outwardly it just seems like some kooky people who are looking for a form of validation through their belief system, but then we realize there are indescribable things at work behind the scenes. When we join two of the cult survivors who go back to find out what’s really going on we see that nothing is what it seems and that the mystery is hidden beneath the surface. The dread that we face from this movie is spurred by our need to know what is going on, so we sit on the edge of our seats waiting to see what our two protagonists came to find out.

Life (2017) Movie Poster

Life (2017)

It’s difficult to know whether or not a movie like this exists within the realm of cosmic horror–or if it’s just another alien movie. Here’s the thing though, even though we see the alien, monster, lifeform (or whatever you want to call it) throughout the entire movie, there is no viable way to know whether this is another evil alien, or just an uncaring being that has a predisposition to survive no matter what the cost is to another form of life. A huge part of cosmic horror is that the menacing force within the story doesn’t need to be evil–it just needs to be overwhelming and intangible, or unidentifable. Their trail of destruction needs to make you feel small, insignificant, and easily discarded.

Annihilation (2018) Movie Poster

Annihilation (2018)

If you didn’t quite understand Annihilation (2018) then you’re not the only one, but that was sort of the entire point of the movie. Even though Natalie Portman dominated this movie in her typical fashion, the movie didn’t get a lot of credit for how intensely original it was; perhaps it was because there was no determinable wrap up to the story, but no good cosmic horror story does. While the jump scares and monsters should have lent to it being an instant horror classic, the terrifying nature of what was going on inside of “the shimmer,” and the inability for people to completely understand the grand theme of utter helplessness in the face of something so large and indefinable led to a lot of people saying it was a bad movie.

In the defense of Annihilation (2018), it’s not that it was a bad movie, there are just not a lot of people who understand or appreciate the classic Lovecraftian influences that make this movie such a success. There’s nothing better than a movie that leaves us questioning everything we know about our own existence, that is the very core of cosmic horror. We see the invading force of the movie literally taking everything it encounters in its path and changing it from something we know and can easily recognize to something entirely new and foreign. Neither we as the viewers nor the characters themselves can fathom the existence of something that can literally rewrite how we define reality on our Earth. If you’re planning on reading the book that the movie was based on, don’t worry about whether or not you read it first–the movie and book hold little in common other than the name.

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

H.P. Lovecraft
Bird Box (2018) Movie Poster

Bird Box (2018)

A movie that was simultaneously successful and a joke in the increasingly nihilistic attitude of today’s world; it earned its status as the most successful original Netflix film in the history of the platform, but it also caused the less intelligent people of society to take the Bird Box Challenge in an effort to take advantage of their fifteen minutes of fame. This challenge like its predecessor, the Tide Pod Challenge ended up getting people hurt and challenged a lot more people to denounce Darwinism in the face of such blatant disregard of responsible action. The social media frenzy that surrounded this movie may have been what everyone was really talking about, but it didn’t detract from the overall cosmic message of the movie.

Like any true Lovecraftian horror story, we see from the very beginning that the horror element of this entire story is the indescribable, madness-inducing truth of the evil they are facing. The perfection of cosmic horror is that the source of fear doesn’t have to be seen by the audience in order to really bring the point home. In fact, the less we see of the source the scarier it becomes, that which cannot be defined or that which cannot hope to be known speaks to our fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown is one of the oldest fears to plague humanity, it harkens back to the days where our fight or flight response to dangerous situations was what kept us alive. This indescribable creature that terrorizes the survivors of the Bird Box universe is exactly what Lovecraft’s cosmic horror is truly all about–we see that just the sight of these creatures creates such a huge wave of existential dread in a person that they literally respond by committing suicide. Those who are already suffering from mental illness just see the truth of what they already know and seek to show their truth to others.

Color Out of Space (2019) Movie Poster

Color Out of Space (2019)

This take on Lovecraft’s Color Out of Space (2019) marks the first truly successful adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s writing to the screen. The original short story of the same title was noted to be Lovecraft’s favorite amongst his own short stories and can be listened to on YouTube.

Considering the failure of many of Lovecraft’s previous works being translated to the screen, this movie was both highly anticipated and doubted. Horror lovers eagerly awaited to see if it would be a true flop as all of the attempts that had come before it, or if it would actually capture Lovecraft’s vision. This undertaking, Nicolas Cage notwithstanding, was an incredibly solid effort to capture that lovely, wonderful, existential dread that Lovecraft made so popular. The jump scares in this movie are nearly non-existent, instead, we got the frightening tale that we were hoping for in true Lovecraft form.

