The baddest of them all

The baddest of them all

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The monsters of our imaginations are all scary. Anais Ross looks at which one can claim to be most terrifying

With the scariest day of the year upon us, we will be confronted with a host of monsters. Each has its own qualities - some scarier than others.

Frankenstein

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Frankenstein was not a cold-blooded killer - and he was most certainly not a monster. But Dr Victor Frankenstein created a monster by cobbling one together from body parts robbed from graves.

The result, with its tell-tale neck bolts, is usually mistakenly given the name of its creator.

Larger than life and with a knee-less stagger, Frankenstein's monster was the creation of author Mary Shelley.

Shelley and Frankenstein's 'monster' first came to the silver screen in the 1931 Universal Pictures movie, Frankenstein, which depicted him as a ruthless - sending shivers down the spine.

Fear Factor: Looks scarier than he really is. Has a maximum speed of about 6 kilometres an hour so not much of a threat: a gentle beast built in the wrong village at the wrong time.

Vampires

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The Twilight franchise has led the latest revival of the vampire genre - from novels to movies and television series. Stephanie Meyers has romanticised the blood-sucking stereotype for teenagers around the world. Despite their current heart-throb status, vampires were originally coffin sleepers and entered the popular imagination during the Dark Ages.

They are a legacy of Transylvanian tyrant Vlad the Impaler (1431-76), who ate bread dipped in the blood of his enemies and impaled thousands during his reign.

Vlad served as the inspiration for Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, which made the transition to the screen with Dracula (1931), The Horror of Dracula (1958) and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992).

Well known vampire traits include the ability to metamorphose into a variety of creatures - most notably bats. You can protect yourself with mustard seeds and eating garlic - and a giveaway is they have no reflection in mirrors.

Fear Factor: Vicious and cunning, these creatures also have an uncanny ability to seduce their targets. Those attracted by bad-boy fantasy should be on alert.

Zombies

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Another member of the undead family, these indestructible reanimated bodies have their origin in African-Caribbean mythology and move slowly because they are basically rotting away like Frankenstein. Zombies prefer to dine on brains and flesh than blood and are not as smart as vampires.

While zombies may be disadvantaged physically in combat, their strength comes from their inability to feel pain and their tendency to travel in large packs, overwhelming their victims.

Zombie movies are a staple of the horror film genre, with countless gory films such as Dawn of the Dead (1978), 28 Days Later (2002) and Night of the Living Dead (1968).

Fear Factor: Epitomising all that's most horrifying about death, these creatures have the power to unnerve, disgust and make you sick to your stomach.

Werewolves

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Super-strong and extra-sensitive, the lycanthrope, or werewolf, is half-man, half-wolf, distinguishable from normal wolves by their lack of a tail. People become werewolves at full moon usually, and can regenerate their physical tissue, making themselves resistant to ageing and human diseases. They are vulnerable to silver, though.

Unlike most other monsters, werewolves are warm-blooded and alive - making them the most passionate and aggressive - in contrast with the cool, collected vampire, the stumbling Frankenstein and the mindless zombie.

According to European mythology, you have to be physically attacked by a werewolf or placed under a curse to turn into one. Native Americans used to wear skins of wolves to acquire special powers.

Vampires and werewolves are connected. In the Middle Ages, those accused of being werewolves were cremated rather than buried so they couldn't come back to life as vampires.

Fear Factor: Perhaps most well-rounded in terms of the fear factor, the werewolf's ability to revert to human form only makes it even scarier when you think about it, but perhaps not scariest of all.

And the winner is ...

Each monster feasts on different fears. The monsters of our imagination prey on exactly that - the imagination that brought them into being. None of us want to be visited by them, but judging by their current popularity, perhaps it's the vampire that should take the No 1 position - intelligence, good looks and an insatiable taste for blood.

Anais is a Tiger Reporter of the Young Post Reporters Club

Your turn

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