Always Angry, Always Scary: Female Monsters from Around the World
The world has a lot to say about women, and when people come up with woman monsters, they tend to be the most terrifying around! No matter what culture or part of the world that we are looking at, some of the scariest monsters, the ones that strike when we are asleep or when we are at our most vulnerable, are female.
The nights of Southeast Asia are full of monsters, but none is quite as chilling as the penanggalan. This monster was once a beautiful young woman or perhaps an old woman who made herself beautiful through the use of black magic. By day she lives as normally as anyone else, but at night, her head flies off of her body, trailing her organs behind her. She floats around preying on young children and pregnant women, and when she finds them, she drinks their blood or eats their flesh. In the morning, she must soak her entrails in a vat of vinegar until they have shrunk enough to slide back into her body.
In Jamaica, she is called the River Mumma, and in the United Kingdom, she might be called Jenny Greenteeth or Peg Power. Regardless of what you call her, she looks like an ugly old woman who lives in the water, and if you don’t watch out, she reaches out her long thin arms and pulls you in. Her favorite prey depends on the area, but it is typically young children, old people, or young men who are too drunk to defend themselves.
Japan is a place of singular monsters, and none is as distinctive as Kuchisake-onna, also known as the split-face woman. At night, you might run into a woman wearing a white medical mask, and if you are by yourself, she might take it off to reveal that both sides of her face, from the corners of her mouth to her ears, are split wide open. She’ll ask you if she’s pretty or ugly, and what you need to do to save yourself depends on the person telling the story. It’s not clear whether you should say ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘you’re only so-so’ to this lady!
No matter who you listen to, La Llorona is a woman who lost her children. Sometimes she killed her children to get back at a cheating husband, and sometimes, she let them die of neglect. Either way, after her death, she was cursed to wander the roads of Mexico and the Southwest United States. On quiet nights, you can hear her crying and perhaps even see her walking along the side of the road. Don’t stop for her, though. She’s still looking for children to drown, and if she can’t find kids, a young man will do.
In Poland, once it was common to think that a woman could be born with two sets of teeth, two hearts, and two souls. When this fact was discovered, that person would be chased away from her village and left to die. However, when she did die, only one of her souls would go on to the afterlife. The other would stay in her body, and she would be consumed by the urge to suck out the blood of the living. A spookier version of the legend has her eating people from the inside out. A strzyga could only be killed by decapitation, at which point, her head would have to be buried far away from her body.