Sightings of monstrous apelike creatures lurking in the darkness of forests and mountainous regions of the world have been reported since the Middle Ages. In 840 C.E., Agobard, the Archbishop of Lyons, told of three such demons, "giant people of the forest and mountains," who were stoned to death after being displayed in chains for several days.
In April 2001, British zoologist Rob McCall presented a hair sample allegedly taken from a Himalayan Yeti to Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at the Oxford Institute of Molecular Medicine, one of the world's leading experts on DNA analysis.
There is no known culture on this planet that has not at one time or another cowered in fear because of the savage attacks of a nocturnal predator known as a therianthrope, a human-animal hybrid such as a werewolf, "werebear," "werelion," or a "were-something." Such creatures were painted by Stone Age artists more than 10,000 years ago and represent some of the world's oldest cave art—and they probably precipitated some of the world's first nightmares.
The novel Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus (1818) with its story of the daring scientist Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the monster made of human parts that he brought to life is one of the most famous works of fiction.
David J. Skal, author of The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror (1997), has made the observation that the history of horror entertainment closely parallels the great social traumas of the twentieth century.
In the summer of 2002, Romanian Tourism Minister Dan Agathon announced plans to build a Dracula theme park on a hilltop near the medieval town of Sighisoara, the birthplace of the fifteenth-century Romanian count Vlad Tepes (1431?–1476?), said to have been the inspiration for Bram Stoker's (1847–1912) famous vampire novel, Dracula (1897).
While so many of the mysterious creatures that are frightening and disturbing may belong completely to the realm of the supernatural and fanciful, judgment must be reserved concerning some of the monsters reported roaming the forests and jungles.
No monster in history has been pursued as actively as the creature that is said to inhabit the depths of Loch Ness in Scotland. Since 1936, there have been 27 recorded films taken of "Nessie" and hundreds of officially recorded sightings.
The giant squid, one of the most terrifying monsters of the sea, has never been seen alive. A member of the class Cephalopoda, which includes the octopus and the nautilus, the giant squid is the largest invertebrate in the world.
All cultures have their stories of the wee folk, the nature entities, that appear so often to be a mirror-image of humankind and somehow indicate that humans are part of a larger community of intelligences—both physical and nonphysical. Since the beginning of time, the human race and the wee folk have shared this planet, experiencing a strange, symbiotic relationship.
Even the most casual fan of Hollywood horror films is familiar with the classic creatures of movie monsterdom and the actors who portrayed them—such as the Frankenstein monster, as enacted by Boris Karloff (1887–1969); the Wolf Man, as played by Lon Chaney, Jr. (1906–1973); and the vampire Count Dracula, as immortalized by Bela Lugosi (1882–1956).