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Arthropodians are anthropomorphic arthropods, with arthropods being the category of invertebrate animals that have an external skeleton, a segmented body, and jointed appendages. It is the category insects and similar creatures as well as crustaceans belong too. The unique appearance of these creatures generates in humans a sense of uneasiness and the danger and inconvenience many pose don't contribute to positive feelings either. Yet at the same time, many of them are useful or inspiring and have influenced human history in numerous ways. The amount of arthropodean monsters in fiction, however, is limited and much of it is of recent origin.
A mixture of "arthropod" and "-ian", "Arthropodian" means "related to arthropods". "-ian", which is descended from "-anus", is Latin. "Arthropod" is based on a fusion of two Ancient Greek words: "ἄρθρον" ("árthron"), which translates to "joint", and "πούς" ("poús"), which is "foot". "Arthropodian" thus translates to "one with jointed feet".
"Arthropodian" alternatively is spelled "arthropodean". There is no technical difference between them, but as "arthropodean" is the established spelling for "related to arthropods", "arthropodian" is more often used for fictional anthropomorphic arthropods.
Arthropods go a long way back in human history and human imagination. Water-dwelling ones are largely associated with the unknown of the seas and oceans and play into suggestions of another world where humans can't follow. At worst that other world decides it wants the land too, but otherwise it fulfills the role of the mystical other realm. Land-dwelling ones are regarded more concretely, representing a vast miniature world that is both different and similar to the one humans occupy. Ants and bees are particularly popular in that regard. Another way arthropods speak to human perception is by their usefulness or destructiveness. Butterflies are beautiful and are crucial to plant reproduction, silk worms provide silk, and ladybugs protect plants by eating aphids. Ticks drain blood and spread disease, cockroaches smell and spoil food, and earwigs destroy crops though otherwise suffer from negative reputation grounded in myth. Some arthropods exist within both realms and none as much so as spiders. Even the ones that are not deadly or harmful to humans activate arachnaphobia — one of the most common phobias — in humans sensitive to it. On the other hand, the ability of spiders to weave webs and their diligence at it are source for admiration. Additionally, the fact that female spiders are generally more impressive than and dangerous to male ones has its effect on the psyche of human societies that favor men over women, usually leading to demonization of both.
There's a handful of supernatural creatures associated with land-based arthropods. There's the mambabarang and mamalarang of the Philippines, which are magicians using either bugs or spirits in the form of bugs to manipulate the physical condition of the target and eventually cause death. There is a Polish and Russian vampire variant that upon death bursts open to release an army of vermin, all of which contain a piece of its essence and therefore have to be destroyed timely. On a lighter note, winged insects are both associated and identified with fairies since the 19th century. Butterflies even go back further, being traditionally associated with the soul in several European and Asian cultures.
Girtablilu, scorpion folk who have the head and torso of a human and the lower body of a scorpion, are Mesopotamian monsters. They are mentioned in the Enûma Eliš, the region's creation myth that emerged between 2000 and 1000 BCE. The girtablilu are among the eleven monsters created by Tiamat to destroy her older descendents for the murder of her husband Apsû. They fail, but go on to become the gatekeepers between the realm of mortals and Kurnugi at the mountains of Mashu. They appear in tablet IX of the Epic of Gilgamesh. The epic is thought to be from around 2100 BCE, but the oldest surviving text featuring girtablilu or their scene was written down at some point between the 13th to the 10th centuries BCE. Within the epic, the two girtablilu are a couple who advise Gilgamesh on his journey past the gates.
