Those of you who plan to hand out Halloween treats tonight may feel haunted by this question. How can you tell the real monsters from the impostors? The tell-tale signs can be found in the Common Features of American Monsters section of Monsters: Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts, and All Manner of Imaginary Terrors by David D. Gilmore.
According to Gilmore, frightening appearance is just one of many traits to watch out for. Also be on guard for the following:
"anticultural propensities" (as if cannibalism wasn’t bad enough)
"an anomalous relationship to human chronology."
American monsters tend to dwell in places such as:
the bowels of the earth
in or near water
"the boundary between the known and the unknown, between human and animal, between civilization and wilderness."
Does the beast answer to any of these names?
Hopi Monster Woman
Now comes the tricky part. Does the creature in question inspire "respect and even religious veneration as well as fear?" Is he/she/it "evil and divine, more and less than human, repellent and fascinating?"
If any trick-or-treaters who come to your door this evening display one or more of these traits, you had best hide your M&M’s.