Why do Scarecrows Scare People?
Scarecrows have been used by farmers for thousands of years to keep intrusive animals out of their fields. In fact, scarecrows have been around as long as agriculture itself. Farmers in ancient times learned from the fact that birds and other animals would avoid human figures, and would place scarecrows in their fields to protect crops.
But why are people scared of them too? When did the tradition of the horror scarecrow start? You would think that a simple representation of a human, with a well-understood, mundane purpose, wouldn't inspire any shivers. But today, scarecrows are accepted as one of horror's typical monsters, alongside zombies, vampires, and crazed supernatural murderers.
The biggest irony is that some birds don't care in the least about scarecrows, so they just scare humans, not their intended targets. Many animals get used to the stationary humanlike figure and just ignore it. This has led to the invention of more advanced types of scarecrows like Japan's Super Monster Wolf, a robotic canine beast with glowing eyes and a roar sound effect. It's funny that we have to go to these lengths to scare animals, but humans continue to be frightened by nothing more than burlap and ratty old clothes stuffed with straw!
So, let's take a closer look at scarecrows and what makes them scary.
Jason Voorhees: Changing the Meaning of Summer Camp
What do you think of when you see a classic hockey mask? Our bet is that the actual game of hockey doesn't come to mind. Instead, you probably imagine a supernaturally resilient serial killer exterminating summer camp counselors with extreme prejudice. Thanks to the Friday the 13th series, the hockey mask inspires visions of mass murder by a machete-wielding maniac out for revenge: the indestructible Jason Voorhees.
Pennywise the Clown: Stephen King's Take on Every Kid's Worst Nightmare
Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Sounds innocent enough, right? If you've never read Stephen King's IT, or seen the film and TV adaptations, you might think the name conjures a friendly image of a happy clown entertaining children with a funny dance. Of course, if you are familiar with Pennywise, you know nothing could be further from the truth. And if you're one of the millions of adults suffering from coulrophobia (the deep-rooted fear of clowns we've discussed in a past article), Pennywise will terrify you whether you know the truth or not!
Clowns can be scary enough on their own, it's true. But Pennywise takes this a step further, as the clown persona is just a disguise IT uses to lure in vulnerable children. Its true form is impossible to understand and drives people insane just by looking at it, and it appears on Earth as a massive pregnant spider, which brings to mind all sorts of terrible implications. If that's not a perfect recipe for horror, we don't know what is.
Now, if you're ready, we'll delve a bit into the backstory and mythology of Stephen King's most notorious villain.
If we had to pick one monster that stands out as the most popular today, it would have to be the zombie. Whether they’ve become zombies by catching a disease or by dying and being brought back wrong, whether they’re mindless, shuffling hordes of undead or lightning-fast predators, the scariest thing about zombies is that they used to be human — and if you’re not careful, you could end up as one too! All it takes is to be bitten, or in some cases, not even that much. In the film 28 Days Later, a character got infected simply by getting a drop of zombie blood in his eye.
That’s part of what makes zombies so scary. They might be easy enough to kill (although that depends on the story), but it’s even easier for them to add to their numbers. Human survivors fighting for their lives know that for every one of their companions that dies, there’s a good chance another zombie will be raised.
But what exactly is a zombie, and why have they become such a force in pop culture? We could go over the history of zombies in cinema and television, all the way from Night of the Living Dead to the modern TV sensation of The Walking Dead, but that won’t really explain why zombies are popular. The answer to that question lies in folklore, history, and the darkest fears of the human mind.
Why are People Afraid of Clowns?