In Roman additions to Greek mythology, there are two myths surrounding the transition of a human to an arthropod or vice versa, namely Arachne and the Myrmidons. Both have versions written up in Ovid's 8 CE Metamorphoses, the first in Book VI and the other in Book VII. They are probably older and of Lydian and Ancient Greek origin respectively, but those sources are not preserved. In the story of Arachne, the titular character, a Lydian woman whose father, Idmon of Colophon, was a skilled Tyrian purple wool dyer, and who herself continues the family tradition by being an excellent weaver angers the goddess Athena during a weaving contest. Athena turns her into a spider as punishment. According to Pliny the Elder in Natural History (77–79 CE), the myth relays historical facts. He assigns her the invention of linen and nets and adds that she had a son, Closter, who invented the spindle. The story of the Myrmidons also knows two variations. The Myrmidons are a nation of first class soldiers hailing from the island Aegina and are first mentioned in Homer's Iliad, which is usually dated to around the eighth century BCE. In this version, they are average humans, but later-written origin stories link them to ants. Specifically, their name "Μυρμιδόνες" ("Murmidónes") sounds like the Ancient Greek word for "ant-nest", which is "μυρμηδών"("murmēdón"), from "μύρμηξ" ("múrmēks") as the Ancient Greek word for "ant". Depending on the version, either their eponymous ancestor, Myrmidon, was conceived while his parents or at least his father, Zeus, had taken the form of an ant, or Zeus repopulated Aegina after a terrible plague by changing the ants of the island into people on King Aeacus's request.
In Japanese mythology, arthropodean creatures among the youkai include the ushi-oni, the tsuchigumo, and the jorougumo. Ushi-oni, "ox demons" whose history goes back to the Heian period (794-1185), come in a variety of shapes, of which only one has arthropodean qualities. This version is a creature of the sea and lives off the coast of Shimane Prefecture and other places in Western Japan. It is traditionally envisioned as a spider or crab with the head of an ox, but these days also is often depicted with a human torso between the bovine head and spider/crab-like body. In its legend, it is partnered with a nure-onna who incapacitates a fisherman at Iwami for the ushi-oni to devour, though the fisherman manages to escape. Tsuchigumo, "dirt spiders", and jorougumo, "whore spiders" whose history goes back to the Edo period, are sometimes supernatural spiders from the start and sometimes regular spiders who've reached high enough an age, usually 400 years, to become youkai. They tend to live in caves. Jorougumo are based on actual spiders, while the origin behind tsuchigumo can either lie with actual spiders or with demonization of people who did not recognize the emperor. Tsuchigumo have the ability to take human form and create illusions, which they use to feed on humans. The hero Minamoto no Yorimitsu is ascribed two encounters, one with a female tsuchigumo who illusion'ed up an army and one with a male tsuchigumo who used illusion so that Minamoto no Yorimitsu did not know he was webbed in and was being poisoned. Jorougumo also can take human form, but are exclusively female. They usually use their powers to ensnare men and eat them. There are two identified jorougumo, one from the Jōren Falls in Izu and one from Kashikobuchi in Sendai. The first either aided or fell in love with a woodcutter, but he betrayed her and so she killed him. The second tried to kill a woodcutter by catching him with spider threads and pulling him into the water, but he cut the threads and tied them to treestump that got pulled into the water instead. Impressed, the jorougumo came to protect people from drowning.
Though not anthropomorphic, My Lord Bag of Rice features an unusual centipede in that it's very large. My Lord Bag of Rice is a tale from between the tenth and fourteenth century and concerns the warrior Fujiwara no Hidesato's battle with a dragon-eating centipede. As the story goes, he was approached at Lake Biwa by a royal dragon living within the lake with a request to kill the giant centipede that had been abducting and eating members of their family for several nights by then. Fujiwara no Hidesato took up the matter and that night saw the centipede descend from Mount Mikami, where it lived. With eyes like fireballs, luminous legs and a length sufficient to wrap seven times around the mountain, Fujiwara no Hidesato calmed himself and shot two arrows to the centipede's forehead, but they both failed to penetrate the creature. Recalling that centipedes can't stand human saliva, he spit on the third arrow and tried again, this time killing it. Among the rewards from the dragon family was a never-emptying bag of rice, from which Fujiwara no Hidesato got the title My Lord Bag of Rice.
