A brief classification essay sorting monsters by their weaknesses.
| The Wolfman, Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Jaws, The Walking Dead…Monsters! Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, Demons, Nature Gone Wrong, these are monsters that have pervaded myth, legend, folklore, and the media for almost as long as any of those things has been around. So if one decides to come calling some dark and dreary evening, what would it be best to know about monsters in general? Well…the first thing to know is how to kill the thing, since monsters are dangerous by definition and tend to be tricky to kill as a result. In combat, it is wise to know one’s enemy, and in this case that is especially true.
If we focus on the five most common types of monster, we can quickly identify the five most effective weaknesses to use against them: Silver, Sunlight, Holy Items, Decapitation, and Fire. Those five weaknesses apply to many more monsters as well, but here we shall just deal with our five most common. We’ll also discuss these five weaknesses in order from the most specific, less often useful to the most common, wide-ranging and effective tool in a monster-hunter’s arsenal.
So just for the sake of clarity, let us establish that a monster is: an inhuman creature we may need to defend ourselves against. For the sake of illustration, five of the most common ‘species’ of monster will be used as examples here: Werewolves, Vampires, Zombies, Demons, and Nature Gone Wrong (man-eating and/or giant animals, Jaws, Kujo, The Ghost and The Darkness, etc.) These will be the examples we use through-out this article because they are all well-known and documented in media from movies to novels to history, legend, and folklore, and each is vulnerable to at least one of our five tools: Silver, Sunlight, Holy Items, Decapitation, or Fire.
Silver, the Lunar Metal, long attributed religious significance due to its association with the moon; it has been attributed powers of cleansing, purification, and clarity of the mind (thanks to its use in mirrors). It has also been used as currency for a substantial portion of known human history. It is most useful as a sure and certain way to slay a werewolf: by piercing its heart with silver. Today most safely done with the form of a bullet, spears, arrow-heads, and even daggers have been used in ages past. Silver is also known to slow or outright negate the healing powers of most monsters, weakening them. And since silver is still a very hard, heavy metal in a mundane sense, it is much like a hammer: designed for nails, but does a number on thumbs, too. Silver can be used to great effect against anything vulnerable to physical damage, but is most effective against werewolves.
Sunlight, also known as The Divine Truth, was God’s First Act: to bring forth light in the darkness. Christian or otherwise, many religions attribute holy significance to sunlight, and for good reason. Without it, human life would not have been possible. Often attributed powers of cleansing, revealing the truth, banishing sin and the wicked, and being the antithesis of evil and darkness, sunlight acts as a deterrent to all evil, even the dishonesty of men who commit their crimes under cover of darkness. It is Vampires who are most vulnerable to sunlight, with no records of one having ever survived direct exposure for more than a few seconds. This is contrary to modern fiction, but one mustn’t be fooled by propaganda when clear historical evidence exists. There are several ways to kill a Vampire. Direct exposure to sunlight is easily the preferred method. Sunlight also deters other monsters, robbing them of their greatest advantage: the ability to see in the dark. Note, however, that Nature Gone Wrong might not give a hoot what time of day it is. Sunlight applies there only on a case by case basis. That being said, it is still in one’s best interest to maximize one’s own advantages, and visibility is the key to many of those.
Churches, relics, holy men, holy water, hallowed ground, and other items of intense religious significance seem to have a strong effect on the forces of evil. It should not be taken for granted that all monstrous forces are inherently evil, however. Prayer recited by the faithful, signs of faith boldly brandished, and supplication to one’s deity of choice directly have all been known to be highly effective against inherently evil beings such as vampires and their undead servants, and of course demons. Monsters of natural occurrence will be completely unfazed. Dire Animals will most likely not even notice, while werewolves seem oblivious unless the poor devil was deeply spiritual in the first place. Hallowed ground and places of worship have also been used as sanctuary against the hordes of shambling zombies.
Decapitation, or separation of the head from other vital organs, has often been the preferred method of executing criminals. This may be due to some measure of confidence that the executed won’t be coming back to bother the living again later, or simply due to this method’s broad-scale effectiveness. Most useful against Vampires, this method has also been highly effective against werewolves, dire animals, and even zombies of some varieties while retaining the great benefit of being an effective deterrent to the criminal element. Tactically speaking, this technique boasts the advantage of disorienting even an enemy resilient enough to survive the process. On the other hand, lack of cooperation from the target, the considerable physical effort required under all but ideal circumstances, and possible location compromise when using mechanical assistance such as chainsaws or other industrial machinery make it less than ideal. If the nature of the enemy is unknown, this method may not slay them but it will certainly narrow down the possibilities while being highly unpleasant for the recipient.
Fire (stolen from the gods by Prometheus and given as a gift to mankind) is without doubt the most universal method for dealing with monsters of all shapes and sizes. In more modern terms, fire is what happens when a few gallons of gas and a zippo get together for a party. This is the author’s favorite method because it is usually the simplest from a logistical stand-point, and because there are just so many uses for it even beyond monster-hunting. One should be aware, though, that fire will only annoy (or possibly amuse) a demon, a d'jinn will be entirely unaffected, a salamander starts its own fires, and zombies refuse to stand still, even when being cooked well-done. However, if done safely and responsibly, fire is still the most effective method for taking down a zombie horde while conserving ammunition, no vampire is known to have survived the ordeal if their remains are properly disposed of, no werewolf is known to have survived complete incineration, and most animals (monstrous or otherwise) have a very healthy fear of fire. Very difficult to control or predict, fire must be used with extreme caution under controlled situations or dire circumstances.
So there we have it: The Big Five monster weaknesses: Silver, Sunlight, Holy Items, Decapitation, and Fire, discussed in order from most specific and limited to most wide-ranging and general-use, with advice and general rules for using them. When taken individually, one can more easily see how the most well-known monster types fit into each category, with some of them fitting into multiple categories to differing degrees. Fire may work splendidly against zombies and it’ll do in a pinch against a werewolf, while a demon will simply laugh a bit louder. Knowing as much as one can about these five weaknesses and which monsters they are most effective against will help prepare one for even the most dire of horror movie plot cliches. Happy Hunting!