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Featured Indie Horror Indie Horror Creation Indie horror writers Short Horror Stories

Enoch’s Fruit

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Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him- Genesis 5:24


Noah raised the fruit to eye level. Its translucent color sparkled like a diamond in the sun. It’s
shape, oval, fitting in the palm of his hand. Its skin was smooth and mellifluous.
“What is this,” Noah asked, his sun worn face scrunched in curiosity.
A loud thunderclap echoed across the black sky.
Michael the archangel glanced up at the menacing clouds, then back at Noah. “It’s the only
surviving fruit of the tree of life. You must guard it, and guard it with your life.”
Noah’s eyes widened. “So, the legend is true? But I thought Shamsiel destroyed all the fruit?”
“Ah yes, Shamsiel,” Michael nodded in remembrance as his face soured. “The guardian cherub.”
His eyes met Noah’s. “We thought he did. His rage over Lilith being cast out knew no bounds. If
it hadn’t been for Seth,” Michael’s voice trailed off as he stared at the ark.
“What, Michael?” Noah lowered the fruit and cupped it in both hands.
“If it hadn’t been for Seth rummaging through the rubble, we wouldn’t have known either.”
Noah sat on the ground watching Shem struggle to get a sheep up the ramp to the ark. “Tell me
more, Michael.”
Michael sat down by Noah. “Your ancestor Seth found it. He passed it down and eventually
Enoch, the man of God, took the fruit.”
“Yes, and legend says God took him up to the heavens.”
“Indeed, he did. Do you know why?”
Noah shook his head.

“Because Enoch took a bite of the fruit.”
Noah’s hand felt the indention on the backside of the fruit. He flipped it over and his mouth
gaped. “Indeed, he did.” Noah looked at Michael, his face begging him to continue.
“God had to take Enoch. Enoch wasn’t supposed to happen. A fallen man from Adam’s race now
endued with eternal life in his sinful state.”
“Was God angry,” Noah asked.
Michael smirked, “No, he wasn’t angry. He loves Enoch. He enacted a plan.”
Noah raised his eyebrows. “What kind of a plan?”
“Well, “Michael pursed his lips in thought. “Enoch dug up Eve’s grave and buried the fruit with
her.” He gave Noah a sly smile. “Proved to be a remarkable hiding spot.”
Noah nodded in agreement.
Michael said, “After Enoch hid the fruit, Yahweh took Enoch to heaven. Enoch has now been
placed as guardian over the fruit. If the fruit is in danger of falling into the wrong hands, Enoch
will come, ready to fight and ensure the fruit remains safe.”
“So, you’re giving it to me? So, it will not be lost in the grand deluge?”
“You catch on fast, old man,” Michael patted Noah on the back.
Noah gave a half-smile then studied the fruit. “I will guard it well, Michael.” Noah’s gaze met
Michael’s. “I make an oath to Yahweh on my very life.”
“Very good. I know you will not fail us.”
A deafening thunder shook the heavens, and Noah felt the first drop of rain graze the top of his
ear.

In the years following the flood, as Noah’s descendants spread across the land, the secret of the
fruit remained with Noah. Before he died, Noah entrusted this knowledge to his sons, Ham, Shem,
and Japeth. The three brothers guarded the fruit well, and as they aged, the trio sought a prudent
man to entrust with their family’s secret.

But none could be found.

Nimrod thrust his dagger into the stomach of the lion. He had killed the beast not even five
minutes ago. The cold months were approaching, and he needed warm hide to cover his massive
frame.
He slid the dagger down and the blood ran. He pushed his hand into the warm liquid and the
copper smell hit is nostrils. He grabbed a chunk of innards and began to gut the lion. As he
worked, he thought about Ham, the head of the clan. He was on his deathbed. Maybe he should
make the hide into a covering for him?
No, he thought. Let the old bastard die.