Among the worldwide collection of trickster entities, the Akan/West African spider Anansi is one of the most well-known tricksters, largely because abduction during the colonial centuries spread his stories to the Americas. Anansi is a deity-spirit and is associated with the rain, the tide, agriculture, community, and storytelling. His tricks range from impressive god-defying acts to pitiful acts born from envy. Murder is not outside of his repertoire. He is depicted in various ways: sometimes he's human-looking, sometimes he has the shape of a spider, other times he is a spider dressed as a human, and sometimes he's a human with spider parts or vice versa. Another trickster spider — who is not related to Anansi — is Iktomi of Lakotan mythology. He too is a deity-spirit, and he is associated with language, games, names, stories, and invention. One particular prophecy states that Iktomi's web will one day reach every corner of the land, which is these days interpreted to mean the telephone network and the internet. Sometimes, ill intentions of others condemned him to a spider form and his tricks are retaliation for the fun made of him. Other times, he can shapeshift and his tricks, both beneficial and malicious, are expressions of his whim. He can use threads to control humans like puppets and is a skilled potion maker. A modern day interpretation of him appears in the 2002 movie Skins.
The Mothman is a cryptid at the center of a series of events and reports that occured in Point Pleasant from 1966 to 1967, though the creature did not became known to the rest of the world until books were written about it in the '70s. In the final months of 1966, people started reporting encounters with a creature described as a "large flying man with ten-foot wings" and a "large bird with red eyes". In some reports, it appears to be harmless, while in others it appears to be hostile. Follow-up reports mention lights in the sky and the appearance of peculiar men in the city. The final part of the Mothman's story is tragically the only part that is fact: the sudden collapse Silver Bridge and subsequent death of 46 people. Though undoubtedly something real triggered the collective panic, all but some of the Mothman reports have been proven false, unreliable, exaggerated, or the result of a prank specifically meant to make use of the situation. The Mothman itself is usually explained as nothing more extraordinary than a heron or a barred owl, although those explanations only come from parties with no personal experience. Because of this, the discussion regarding the Mothman continues among cryptid enthusiasts and is alternately explained as an alien visitor or a product of the ahistorical curse of Chief Cornstalk upon his murder in 1777.
Arthropodean presence in Gothic Horror begins with The Black Spider, which was written by Jeremias Gotthelf in 1842, although it did not receive recognition until the middle of the 20th century. It is a deeply moralizing Christian story with a palpable misogynist and xenophobic logic behind it. Its black spider starts out as a human named Christine, who is spoken ill of in her town because she's from elsewhere and because she is more commanding than the men. One day the town can choose between death or a deal with the Devil at the cost of one unbaptized baby. The town doubts on this until Christine accepts the deal, thinking she can outwit the Devil. As seal, the Devil kisses her on her cheek. The Devil keeps to his side of the deal and the town prepares to have every baby baptized immediately upon birth to avoid payment. The first time, Christine grows a hairy spider-shaped bump on her cheek that burns. The second time, it bursts open to unleash hundreds of tiny black spiders that proceed to kill off all the cattle. And the third time, the bump absorbs Christine and turns her into a slightly oversized black spider with supernatural speed and immortality. Anything living she touches grows black, burning spots that swell up until death follows. Christine proceeds to hunt down everyone in the town and the castle with purpose until her sister-in-law, the mother of the third baby, grabs her and locks her away before dying. Christine only escapes once a few generations later, but is recaptured by a second hero, a descendent of the sister-in-law, after many deaths. The story was the basis for a movie twice, once in 1921 and once in 1983.
Though the antagonist of George du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby is a human, an emphasis is put on his demonic personality. Protagonist Trilby compares Svengali once to an incubus, and twice to a spider. She does so once after the first time he hypnotizes her to help her with her headache, calling him like a big hungry spider that makes her feel like a fly. The second time it is in relation to her dislike of his pursuit of her, comparing the two of them to a cat and a mouse before worsening the cat comparison up to a nightmarish black spider-cat. Du Maurier considered the comparison important enough to use spider-Svengali as basis of one of the novel's periodic illustrations.
