From folklore to children’s tales, we have all heard the legends – Werewolves, the Frankenstein, and of course, Vampires (thanks for ruining that, Twilight).
But, while these classic monsters are no strangers to the spooky spotlight on Halloween, there are other lesser-known creatures that roam the dark.
As Halloween rolls around next week (Oct 31), we take a peek at 5 of the lesser-known monsters of the night. But do not let their subtlety fool you – not having a reputation gives these abominations an even deadlier edge – the element of surprise to catch you off guard this All Hallows’ Eve.
1. El Chupacabra
El Chupacabra or simply just Chupacabra is a vampiric creature that haunts various parts of North and Central America. Its name stems from the Spanish word chupar, which means ‘to suck’ and cabra, which stands for ‘goat’ (goats were allegedly its first few victims).
It was first sighted in Puerto Rico in 1995, where an initial attack on 150 animals left farmers horrified and confused. The attacked animals were nearly drained of blood and had puncture wounds on their necks.
While they may seem like vampires, appearance-wise, Chupacabras lack the attractiveness of a traditional vampire in human form, and are certainly not bats.
Eyewitnesses claimed to have seen a creature with “reptilian body, oval head, bulging red eyes, fanged teeth and long, darting tongue”. They can also grow to four feet tall (around 1.2 metres) and move fast – hopping around like a kangaroo.
Chupacabras are elusive and many have tried to capture the creature, to no avail. If you ever see one, be sure to keep your neck – and your house pets – out of sight from this bloodthirsty spawn of Dracula.
2. Nandi bear
Legend has it that in 1925, a six-year-old girl mysteriously vanished from her village in East Africa’s Uasin Gishu district. Some say she had been yanked violently through the thorn fence that surrounds her village.
And while outsiders may be bemused, the locals know better. Nandi bear, or otherwise known as the Brain-eating Bear, has claimed another victim.
Built like a fortified castle, the Nandi bear was reported to resemble a large hyena, with thick black fur, muscular shoulders, a sloping back and a long, pointed head. Additionally, it was said to only hunt at night, and has a ferocious appetite for brains.
The story goes that an adventurous colonial Captain by the name of William Hitchens heard of the attacks and decided for himself to catch the Nandi bear.
Like many others before him, Captain Hitchens, together with his trusty dog, embarked on a long and gruesome journey, interviewing eyewitnesses and tirelessly searching for the creature.
At one point in time though, tragedy struck, and Captain Hitchens’ faithful canine companion was snatched from his side; this only further strengthened the Captain’s resolve to find the beast that took his dog.
However, he never found it, nor did he ever find the dog.
In Hindu mythology, a Rakshasa is a malignant demon or goblin.
Hindu artists have throughout history, encapsulated the appearance of a Rakshasa in drawings; Rakshasas are commonly depicted to have fearsome side tusks, ugly eyes, awkwardly curled brows, and sometimes carry a variety of weapons (usually some type of blade).
They are powerful creatures (their power peaks during evening and night time) and have the ability to change their form, sometimes appearing as an animal and other times, appearing as a beautiful woman.
Rakshasas have a strong distaste for prayers and sacrifices, and will do harm to any who has the ill luck of crossing paths with them. In Hinduism, they are recorded as evil demons at war with prominent deities Rama and Hanuman.
A Changeling is an offspring of a fairy, troll or any legendary creature who has been secretly left in the place of a human infant. The actual child, after being swapped out, will usually become a servant to their new supernatural parents.
To prevent this from happening, parents are advised to leave simple charms beside their newborns. These include an inverted coat or a pair of open iron scissors.
According to Scottish folklore, if a human child is kidnapped even after their parents have taken said measures, the parents can force the supernatural abductor to return the child by mistreating the Changeling. Advisable methods include whipping the Changeling or putting it into an oven.
However, in a separate Swedish tale, a human mother is asked to abuse a Changeling so that the trolls will return her son. The mother refused, insisting that she could not hurt an innocent child, regardless of their nature.
Her husband then asked her to abandon the Changeling instead. Again, she refused. Infuriated, the husband leaves her to search for their original child. Some time later, he did find his son in the forest, wandering aimlessly, albeit unhurt.
When probed on his fate as the ‘son’ of a troll, the boy filled in the mental blanks for his father. As his human mother had never hurt the Changeling, the trolls, too, did not hurt him.
And when his mother stuck to her morals and gave up what was dearest to her (her husband) to care for the Changeling, the trolls realized they had no power over her, and they subsequently released her son.
While Changelings are not particularly scary, it is perhaps what they symbolize that makes them truly horrifying. This Halloween, do hold your children close and if possible, spam coats and iron around their room to ward away the Changelings’ supernatural parents.
Poltergeists are ghosts or supernatural entities that cause physical disturbances in an area – think a random object moving on its own.
The word Poltergeist has German roots, with poltern, meaning ‘to create a disturbance’ and Geist, which stands for ‘ghost’.
They are so menacing that a 1982 cult film classic was aptly named after them. In Poltergeist, a family is haunted by invisible entities that move furniture, break glasses and even abduct one of their daughters by luring her to a portal that leads to another dimension.
So, the next time the door leading to your bedroom slams shut or when a pen abruptly drops to the floor, do not blame these disturbances on the wind. Instead, dabble with the idea that the unexplained noises could be caused by something far more sinister.
And with that, have a spooktastic Halloween!