Nimrod dragged the carcass back to his clan’s camp. He walked in and heard Ham’s faint voice
calling for him from within his tent. Nimrod sighed, dropped the lion, and stepped into Ham’s
tent.
“Yes, my lord.”
“Come see, my son.” Ham’s voice was a wheezing whisper.
Nimrod eased over to Ham’s bed and knelt beside him.
“Take my hand,” Ham demanded.
Nimrod reached out and held Ham’s hand. It was cold and slick. The hand of a dying man. “I’m
here, my lord.”
“Nimrod, my time on this earth is about to expire. I need you to gather my brothers and my sons
and daughters.”
Nimrod went to release Ham’s hand and obey his orders, but Ham squeezed tighter.
“Wait my child. Before I die, there is something I need to tell you. It’s a secret. A secret of grave
importance. I’ve held this secret because there has been no one worthy to pass it on to. But you,”
Ham coughed and wheezed. “But you are a great warrior, and a great warrior is needed to
protect,” Ham’s words were cut short with more coughing.

Nimrod’s brow furrowed in confusion. “My lord, I don’t understand.”
“Come closer my child, and I will tell you.”
Nimrod leaned in and Ham revealed to him the knowledge of the fruit.
Shem and Japeth entered the tent. Shem held a bowl of stew, ready to feed Ham his lunch.
“And the fruit is buried in the mountains of Ararat, where Noah built the first altar to Yahweh
after the flood.”
Shem’s hands grew weak and the bowl of stew fell to the ground with a sloshing thud. “Dear God,
Ham. What have you done?”
Nimrod smiled over his shoulder at Shem and Japeth, an insidious gleam in his eye.
Ham breathed his last breath and his spirit left to join his ancestors in the bosom of Yahweh.
Japeth licked his lips and swallowed hard. Cold chills twisted up his spine. “Nimrod…no.”
Shem and Japeth knew what kind of man Nimrod was. Ham had always refused to see.
Nimrod stood to his feet. “Well, brothers. I think it would be wise of you to tell me where this
altar is.”
Shem’s wrinkled, old face contorted with anger. “I would rather go to Sheol than tell you where
the fruit is buried!”
“Very well, “Nimrod nodded. He drew his sword which was attached to his waist. With one fluid
motion, he lopped Shem’s head off. A blood rainbow geysered from his neck, decorating the
inside of the tent. Shem’s body toppled to the floor and Nimrod turned his attention to Japeth.
The old man went down on both knees and shook his head. “I will not tell you either.”
“So be it!” Nimrod swung and decapitated Japeth. As his headless body hit the dirt, blood flowed
around Nimrod’s feet. Nimrod stepped over the body and poked his head out of the tent. When he
was sure no one had heard the commotion, he sneaked out the camp, leaving the lion carcass, and
traveled to the mountains of Ararat.
Lucifer sat in the shadows, watching the entire scene, a sinister plan stirring in his dark heart.

Enoch approached Yahweh’s throne, his face shrouded in the darkness of his gray, hooded cloak.
His body burned with the fire of Yahweh. He drew his sword and knelt before God.
“Yes, My Lord.”
“The secret of the fruit has been jeopardized.”
Enoch lifted his head. “I know. I felt it.”
“And Lucifer prowls about.”
“Lucifer…” Enoch growled.
“Go,” Yahweh commanded. “Release Azazel and the other watchers from prison- Amazarak,
Baraqel, and Suriel. They will aid you in your quest.”
“It will be as you will,” Enoch said, then rose to his feet to go to Tartarus and release the
watchers.

A cool breeze flowed through the mountains. It entered a cave and rolled over the sleeping body
of Nimrod, awakening him with a shiver.
“I should have kept the lion,” he mumbled to himself. Nimrod sat up to stoke the fire he had
built. His eyes detected movement in the corner. Nimrod drew his dagger. As the embers of the
fire danced up in the air, he saw a figure in the shadows.
The entities eyes glowed orange. Its skin was onyx, with a sapphire breastplate covering its
chest. The figure extended charcoal wings with singed feathers, gleaming like the embers of
Nimrod’s fire.
“Put the blade down, Nimrod,” the being said and stepped out of the shadows. “It won’t do you
any good.”
It had been years, but Nimrod recognized the creature. “Lucifer?”
Lucifer smiled, revealing jagged, opaque teeth which also reflected the dim light of the fire.
“Yes. And I’m sure you can guess why I am here.”
Nimrod returned his dagger to its sheath. “Oh, I can take a wild guess. The fruit.”