By the end of the 19th century, Richard Marsh tried his hand at a story which antagonist can change shape into a scarab beetle, an animal sacred to Ancient Egyptians. The Beetle came out in 1897, preceding Bram Stoker's Dracula by just a few months. The two novels are often compared due to thematic similarities, such as the setup of the human-monster from the East looking to harm West European women, much of which can be explained by the influence of Trilby on popular culture. The novel also is a notable product of Egyptomania. Though little is explicitly revealed about the titular Beetle and a lot left unexplained altogether, it is made clear "they" are a member of a cult worshipping Isis with human sacrifices. The payment is the skill of mesmerism (including, it seems, feeding on the life force of others), the ability to change into a scarab beetle ranging in size from human-sized to a foot high if standing up, and possibly the opportunity to cheat death. There are two human identities attached to the beetle, which are implied to be the same person but it's not explained how they are. The first is an Egyptian woman no better named than the Woman of Songs, a high priestess of Isis, who was strangled but upon death changed into a beetle. Someone who is likely her resurfaces twenty years later as Mohamed el Kheir, a person generally identified as a man and as an Arab, but who is likely neither. Especially in terms of their gender, their face and voice code male but their body and behavior female. The beetle form they take is observed to be female. El Kheir seeks revenge on the Englishman who killed the Woman of Songs and eventually sets sight on his fiancée as another sacrifice. Their abduction of her is cut short by a train accident, which for unexplained reasons reduces their remains to mere splotches of blood-like substance. The rest of the cult is implied to be destroyed in an explosion at their temple complex later on. The novel was turned into a movie only once, in 1919.
In 1915, Hanns Heinz Ewers adapted The Invisible Eye (1857) of writers duo Erckmann-Chatrian into The Spider. Because it is an adaption, it is one of Ewers's gentler works of horror. As with Marsh's beetle, the exact nature of Ewers's spider is left open to interpretation. The antagonist is Clarimonde, a name given to her by the protagonist, Richard Bracquemont, who, despite having never spoken to her, simply knows it is her name. Equally, he has never properly seen her, but simply knows that her hair is black, her eyes dark, and her skin pale. Her nose is short and delicate, her teeth small, and she always wears a black dress with lilac dots and black gloves. She's also always spinning, except when she entertains Richard with a game of mimicry. This game is how she takes hold of her victims and while Bracquemont can't save himself, he is able to kill her as his final act. It is never made clear what the relationship between Clarimonde and the spider is, but based on context it can be deduced that Clarimonde as a human is an illusion created by the spider as bait. Equally, it is never explained what Clarimonde gets out of killing Richard and at least three men before him, but Ewers likely didn't name his antagonist Clarimonde by accident. It is a rare name that is largely associated with Théophile Gautier's The Dead Woman in Love from 1836, which is about a vampire named Clarimonde. Ewers also evokes the myth of Arachne with the connection between a spider hanging from a thread and living versus a human hanging from a cord and dying.
Another 1915 publication relating to arthropod-humans is The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. Its protagonist, Gregor Samsa, wakes up one day as an "Ungeziefer". An "Ungeziefer" is an "unclean animal not suitable for sacrifice", and neither the text nor Kafka clarified Gregor's state more precisely. From the descriptions, it is clear he is a bug of some sort. "Ungeziefer" is often translated as "cockroach", which works in terms of emotional intent, but does not match the description Gregor gives of his own body, which seems more akin to a human-sized beetle. No explanation is given why the change ever happened and people, while surprised, take it for granted. As human, Gregor was the only one of his family working to earn money, but as beetle, it is his family that has to work to earn money and take care of him. It doesn't take long before the Samsas become aggressive towards Gregor and talk him into suicide, which he commits to unburden them. The family lives on happily. The story is one of Kafka's most popular ones and explained by literary critics in numerous ways. It has been adapted in many forms.
