It’s a little-known anniversary, but November 12, 1933 was a day that changed history forever — because it was the day that Hugh Gray took what is commonly accepted to be the first-ever photograph of the Loch Ness monster.
Now, given that the monster is little-more than an urban myth, quite what he actually photographed is unclear, but the photo reignited debate over whether or not there was a Nessie, and brought back a sense of (admittedly cynical) wonder about many such fictional beasties in the process. To mark this momentous occasion, then, perhaps you should line up a binge viewing of 10 titles all about monsters and myths that have crept into the public consciousness.
KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER (1974)
When it comes to exploring stories that everybody knows, this short-lived 1970s TV series is the alpha, if not the omega — we’ll come to that in a second. Newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak just can’t help but trip over spooky, unexplained mysteries that just so happen to involve very familiar monsters. Vampires! Werewolves! UFOs! It’s all here.
THE X-FILES (1993)
And Kolchak is, of course, the spiritual father to this 1990s phenomenon, which took the Spooky-Goings-On-Of-The-Week formula far further than anyone could have imagined possible, introducing the great American public to the idea that there’s far more going on in the world than we could ever know about, especially because they won’t tell us.
CANDYMAN: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH (1995)
The second movie to bring the Candyman urban legend to life, this movie will have you worried to ever say anything in front of a mirror for fear of how things will turn out — especially if you live in New Orleans and happen to be afraid of mediocre-to-bad acting. The struggle is real.
BENEATH LOCH NESS (2002)
It’s the beastie herself — well, kind of, as this enjoyably bad monster movie will try and convince you that Nessie is quite literally a mankiller lurking in the not-so-deep depths of Loch Ness, just waiting to cause mischief. How dire are events? Only Patrick Bergin can save the day, so pretty damn dire.
BIGFOOT’S REFLECTION (2007)
It takes a lot out of a man, hunting for potentially imaginary beasts, as this Canadian documentary demonstrates. What kind of a person would hunt for Bigfoot? Apparently, the answer is different depending on whether you’re asking before or after they’ve started the hunt…
MONSTERQUEST: SEASON 1 (2007)
Of course, that horrifying transformation that turned monster hunter into monster isn’t necessarily always the case, otherwise the team behind this reality show that delves into such potentially otherworldly creatures would have undergone grotesque transformations midway through the first season of this over-the-top series. Of course, maybe they did.
THE ABCS OF DEATH (2012)
A fun international anthology of horror stories isn’t entirely based on urban legends and mythical beings, but with talking birds, fox-women and killer spiders, there’s enough to create a new folklore mythology from the 26 stories contained therein.
FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY (2013)
How can you make a Frankenstein story into the stuff of urban myths? By setting it in WWII, and deciding that the undead monster was a forerunner of an army of resurrected soldiers put to work by Nazi scientists. This isn’t something that people in the real world believed happened, but if we lived in an ideal world, it would have been.
The modern version of the urban legend is, of course, the made-for-cable TV movie, which makes Sharknado — the ridiculous, brilliant trashy disaster movie on steroids that asks the question “What do you get if you mix a tornado and sharks” to get the answer “I don’t know, but it’s weirdly watchable.” It’s at least as realistic as the idea of a dinosaur in a lake in Scotland, let’s be honest.
GET SANTA (2014)
And then there’s this guy: the biggest urban myth of them all. Sure, Nessie and Bigfoot have a certain cache, but there’s no-one better when it comes to convincing a world that he just might exist… especially the younger demographic. Plus, you know, we’re heading into the most wonderful time of the year…