Lucifer gave a slow nod. “I’ve been waiting all these years for Noah and his family to stumble,”
Lucifer chuckled. “I always knew it would be Ham.”
“What do you want with the fruit, Lucifer, “Nimrod asked, his voice lacking amusement.
“To make you like the mighty men of renown. The mighty men of old. The Nephilim. Then you
shall devour the fruit, and we shall live forever, and be the rightful rulers of this creation.”
Nimrod smirked. “Tell me more, brother.”
Plans were made, and Lucifer entered Nimrod. Nimrod’s body twisted and contorted, his features
taking on those of Lucifer’s, except his skin remained its olive color. His torso expanded and his
limbs elongated. A pair of singed wings emerged from his back. Nimrod grew so large, he had to
get on all fours to crawl out the entrance of the cave.
“Go,” Nimrod heard a voice in his head saying. “I know where the altar used to be.”

Enoch sank his sword into the rocky ground of the mountain. It split open, and he saw the
shimmering of the fruit of the tree of life. His emerald eyes glowed under the darkness of his
hood as he glanced over his shoulder at Azazel, Amazarak, Baraqel, and Suriel.
“The fruit is still here. We are not too late,” Enoch said
Azazel threw off his cloak. His wine-colored scales refracted the light, causing it to sparkle like a
gem. Eight tales like a scorpion aligned his back- four on each side running vertically. The tails
outstretched like wings, hovering over his body. Powerful reptilian legs supported the frame, and
one of its massive arms formed into a blade at the hand. Azazel’s face had been peeled back,
revealing bulging eyes and a black skull with the red sinews still attached. He breathed in deep.
“He is close,” Azazel turned to the other watchers. “Prepare yourselves.”
The other watchers removed their cloaks. They resembled Azazel in appearance except
Amazarak was a light blue, Baraqel a golden yellow, and Suriel a deep red.
Enoch removed his sword from the rock and stood in front of the watchers. The ground began to
shake, as a figure in the distance rumbled towards them. A few moments later, the Lucifer-
Nimrod hybrid loomed over them.
“Stand aside Enoch. The fruit is mine,” the creature’s voice flowed deep.

Enoch threw his hood back. Black spikes covered his pale head, which was aligned with various
tribal markings. His green eyes darkened. “You cannot kill what cannot die.” Enoch bared his
teeth and made the first move.
Nimrod swung his sword and blocked Enoch’s attack. The blow was so forceful, Enoch flipped
in the air and crashed against the side of the mountain. The watchers moved in fast. Their blade
arms flailing and connecting with Nimrod’s flesh.
Nimrod cried out in anger and pain. While he was preoccupied with Suriel and Baraqel, Azazel
was able to slip in behind him. Azazel leaped onto Nimrods back. As he did, he sank all of his
scorpion legs into Nimrod’s sides and chest.
Amazarack saw his opening and thrust his blade arm into Nimrod’s stomach. Blood flowed from
Nimrod’s wounds and his body grew weak. With a show of strength, he brought his sword
crashing down on Amazarack’s arm, severing it. Amazarack retreated in pain, and Nimrod
removed the blade, then fell to his knees.
Azazel released his grasp, and Baraqel kicked Nimrod in the chest, collapsing him to the ground.
By this time Enoch was on his feet. He approached Nimrod and stood over him.
“As I said,” Enoch raised his sword. “You cannot kill what cannot die.” He brought the blade
down like a bolt of lightning into Nimrod’s heart.
Nimrod breathed his last, and Lucifer ascended out of him and flew into the heavens. Enoch and
the watchers looked on until Lucifer was out of sight. They inspected the fruit one last time, then
sealed the crevice. Enoch and the watchers returned to heaven, leaving Nimrod’s body to decay
in the mountains.

Shamsiel saw the entire thing. He descended the mountain and stood where Enoch had split the
ground. Shamsiel’s head resembled a gigantic, black goat skull with long horns. His black and
red feline body gripped a flaming sword in its human hands. His tail, a viper, slithered around his
feet. He raised the sword above his head and then slammed it into the rock. The ground split and
Shamsiel saw something sparkle.
He reached into the crevice and took hold of the fruit. Shamsiel brought the fruit to eye level and
inspected it. His grip around it tightened. His voice echoed as he talked. It was a low, guttural
voice that rolled like thunder. “It’s not over Lilith. Not at all.”