Not anthropomorphic but crucial to solidifying a place for arthropods in on-screen horror is the 1950s Big Bug subgenre of the Big Monster genre brought forth by the successes of The Lost World (1925), King Kong (1933), and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953). King Kong would've been the first movie to feature large bugs, but the Spider Pit sequence was cut and has since become lost, although Peter Jackson recreated it in honor of the 2005 remake. Instead, Them! in 1954 is credited as the first of its genre. Exactly which movies are part of it is a matter of viewpoint. There is agreement that Tarantula (1955), The Deadly Mantis (1957), The Black Scorpion (1957), Beginning of the End (1957), Monster from Green Hell (1957), Earth vs. the Spider (1958) fit the criteria, but there are also candidates without unanimous support. "Big" says nothing about how big, either absolutely or relatively, and "bug" is a highly undefined term. In general, "bug" is understood to contain members of the annelid and mollusk categories, altogether bringing Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), The Monster That Challenged the World (1957), Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959), and even The Blob (1958) within the outer borders of the genre. One particular trait of the genre that works in favor of the latter four's inclusion and that distinguishes Big Bug movies from other Big Monster movies is that Big Bugs principally kill to eat. This added to the grossness factor that pushed the appeal of the Big Bug movies. As a USAmerican genre, the Big Bug movies came at a time when the population feared a communist invasion, considered the consequences of nuclear research and weaponry, and pesticides were the unchecked be-all-end-all solution to keeping insects at bay. These three developments mixed thematically even outside the cinema and therefore easily found their way into movies. For instance, the usual explanation for the size of the bugs is radiation and the trust in the army to bring the threat down reflects nationalist self-encouragement at the time. Big Bugs outside the USA are rare and given that only nuclear research was a valid theme outside the USA too at the time, it is a matter of argument whether the English The Strange World of Planet X (1958) and the Japanese Mothra (1961) are part of the genre.
Big Bug movies — and Big Monster movies in general — fell out of favor by the start of the 1960s, with releases such as The Giant Spider Invasion (1975) and Blue Monkey (1987) being sporadic. Big Bugs lived on for a while in the popular Mars Attacks trading card series of 1962, being the subject of nearly all cards from 27 to 45 of 55 cards total, but that marked the last within the genre's origin era. In the next few decades, the genre merged with Eco Terror, for which some groundwork had been laid with The Naked Jungle in 1954, resulting among others in The Food of the Gods (1976) and Empire of the Ants (1977), both based on novels by H. G. Wells: The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth (1904) and Empire of the Ants (1905). Eco Terror defines itself by focussing more on neglicence of biological waste, crossbreeding, and ecological transplantation than on nuclear radiation as cause. Its killer animals generally aren't so much big as plentiful and vicious.
Arthropod-humans as subject of movies are largely a product of the room Big Bug movies made for them, though the first precedes Them!. Mesa of Lost Women came out in 1953 after a difficult production time. It is unknown what the story originally was supposed to be about, but because the actor for the main antagonist wasn't brought in until the second production round, it is probably some steps removed from the story of the final product. Mesa of Lost Women is essentially Wells's The Island of Doctor Moreau, featuring a mad scientist by the name of Doctor Aranya, played by Jackie Coogan, who transplants the pituitary gland of humans into tarantulas to make them human-sized, sapient, and telepathically gifted. Transplanting the gland back to humans results in women with telepathy, regenerative powers, and a life expectancy of several centuries, while men merely become small although since all treated humans appear to be mute yet still capable of communication, it's possible the men have telepathy too. Aranya's created a small army of all three creatures this way and his prized creation is Tarantella (Tandra Quinn). The prime iconic movie featuring an arthropod-human, however, fits well within the era of Big Bug popularity; The Fly (1958) was based on the 1957 story The Fly by George Langelaan. The Fly is by far Langelaan's most popular story and the titular Fly regularly incorporated in the supporting portion of monster casts. The Fly started out as a regular human, André Delambre (David Hedison), a scientist who is looking into teleportation. He has built a machine to do that by taking apart the atoms of the subject in one pod and rebuilding them in the other, but when he tests it on himself, a fly enters his pod. Upon reemerging in the other pod, André's arm and head have been swapped with the fly's. Horrified, he involves his wife Helene to find the fly and reverse the transformation. They don't find it and with nothing else to do, André reenters the machine to see if it will fix things on its own. Instead, André comes out looking even worse and gets Helene to assist him with suicide. The 1958 movie received two sequels, one in 1959 called Return of the Fly and one in 1965 called Curse of the Fly and the story itself received another movie adaption and sequel in the 1980s with Jeff Goldblum as the Fly. The sequel movies gratefully make use of the fact André and Helene have a son in the story to cast him as the new protagonist.
