Within Doctor Who, there is a long and noble tradition of bringing some of the most fearsome creatures from classic horror into the world of the Doctor, in much the same way that common myths and legends are thrown in with genuine historical characters and entirely fresh and monstrous creations from all over the universe.
So, as it’s Halloween, here’s a selection of the moments when familiar beasties from the gory years of scary movies (pun intended) made their way into the Doctor’s presence, one creature at a time:
It makes perfect sense for Time Lords and vampires to be aware of one another. When you’re practically immortal, you’re bound to keep running into familiar faces if they’re not always getting older and passing on. The Fourth Doctor had a run-in with the King Vampire, last of an ancient race—the Great Vampires, no less—who had battled with the Time Lords and then escaped to E-Space in “State of Decay.”
And then there Saturnyne creatures from “The Vampires of Venice,” on the run from the cracks in space and time that destroyed their home planet and infesting Venice. They react badly to daylight, drink blood and grow fangs at will, all firm planks of the vampire myth. However, they’re fishier than they are batty, and seem to prefer living underwater, which you didn’t get with Count Dracula.
You show one supernatural beast-human the sun, and they die. Show the other the full moon, and they become a big hairy dog monster with a contagious bite and poor impulse control. In “Tooth and Claw” the Doctor and Rose (and Queen Victoria) came across just such a beast, classified as a Lupine Wavelength Haemovariform, which is just a plain old werewolf to you and me.
That’s not all, the Seventh Doctor and Ace met a Vulpanian werewolf (vulpine being the word that pertains to foxes, oddly enough) called Mags, in “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy”.
It’s a long-standing tradition of horror that mummified corpses could become reanimated by supernatural forces, especially if you throw in an ancient curse or two. We’ve just seen it happen on the Orient Express in space, with the soldier at the heart of the Foretold being kept alive by his own military hardware, and then there was the unpleasant chap inside the glass box in the pyramid of Akhaten, put there to scare the locals into feeding the greedy star. And that’s the not the only place in the universe that enjoys a bit of Egyptology. On Mars the Fourth Doctor found pyramids (literally in “The Pyramids of Mars”) guarded by buff service robots wrapped in bandages and looking distinctly mummyish.
Speaking of which, in “The Daleks’ Master Plan,” during his battle with the Monk, his first Time Lord foe, the First Doctor wrapped him up in bandages and left him in an Egyptian sarcophagus.
And of course there’s that whole “are you my mummy?” thing in “The Empty Child.”
There are many, many ways in which people who have died continue to make their presence felt in Doctor Who, and very few of them can be attributed, Scooby Doo-style, to a meddling caretaker. Although having said that, Magnus Greel uses a holograph to scare people away in “The Talons of Weng-Chiang,” something that also happened to Shaggy and the gang. Otherwise, there are psychic residues (“The Pandorica Opens”) unexplained phenomena arriving from far off dimensions, such as the “fetches” around the Relative Continuum Displacement Zone in “Image of the Fendahl,” the soldiers from the future that bewilder Sir Reginald Styles in “Day of the Daleks,” the spirit of Astrid Peth in “Voyage of the Damned,” the piranha ghosts of the Vashta Nerada (“Silence in the Library”), or poor Hila Tacorien, stuck in a pocket universe and only able to make contact via the psychic Emma Grayling (“Hide”).
In “The Moonbase,” Jamie believed he was seeing the “phantom piper,” a harbinger of his own death, when it was in fact a Cyberman. This was echoed when the Cybus Industries Cybermen crossed over from their parallel dimension (“Army of Ghosts”), following the spirits of the deceased that had been conjured up by Torchwood. And you’d have to say the floaty Gelth, whose bodies were destroyed in the Time War, qualify as fairly ghostly (“The Unquiet Dead”).
Mind you, the people the Gelth possessed were fairly zombie-ish, so there’s a crossover between horror tropes. And speaking of “Silence in the Library,” the other trick the Vasha Nerada pulled off was making the dead walk, while their last thoughts were preserved in the communications device in their helmets (called “data ghosting”). A similar form of possession happened with the Flood in “The Waters of Mars,” or the Weeping Angels, talking through the voice of Scared Bob in the people the Daleks captured in “Asylum of the Daleks.” And Sutekh did the same with Marcus Scarman in “Pyramids of Mars,” using him as a puppet. But that’s not exactly the same as the mindless creatures in The Walking Dead.
A closer fit would be the people taken over by the Boneless in “Flatline”, or those whose brains have been crushed by the Teller in “Time Heist” and yet continued to live.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a story about the fear of science in the wrong hands, and so you could argue that Davros was inspired by Doctor Frankenstein—especially in “Genesis of the Daleks,” where his mutant creations were first born. The other rogue scientist of classic horror, Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde features largely in stories such as “The Lazarus Code” and “Arc of Infinity,” where a new discovery goes horribly wrong.
As for the monster himself, “The Brain of Morbius” features a composite creature made from bits of various dead species, including the brain of a Time Lord, and Lady Cassandra (“The End of the World”), while not dead, could be said to be the result of science not knowing when to let the aging process win. Then there are the scientists trying to unlock the secrets of regeneration in “Mawdryn Undead”
Curiously, the Half-Face Man in “Deep Breath” and the Cybermen are the Frankenstein’s monsters that built themselves.
Thanks largely to Terry Pratchett and Harry Potter, you can’t invoke the name of wizards or warlocks without conjuring up some cuddly fellow with a beard, whereas witches are still part of the horror canon. Supernatural forces are at play in several Doctor Who stories, most notably the Third Doctor epic “The Daemons,” and of course, “The Satan Pit.”
And there are curious covens that pop up from time to time too. The most directly witchy are the three Carrionites in “The Shakespeare Code,” who inspired the witches at the beginning of Macbeth, as well as very nearly taking over the Elizabethan world. Then there’s the Hecate Cult in “Image of the Fendahl,” bad witches all, and up to no good. Conversely, the Sisterhood of Karn and their Time Lord potions from both “The Brain of Morbius” and “Night of the Doctor” are the sort of coven that merely brings together women of great skill and intuition.
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