Well the weather outside was briefly frightful, but there’s worse waiting out in the snow than slippery roads and cold feet. Every flurry hides a horror that waits to prey upon the uncertain and the weak, every snowdrift has teeth that threaten to sink through thick coats and into nice warm flesh. So this festive season, let’s focus on the scariest part of winter, the beasts that haunt the tundra, and frozen places.
Here are our Top 10 monsters that wait for you out there in the snow.
10) Nazi Zombies – Dead Snow
A strange pick to begin with, let’s start with some nazi zombies. Dead Snow was a horror comedy film released in 2009, which sets out that a bunch of nazi’s invaded a village in Finnland. These nazi’s caused trouble until the end of the war, where they were driven out of the village, many of whom were killed in the uprising of the locals. Those who survived were ran out into the mountains, where they presumably froze to death.
So with that premise, there’s no surprise there are undead nazi’s roaming around what should be a picturesque mountain in Finnland! Nevertheless, these monsters in the snow are often killed in comedic ways, but it’s all a little bit on the gruesome side. A fun watch, albeit a little bit simple, it’s good to pass some time if you’re a bit of a horror fan. Borrowing from a nest of tropes, the blood and guts should be enough to entertain you.
9) Rhemoraz – Dungeons & Dragons
I’ve got plans to discuss setting expectations in roleplaying games and how to safely and confidently subvert them. The rhemoraz will probably pop up somewhere in that discussion. See, when your party travel to the frozen, barbarian haunted wastelands that are inevitably up north because we’re from the northern hemisphere, the advice is to dress warm and be ready to take a lot of cold damage from the natives.
The monstrous millipede that predates on frost giants and mammoths has a simple counter to all of the above. To burrow through ice as hard as rock and to digest creatures with the fat and musculature to survive the frozen poles, they have an internal body temperature so high that it burns to stand too close, and it hurts even more to be swallowed by the things. To check for rhemorazes, look for icy patches with frozen bubbles, and if you find pools of boiling water, it’s already too late.
8) Giants – Praey for the Gods
On a snow covered island await enormous creatures, they just woke up, they’re irritable, and you kind of look like breakfast. It’s a mixture of Shadow of the Collosus, the Long Dark, and hints of Skyrim, you have to survive in the cold, looking for food and materials you need to survive through the day and to fend off the various smaller horrors that are waiting for you, as you journey between the ancient gods, bringing them down one at a time.
And the Gods, the strange, horrifying giants that slumber in this wasteland, are enormous, fur-covered horrors that look like they have been dead for a long time, part stone shrine, part organic beasties possessed of incredible power that matches their monstrous size. These things, once held as divine totems, must be slain if you are to live, if you are to ever escape this place.
Not quite sure on the reasons for that, but I’ve got the game on my wishlist, seen a couple of lets-plays of early gameplay, looks pretty!
7) Chillerpillar – Magic: the Gathering
Oh we flipped between a lot of things for Magic. There’s the Thing in the Ice as well as a whole lot of snow-creatures, like the Abominable Treefolk, Frostwalla, and the Icehide Golem, but come on! Look at it, it’s Mothra as a card! It’s the woolly butterfly, it’s basically what the Monstrosity mechanic from Theros was made for, a creature that transforms and gains incredible power from it’s transformation.
Ok, there are easier ways to get a 5/5 flying creature, ways that don’t require snow permanents, and don’t require you to create a 3/3 caterpillar first, that’s quite a lot of investment of mana over the course of two rounds to get the chillerfly… but it’s so pretty, and so huge!
6) The Mountains of Madness – H.P. Lovecraft
Ok, the mountains aren’t the creature, let’s get that out of the way now.
One of the most adapted Lovecraft books, somewhere on the list after Shadow over Innsmouth and Call of Cthulhu, the Mountains of Madness is one of the better books for selling us the idea that this planet does not belong to us and that we are far from the first intelligent race in the universe and most certainly not on our planet. The Great Old Ones have research facilities built on the north pole, although possibly before the continent was that cold.
So why aren’t they there now? Well, they’re a curious breed, and they like to dissect things out of curiosity, and they stumbled across something else of equally unknown origin, something that tore them to pieces, and when an arctic exploration team goes poking around the strange geometric structures millenia later, they are in turn pulled apart. For reference see Edge of Nowhere, Conarium, and… another entry later in our list.
5) Frankenstein’s Monster
Could we forget good ol’ Frank’s Monster?
“But Tim, Joel, you IDIOTS. Frankenstein’s Monster wasn’t in the snow.”
Alas, we all know that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was written to include an arctic expedition. The creature isn’t known for having been fond of the snow, for sure, but the story progresses to where Frankenstein’s Monster escapes to the snow, where he is basically hunted down. You can make arguments for or against Frankenstein’s Monster here, but all we know is that he ends up out there, even if he isn’t too fond of the “white ground”.