Categories
Horror Mystery and Lore

Ghosts of the Ancient World

Although the trend of ghost hunting only seems to have gained popularity in more modern times, the phenomena of ghosts, as well as the belief in their existence has been around since ancient times. Just like the belief in a higher power, the details may vary from culture to culture, but across all of them one thing remains consistent—the existence of a realm where the human soul survives after death. This isn’t so much an evaluation on whether or not ghosts exist, so much as an acknowledgement that cultures across the world place value in the idea that death is not the end for the soul. In Christianity, depending upon the lifestyle that the individual led, the soul either spends an eternity with a benevolent god, or in perpetual torment. In Voodoo, veneration of ancestors plays a large part in religious practice and different pagan religions have different ideas of the afterlife and where their soul will go once they have passed. Another commonality between all of these cultural beliefs is that the human soul, once having passed into the realm of the dead is that the soul would invariably remain in this next realm, unless authorized by the governing entity of the realm. That is to say, there has to be a reason for which the soul is released back to the plane of the living, this could be due to a variety of different reason, such as improper or nonexistent burial and funeral rites, most of these are due to a body having never been recovered. Another common reason behind a soul returning is to resolve unfinished business, whether this is to give an account of the true events surrounding their death, or to give a message to a loved one who is experiencing an inordinate amount of guilt. Even in modern times, the occurrence of encountering a ghost, no matter what the circumstances, is very rarely an experience that one wishes to have. So what did these modern beliefs and experiences evolve from?

How Cultures Viewed the Afterlife

image of an ancient ghost

An unexpected visit from the dead has always meant in one way or another that something was wrong—this meant that whatever message the ghost had to deliver, or business it had to resolve needed to be taken care of in order for the spirit to ever obtain peace and be able to rest for eternity. This was such a common theme across ancient cultures that stories can be compared from across regions of India, China, Greece, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Rome, Ireland, and Scotland, with similar depictions regardless of origin.

Mesopotamian Land of the Dead

Although known by many names, the land of the dead in Mesopotamia was a realm from which there was no return—Irkalla, was the realm of the dead, where they dwelt in darkness and lived in the muck and mire that was provided for them, regardless of their social status or moral fortitude during their lifetime. Souls weren’t given permission to pass back to the world of the living unless they had been given a special mission to attend to, such as righting a wrong.

Egyptian Land of the Dead

In ancient Egyptian lore, passing into the land of the dead was an enormous trial—where the soul would go through the Hall of Truth to be judged by Osiris and the forty-two judges. The white feather of truth was deemed the way in which all souls were judged, whereupon weight the feather and the heart of the human who had passed, only those whose hearts were lighter than the feather would pass to the afterlife. Those who were found to have a heart heavier than the feather would have their soul eaten by a monster—so to pass into the afterlife, there was a necessity to live in truth and purity. This afterlife was known as the Field of Reeds, where the soul would enjoy all of the favorite things that they knew in their lifetime, which meant that the soul would not return to the plane of the living unless they had an important reason to do so.

Land of the Dead in Ancient Greece and Rome

In the ancient societies of Greece and Rome, the pagan culture that surrounded daily practice embraced a more complex theory of the afterlife, where the souls of the dead were assigned to a specific realm depending upon their life and how they lived it. Warriors had their own realm, good people had the second, and bad people had the third realm, into which they went to atone for their wrongdoings. No soul was ever condemned to an eternity of damnation, it was more considered penance that could eventually be fulfilled, at which point they would be sent to the realm for those who had lived a good life. Before being sent to their designated realm, Greek and Roman culture dictated that they would be given a drink to forget about their former lives and only know the realm to which they were assigned—this made it clear that ghosts had little to no reason to ever return to the land of the living. That being said, ghosts would occasionally return, but only for good reason, usually to fix an injustice brought upon themselves or a family member, once justice was served the soul would “die” a second time and return to the plane they had been sent to.

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Horror Mystery and Lore

The Mystery of Pandora’s Box

Opened Up a Pandora's Box

What is Pandora’s Box?

Well, it’s something of an origin story–much like the origin story of Christianity, with Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge. It is said in Christianity that all of the evil that arose in the world of humans only came about after Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. In the older, ancient Grecian mythologies, there was Pandora’s Box which was an attempt to explain the beginning of how the world came to be as it is today. This attempt at an explanation comes from the naturally curious nature of all people who want to know why things happen the way they do and before any scientific explanation, these myths and legends were their way of coping with what they could never hope to understand.