Following shortly on The Fly is the 1959 movie The Wasp Woman. Though said to be an original piece, it's hard to believe the success of The Fly a year prior had nothing to do with its creation. The story starts with Dr. Eric Zinthrope (Michael Mark) who has discovered a youth treatment based on royal jelly. Janice Starlin (Susan Cabot), an aging model with her own company, offers to finance his research if he'll accept her as test subject. Zinthrope agrees hesitantly and the results are promising. It is discovered too late that the injections eventually turn the subjects into wasp hybrids and Janice eats several people in wasp form before being killed. While The Wasp Woman was not a hit, nor had the investment to be one all things considered, the wasp woman went on to inspire several movie villains, such as in The Leech Woman (1960), Evil Spawn (1987), Rejuvenatrix (1988), and Catwoman (2004). The movie even received a remake in 1995. Of the four inspiration movies, only Evil Spawn keeps to an insect theme. A second female arthropod-human would be introduced in another low-budget movie called The Blood Beast Terror in 1968. Its monster is a weremoth, played by Wanda Ventham, who goes by the name Clare Mallinger in human form. She is genetically engineered by Dr. Carl Mallinger (Robert Flemyng), who first bred a large Death's-head Hawkmoth and than used electricity and human blood to give it human qualities. Mallinger presents Clare as his daughter while he works on creating another like her, and Clare occasionally goes out to hunt for blood to nourish herself with, which eventually gets authorities on their tail and leads to their destruction.
The myth of Arachne survives with several variations regarding the ending, of which only one of Classical origin and the rest of Medieval or later origin. All of the post-Classical variations aim to make the story a gentler read. Arachne is widely praised for her skills at weaving, prompting her to think of herself the better of the gods in that regard. This earns her a visit from the goddess Athena, who challenges her to a weaving competition. Athena creates a beautiful tapestry of the gods in all their glory, while Arachne creates one of even higher quality but of the gods' sexual liberties. Athena is furious, tears her tapestry to pieces and physically attacks Arachne, who resolves to hang herself out of misery. This has Athena feeling pity for her and revive her, but turn her into a spider all the same with "Hecate's potion", probably aconite, as punishment for her insolence. Arachne and her descendents have been weaving ever since. An example of another version of the myth, the consequence of losing is to never touch weaving equipment again. Athena wins and Arachne despairs. Taking pity, Athena changes her into a spider so she can weave forever without the need for any tools.
The Black Spider is split in five parts: the present, the origin of the black spider as told by the grandfather in the present, the present again, the escape of the black spider as told by the grandfather, and then again the present. The primary area of action is a house that, while broken down and rebuilt several times since the days of the black spider, always keeps one particular window post untouched and build-in. Upon request, the grandfather, the oldest living heir of the house, tells of the post's significance. Back in the day, the town was ruled by a cruel and arrogant knight named Hans von Stoffeln. After forcing a two-year project of building his castle on the town, he orders them to transplant a hundred trees from one mountain to his within a month. That the town will starve because they have to work the field in the same period or have nothing for winter he ignores. In a predicament, the town is approached by the Devil in the form of a hunter who offers to take care of the trees for them in exchange for an unbaptized baby. The town is indecisive until Christine, a woman from elsewhere married to a local farmer, agrees with the aim to tick the Devil out of his reward. All present agree, which leaves out the priest and children, except her mother-in-law and the wife of her husband's brother. Christine is kissed on the cheek by the Devil to seal the pact and all proceeds as planned. Christine arranges the first newborn baptism even, but finds the spot of the kiss to grow into a spider-shaped mark. The next baby to be baptized makes the mark burst open to unleash a cattle-killing horde of spiders on the town. The next baby to be born is her sister-in-law's, and Christine gets the town to let her hand it over. At the last moment, she is thwarted by the priest and as a result absorbed by the mark on her cheek into a highly deadly spider. The baby and the priest are the first to die, followed be nearly the entire town and castle inhabitants. When Christine threatens her sister-in-law's other children, the woman picks her up and locks her in hole within the post of her house, perishing herself by saving all left. For a time, the town lives according to God's will, but their easy life style brings back vice. A servant unleashes the spider and it isn't until a descendent of the sister-in-law makes the same sacrifice she did to save his children that Christine is locked away for good and God never again forgotten.
