Monsters as Metaphors: A list for Halloween and beyond...
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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The power of monsters in popular culture lies not in their superficial abilities to scare children, but in the deeper elements of meaning that we associate with these creatures--the facets of their physiology which are drawn from the real world that terrifies us everyday. For example, the movie Cloverfield was a great success here in the states, despite a superficial resemblance to the disappointing tristar Godzilla of a few years prior. Was it simply better writing and special effects that helped one film succeed? I think not--Cloverfield used the images and window dressing of terrorist attack to create a much more urgent and topical fear in American audiences, whereas Emmerich's Godzilla behaved no differently than my cat would, if she were 300 feet long (and on top of that, it was generally just really crappy). By giving shape to our fears, we can more openly face them, and even be entertained by them. For my debut Geeklist, I thought it would be fun to discuss some classic monsters from film and tradition, and see how geeks from around the world view the things that go bump in our subconcious. Let's have fun--what scares you folks? Please try and keep this list going through the Dark Holiday--I really want you guys to add everything you can here, there's so many people here who's opinion I respect. Be creative!

I will add to this list as I think of things--consider it a work in progress.

I hope everyone has a happy, scary Halloween, and may those lost to us be remembered on Dia de los Muertos.
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1. Board Game: Fury of Dracula (second edition) [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:402]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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Xenophobia--fear of the foreign. Dracula is often regarded as a symbol of immigration--the non-Christian plague that scared the genteel citizens of the western world. He loathes the Christian cross. He associates with gypsies, practices polygamy, and casts no reflection (meaning he does not look like everyone else). Dracula is here to take our women, wreck our health, blight our farmland, make a mockery of our beliefs and ethics. Maybe building a giant fence will keep him out??
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2. Board Game: Vampire: Prince of the City [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:3524]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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Class warfare. Modern vampires, the sort of decadent hedonists popularized by Anne Rice and White Wolf, seem to put a pale, red-lipped face on the generally obvious discrepancy between the haves and have-nots. The disturbing thing about this trend is that the vampires are often presented not as unholy monsters in this context, but as the glamorous rock stars we should aspire to be. We seek to alleviate our suffering not by putting a stake into the heart of our oppressor, but by finding our own poor sap to exsanguinate...
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3. Board Game: Ultimate Werewolf: Ultimate Edition [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:673] [Average Rating:7.10 Unranked]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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Men and misogyny. It is easy to see lycanthropy as a sort of ultimate male fantasy--the hairy, primal hunter free from the concerns of civilization. The pack leader. I had a friend once who insisted that males were the stronger sex, and therefore the 'more important' sex for species preservation because they 'protected' the females. I suggested that historically, the only thing men have really had to 'protect' women from is other men.
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4. Board Game: Night of the Slasher [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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The Moral Majority! Whenever two teenagers have the gall to take the missionary position in a horror flick, we are almost guaranteed an immediate double impalement. Doing cocaine? Icepick up your nose. Smoke pot? It's a gateway drug to getting a pitchfork in your intestines. Leftist intellectual? Die sniveling in a corner, trying to hide, as the righteous axe of judgement kisses your corpus callosum. Slashers show us that we will pay for our little sins...in blood.
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5. Board Game: Godzilla Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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Nuclear War. My personal greatest fear, coming of age in the 80's. I watched 'the Day After', against my parents wishes, and it screwed me up pretty good. Of course, this is hardly a concern nowadays. The cold war is over, after all. Yep, no way we have to worry about nukes anymore... Now why do I still feel that tingle of unease?
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6. Board Game: King Kong [Average Rating:5.03 Unranked]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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The Third World. What would Kong be without his devoted followers, the screaming hordes of dark skinned tribal stereotypes, noses pierced with bones, who demand final payback from the wealthy white men for their acts of exploitative plunder? In the end, the native's fury is unfulfilled--The unstoppable moloch of western civilization, played by the immortal city of New York, lets Kong glimpse its terrifying heights for just a brief moment, before discarding him as passe, a corpse in an alley. King Kong dies every single day, again and again, and the real giant monster keeps on growing.
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7. Board Game: Mall of Horror [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1239]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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Consumerism! Zombies have been enjoying increasing popularity over the last few decades because they are so versatile as symbols. Being soulless human husks, they will probably appear on this list several times in different contexts. Here, I consider their use by George Romero as symbols for mindless consumption, a legion of unthinking creatures crowding our malls in search of new flesh to eat. This is not the most effective use of zombies anymore, of course, as the poor things have been solidly co-opted by the corporate machine. Only a matter of time before they get their own sitcom pilot.
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8. Board Game: Frankenstein's Children [Average Rating:5.18 Unranked]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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Science! Of course, Frankenstein's monster maintains his popularity due to his own versatility as a metaphor, but he always seems to best represent the foolish arrogance of science. One day, our desire to play god will get us killed. And of course there's always the 'slippery slope' effect--after all, once you've created one monster, you're going to need to give it a bride...
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9. Board Game: Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:539] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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Disease. Sometimes it seems like our entire infrastructure is designed to facilitate the spread of pandemic disease. Huge cities with international airports where the bulk of the population can spread a germ from one country bumpkin to a hundred metropolises in a matter of days. And now with national healthcare being put to death in America, the country of trade, it's just a matter of time till the real zombie apocalypse puts "undeath" on the standard list of preexisting conditions for insurance providers to avoid.
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10. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:237] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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Human frailty. H.P. Lovecraft is a goldmine of metaphors--he was weird, paranoid, prejudiced in all sorts of embarrassing ways...All of this is reflected in his writing. But most commonly, we see his spineless academic heroes driven to quivering insanity by the sight of a very large frog, or some such, and the realization that we are just a tiny interruption in a story of unending chaos billions of years old already. His heroes were there to remind us of the futility of our efforts in the face of inevitable universal entropy. Nice skyscraper, man--in ten thousand years, it'll be dust. Have a nice day.
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11. Board Game: Intruder [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:4490]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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Solitude. Alone against the monster, again our greatest fear is our own lack of knowledge and preparation. What was that noise???
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12. Board Game: The Awful Green Things From Outer Space [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1629]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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Communism, Socialism, any -ism, really. I chose this in absence of an 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' game... An absence that I find surprising. This is another fear that one might suspect had disappeared after 'freedom' came to the USSR. But anyone who's been following the American healthcare debacle debate has seen that many of us still fear a massive government forcing robot-like conformity upon the populace that we would rather watch our loved ones suffer through a lack of adequate medical care than risk putting too much control in the hands of our faceless rulers.