Pandora’s Box, Adam and Eve, as well as countless myths from cultures spanning the world from the beginning of the historical record, attempt to explain why things are the way they are. There is just something so incredibly fascinating about the curiosity of one girl dooming the entire human race to the evils and terrors of the current world. That is to say that early man decided that someone was to blame for the human experience of disease, hate, and war–and that it was inherently woman’s burden to bear for the igniting the ire of the gods, for her blatant disobedience.

The Story of Pandora’s Box

Epimetheus Opening Pandora's Box
Artwork by Giulio Bonasone

The story of Pandora and the box with which she doomed the rest of humanity, comes from Ancient Greek mythology, needless to say, there have been multiple adaptations of the original story. The story focuses mostly upon Pandora, whose name means “all-giving,” and according to the story, she was the first woman on Earth. Before the humans were put on Earth, there were only the immortals, in the form of the Gods and the Titans.

Two of these Titans, Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus had fought on the Gods’ side in the war between the Titans and the Gods. Most renditions of the story say that this was due to the prophetic powers of Prometheus, which gave him the ability to foresee the downfall of the Titans. In some of the variations, these two brothers were the cousins of Zeus, who was the King of the Greek Gods.

When Zeus invested himself in creating inhabitants of the mortal realms he called upon the other immortals for their assistance. Prometheus and Hephaestus were requested to create man out of clay and water, where Epimetheus was enlisted to create the animals and gift them their individual abilities of courage, swiftness, stealth, and more. Unfortunately, Epimetheus gifted out all of the abilities before the creation of man and there were no abilities left to give to them.

In response to this lack of gifts to bestow upon his creation, Prometheus decided to give man the ability to stand upright like the immortals and much to the chagrin of Zeus, Prometheus also gave man the gift of fire. This angered Zeus greatly, as he had purposefully denied man the gift of fire, and in order to give man fire, Prometheus had to steal it from Zeus. Some believe that Prometheus stole it from Zeus through means of one of his lightning bolts, others believe it was fire from the forge of Hephaestus.

As a punishment, Zeus chained Prometheus to a giant rock far off in the Caucasus Mountains where no one would be able to find him.
Zeus tortured Prometheus daily, by sending an eagle to feast upon his liver, which would grow back in time for the next day–that is until Heracles found Prometheus, killed the eagle and freed Prometheus from his imprisonment.

Prometheus wasn’t the only one to suffer Zeus’ wrath though, instead, he aimed to punish both brothers for the missteps of Prometheus. Hephaestus was asked by Zeus to create Pandora, the first woman, out of clay and water, and modeled her after the goddess Aphrodite.
intending her to be a punishment for Epimetheus and mankind, so each god and goddess gave Pandora gift–beauty, wisdom, charm, music, curiosity, persuasion, kindness, generosity, peace, and health, some of which could be used for good and some which could be used for evil.

Zeus sent Pandora to Earth to be Epimetheus’ wife and despite Prometheus’ warning of Zeus’ two-faced nature, to not accept any gifts from the gods, Epimetheus had fallen in love with Pandora from the moment he laid eyes upon her and wanted to marry her immediately. As a wedding present, Zeus gave Pandora a box and attached to the box was a note stating that it was never to be opened, but included a key regardless.

Pandora's Box
Artwork by Carlo Perugini

Due to one of her many gifts from the gods and goddesses, Pandora ached to see what kind of treasures were hidden inside–eventually, her overwhelming curiosity got the better of her; when Epimetheus was out of sight, she grabbed the key and unlocked the box. Upon its opening, a plague of buzzing moths escaped from within; Pandora had thusly released horrible things. This plague of moths bestowed mankind with greed, envy, hatred, pain, disease, hunger, poverty, war, and death. All of the miseries of life had been released upon the world before Pandora was able to slam the lid of the box closed. Her guilt overtook her, and she curled up crying for what she had done, when Epimetheus came to see what was wrong she told him what she had done.

A small voice emerged from within the box, but neither of them could understand what was being said–knowing that she had already done as much damage as she could, Pandora again opened the box to show Epimetheus the box was now empty. Except, there was one moth left which flew out upon her opening the box a second time. This last moth was the embodiment of hope, and it was the only thing that allowed humans to stay positive enough to survive the wickedness that Pandora had unleashed upon the world.

The term “Pandora’s Box” now epitomizes anything that is virtually unknown, but is best left alone, for the fear of what might come from being too curious.