4) Wendigo – Until Dawn
One of the most interesting mythological beasties to come out of the Americas is the spirit of a human who has eaten human flesh, and undergone the transformation that turns them into a feral horror that can consume nothing else. The version in Until Dawn was a lot more substantial than a mere spirit, and lacks the antlers typical of most renditions, (like the upcoming film Antlers, really looking forward to that one) but there’s something just as terrifying about the long limbed horror that stalks through the snow.
Until Dawn is a branching horror survival narrative, in which characters may all get to live, or may all die outside in the cold, devoured by the twisted mutant cannibals, agile, capable predators who were once human, humans known to the characters that gave into their hunger and desperation, and were driven mad by the need to consume. Better yet, you don’t just see it in abandoned journals and clues, you get to see it in real time, as one of your party slowly caves in under pressure.
3) Abomasnow – Pokémon
Part abominable snowman, part tree, Abomnasnow is the snowiest of all Pokémon. This angry creature stands around and waves its arms in the air, shouting horrible names at you as it brings in a hailstorm to help damage its opponents quickly. Truly a chilling foe to meet across the Pokémon stadium.
This creature of part-ice part-grass, has a bit of an interesting niche on hail teams. In the game it was introduced, Abomnasnow was a well regarded staple of the Underused Smogon meta, although it did get banned. Then in Gen V, it came back with a vengeance, posing an interesting threat to a lot of dragons in the game.
Don’t underestimate a well put together Abomnasnow!
2) The Thing – The Thing
I want to start by saying that the prequel would have been better if they’d kept the practical effects they’d been making to start with, but I still liked it!
Arctic explorers beware, we were not the first things to gain sentience on this planet (stop me if you’ve heard this one) and one of those creatures lives still. It’s hungry, driven by a need for survival and to escape into a world full of living things to devour and mimic. Capable of consuming by touch, but also more than happy to produce large, toothy maws wherever convenient in order to break a body down for easier integration.
The most famous part of John Carpenter’s Apocalypse trilogy, the Thing is most like the Shoggoths of Lovecraft’s mythos, but the 80’s film was set in a time of cold war paranoia and hysteria. No one can be trusted, not even your best friend or your next door neighbour, they might be in league with the Russians… or they might eat you and take your shape.
1) Yeti – Ski Free
For number one, we had to go for the most fearsome of all of the monsters. Sorry HP Lovecraft, sorry Frankenstein, sorry The Thing. None of you are able to hold a candle to the true terror of the ski slopes. The nightmarish fiend who’ll devour you whole, the moment you tread too closely to his home. Indeed, for we’re taking you back to the year of 1991, when PC games were a whole lot more dangerous.
If you were to ski down the slopes of Ski Free, created by Chris Pirih for Windows and DOS, you would eventually encounter a rather angry little Yeti. He’d chase you down and if you were unlucky enough, you’d be caught and eaten by the snowy little monster.
Don’t worry, that won’t happen to you for real. I don’t think. Anyway, no one’s ever come back to tell us that these yeti are real.
Are you feeling frosty yet? No? Well then, let’s warm you up a little bit before sending you to the north. Here’s two more cold monsters who are more of conceptual monsters than they are actual snow monsters. Kind of.
Tomorrow Corporation – Little Inferno
Capitalistic nightmares, Tomorrow Corporation profiteer off children and child-like minds in the most trivial of ways. They sell you junk intended for you to literally burn. To take your money and burn it, to some riveting special effects at least. What a lovely photo album, best burn it. What nice spiders, they’ll be good to smoosh for extra cash. Oh, popcorn? The results are too numerous to count.
However as I mentioned, the real monster isn’t the person doing the burning. It’s the Tomorrow Corporation themselves, as they profit off the state of the world. As the perpetual snow and cold consumes the country, with the weatherman at a constant state of alert, this corporation profit off you as you are forced to stay indoors to keep warm.
But then how does this consumerist junk keep getting to your home? Truly a mystery. Oh well, back to burning stuff.
The Undead – Warcraft
More specifically, the Scourge. The Undead or the Scourge are notorious for taking over Northrend, the frozen capital of Azeroth. The snow falls hard and the Lich King himself sits upon the Frozen Throne. This made up both a major plot point for the MMORPG World of Warcraft, along with Warcraft 3’s expansion, The Frozen Throne. Arthas Menethil is one busy death knight.
Nevertheless, the scourge are as cold as they are relentless. They have no regard for the lives of the people of Azeroth. They don’t care for your politics, your kings and queens. They live only to serve and they are all bound by Frostmourne. They all serve the Lich King, Ner’zhul.
Another week and another top 10 is over; what did you make of this week’s list? Did you think we included all of the best snowy monsters out there, or did we forget the best snow monster of them all? As ever, please leave us a vote for what you’d like to see us cover next week and we’ll see you here again next Saturday for another festive-themed Top 10 list.