The story of The Spider commences with the suicides of three men within room #7 of a Hotel Stevens, Rue Alfred Stevens (Paris 6), each having hanged themselves on Friday evening at 18:00. The oddest part of all is that all of them are found with their knees nearly on the floor, meaning they had to lift their legs during the procedure, suggesting peculiar will power. The third man even was a marine sergeant placed in the room by the police to investigate the previous two suicides. Richard Bracquemont, a medical student, is intrigued and gets permission to occupy the room to figure out what happened. To ensure results of some sort, he keeps a diary. He survives several Fridays with nothing to report on to the police directly but one thing that he does not wish to share. The window of the room looks out on a window across the street, where a young woman is always spinning up until 17:00. Richard takes a liking to her, although he experiences no desire to visit her or speak to her. He is convinced, though, that her name is Clarimonde and that she would never dress in anything but black gloves and a black dress with lilac spots. He starts a game with her that involves him making a series of gestures from his window that she gets to copy as fast as she can from her window. It never occurs to him that this is an odd game to play all day until he comes to understand it is he who is made to copy her and that the game is how she controls him and how she aims to get him to hang himself too. Richard cannot break the psychological hold she has on him, but he can destroy her with him. When his body is found, so too is that of a large black spider with lilac dots which Richard has bitten in two. Upon enquiry by the police, the apartment across room #7 is found to have been empty for a long time.
The Fly introduces the Delambres, a family consisting of father and scientist André, mother Helene, and son Henri. André also has a brother living nearby named François. André is working on a teleportation device in his laboratory, consisting of two pods. Teleportation occurs by atomization of the subject in one pod and reconstruction in the other. When he's experimenting on living subjects, he uses the family's cat as test subject, but the cat never rematerializes. Later tests give better results and André chooses to use himself as test subject next. However, a fly enters his pod upon atomization and the other pod creates two hybrid creatures out of the mixture: André has the head and arm of a fly and the fly has his limbs, though their brains are left unswapped. André gets Helene involved to help him, but they can't find the fly anywhere. As final solution, André goes back in the machine hoping it'll fix him anyway, but he comes out with cat parts added to the mix. He gets Helene to kill him and destroy his fly limbs so no one will ever know. Helene writes all that happened down and hands the papers over to François, who takes custody of Henri, before committing suicide. François only believes her story because he did end up finding the fly with his brother's limbs.
The 1958 movie adaption is largely faithful to the story but for a few bits. For unclear reasons, Henri is renamed Phillipe. Probably to tone down the violence of the story, Helene does not commit suicide and no cat is harmed in André's experiments. Instead, the transformation causes him to become fly-like in behavior; not wanting to lose himself is what prompts his assisted suicide. Also, the fly with André's parts is found stuck in a spider web, shouting the iconic "Help Me!" as a spider approaches him. Both are quickly killed by the horrified audience. The first sequel sees Phillipe grown up and working to complete his father's research. His colleague, Alan Hines, an industrial spy and actually Ronald Holmes, has different plans. After several experiments that include "storing" live test subjects within the pod's database, Holmes knocks out Phillipe and stores him in the database along with a fly. Phillipe is transformed like his father was, with the added exchange of a leg. He hunts down and kills Holmes for that. Phillipe has better luck than his father, though, as his fly is found and both are returned to normal. The second sequel breaks with most of the previous two movies and establishes a new background from the pieces. Phillipe is renamed Henri and he has two sons, Martin and Albert, with whom he continues the teleportation experiments viciously, although Albert has hesitations. Human test subjects, including two previous assistants and Martin's wife, end up disfigured and insane and are locked away by the family. As the police closes in on them, the two assistants are teleported one last time and end up fused. Albert kills it in an act of mercy, then destroys the machine, unaware his father uses it next. With no receiving end, Henri stops existing. Martin, who has inherited fly genes, ages to death in moments when in the chaos he fails to get his usual antidote.
The Monster High arthropodians are Wydowna Spider and her mother Arachne, Buzz Wingman, Bonita Femur and her father the Mothman, Luna Mothews and her parents, and Penepole Steamtail and one of her parents. There's also a mantis boy backgrounder and a Create-A-Monster iteration of an anthropomorphic bee, while Inner Monster's Shivering Sad n Eek Excited n Hauntingly Happy and Fangtastic Love n Fearfully Feisty packs contain arthropodean elements. Nearly all Monster High arthropodians are based on arthropods with the ability of flight and therefore can fly themselves too.