edited for spelling.
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13. Board Game: Ghost Stories [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:192]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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The sins of the fathers... Ghost--the word itself has a common usage as anything from the past which haunts us. Ghosts are the permanent stain of mankind's most heinous acts: war, slavery, rape, murder... Can we ever put these spirits to rest?
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14. Board Game: Witch of Salem [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1548]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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Women! If a woman ever gets any kind of power, it can only be satanic in nature. Such is the lesson from hundreds of years of witch-hunts. Systemic sexual inequality is reflected in our religion, politics, and art. Maybe we males are just a bunch of werewolves after all!
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15. Board Game: Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:1683]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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Kids today! Am I right? Every generation sees the following generation as a horde of ruinous violent monsters--even people in my own peer group have begun to grumble about how there's so much more drug use and sex in high schools today than when we were in (I don't think they were paying very close attention when we were in school). And of course, the cold war accelerated the corruption of our young, so what better icon for the children of the nuclear age than mutants. First came the hippies, then the C.H.U.D.s
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16. Board Game: The HellGame [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:3873]
Randy Schaub
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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The Church! Bear with me here--the devil is often his own metaphor, but what is he really? What is the real organ of judgement on earth? I've always felt that Satan served as a sort of cosmic truant officer for the church itself--if we let our behavior fall out of line, then he gets a crack at us. If we compared the numbers of people killed in the name of Satan with the numbers killed in the name of Christ (reference witches, above), then the real monster is obvious!

Not an endorsement of satanism.
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17. Board Game: They've Invaded Pleasantville [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:8622]
David Heldt
United States
Harper Woods
Michigan
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Two panzer jocks in the South Seas hoping that soon they'll get lei'd--
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Just because you asked--
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