Buzz Wingman, a former backgrounder, is the first of the Monster High arthropodians introduced, which happened in 2011. He is a small anthropomorphic fly, inspired by the titular character of The Fly, though he does not resemble any source iteration of the character nor carries the character's last name Delambre. This might be to leave room for a full character to link to the story or a result of the fact the story isn't in public domain yet. In the original story and movie adaption, the Fly is a human with a fly-shaped head and arm, while in the '80s movies the Fly looks like neither his donors. Buzz, on the other hand, is a full humanoid fly and even has wings. Whether Buzz is an arthropodian by birth or by fusion, the latter which the source character is, is unknown, as is which is the case for his parents.
The next arthropodian introduced, following only a few months after Buzz although it took two years for her to retun after the initial introduction, is Wydowna Spider, who is an anthropomorphic black widow spider. Her name is a play on Winona Ryder and she is the daughter of Arache, who in Roman-Greek mythology started out as a Lydian human and was turned into a spider by the goddess Athena. Though it is not uncommon for modern interpretations of Arachne to be a mixture of a human and a spider, especially when she's cast as a villain and needs to look monstrous, which goes back to Gustave Doré's 1868 art for Divine Comedy, it is not a form she has in any form of the original myth. The myth does not mention what kind of spider Arachne became and Wydowna being a black widow spider is Monster High's own contribution. She is capable of communication with regular spiders, as she once had a conversation with Memphis "Daddy O" Longlegs. Among the arthropodians, Wydowna stands out for having six arms, while the others only have two even though their kinds of arthropods also have more than four limbs. Like her mother as per the legend, Wydowna is skilled in creating and processing fabrics of all kinds.
Arachne herself is an old friend of Medusa. This is a reference to the fact both women in their respective myths start out as humans whose forms were changed after an encounter with the goddess Athena. Arachne and Wydowna speak Arachnean in addition to English, which implies that there are more creatures like them. Arachne's transformation is brought up in Who's That Ghoulfriend?, which also mentions that Wydowna's father has never been a factor in her life.
Bonita Femur, a skeleton-Mothman hybrid, entered the fray in Early 2014. Her design may have been inspired by the goddess Itzpapalotl of Aztec mythology, who is skeletal in appearance, associated with moths, and some of the time depicted with moth wings. The name "Bonita", at least, allows the possibility of a Latin American heritage. Bonita appears to be an anthropomorphic rosy maple moth, which is a North American moth species, and her wings evoke the ones on the Mothman statue that stands in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia since 2003. However, since the introduction of Luna Mothews, who is also said to be the daughter of the Mothman, Bonita's father has become listed on her profile on the website as "a moth". It would seem thus that Bonita's parentage has been slightly retconned.
The myth of the Mothman started with a sighting of it at various points of a road at night. Appropriately, Bonita's father is a flyway patrol officer who usually works the nightshift.
Luna Mothews followed a year after Bonita. She is based on a lunar hornet moth, explaining her apoidean look despite being a moth. Whereas Bonita has a problem keeping herself from chewing through all her clothes, as moths are wont to do,Luna is bothered people don't trust her not to chew through their clothes. Meanwhile, Bonita is only slightly attracted to bright lights, while it is Luna's entire reason to seek stardom, even though she still has to work on not getting distracted by them.
Penepole Steamtail is an upcoming character; a hybrid like Bonita. She is a child of a centaur and an anthropomorphic butterfly.
- The genie Gigi Grant is designed to resemble an anthropomorphic scorpion.
- Though not arthropodians, arthropodean pets include Memphis "Daddy O" Longlegs, Azura, Nati, Shoo, Sultan Sting, and Amanita's maggot.
- Wydowna Spider's SDCCI diary mentions a Hornet Robberfly. It is so far unclear who he is but for the two facts that he is a "bad boy" and the object of affection of Shoo.
- Starting Volume 4 of the cartoon, the main cast is occasionally assisted by a swarm of fireflies, such as in "So You Think You Can Date" and "Just Ghost to Show Ya".