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Disturbing stories behind the monsters in Silent Hill

A favorite of the survival horror genre, the Silent Hill series contains some of the most terror-inducing games ever made. With its top-notch narratives and haunting environments, this reputation is well deserved; but the plot lines delve deeper into the human psyche than you may realize.

Hidden within the core of each nightmarish-creature is a twisted origin story. The manifestations of the main character's fears, faults, and trauma, every encounter brings them face-to-face with their inner demons.

It is this chilling atmosphere of dread and psychological torment that leaves such a strong impression. With each confrontation, you peel back the layers of the protagonist's mind and learn a little more about the disturbing secrets of the supporting cast. Twisted reflections of their inner darkness, the creatures of Silent Hill offer a potent reminder that there is no monster more terrifying than the monster within.

Let's peer into the darkness of the franchise's most horrid monstrosities. Warning: there are game spoilers and possible trauma-related triggers ahead.

Abstract Daddy aka Ideal Father (Silent Hill 2)

Of the disturbing creatures in Silent Hill (and maybe the entire gaming industry), Abstract Daddy takes the cake. An amalgamation of limbs and flesh, Abstract Daddy appears as two bodies fused together on a bed. The top figure dwarfs the smaller, bottom figure, pinning it in place. With two mouths resembling vaginal cavities and a vertical slit into which the monster inserts protagonist James' head, it is an image you won't soon forget.

Each element of Abstract Daddy's appearance and its surroundings has a distinct meaning. It is Angela Orosco's cries of "No, Daddy! Please, don't!" that draw James into the room, a clear jab at the true nature of the beast. This is Angela's nightmare, the manifestation of the alcoholic father who repeatedly raped her and who she killed in a fit of rage.

The walls of the room, covered with relentlessly thrusting pistons, reinforce the horror Abstract Daddy represents. Their presence evokes a feeling of futility, as if, no matter where she turns, Angela cannot escape her abuser or the memory of his murder. This mirrors her experiences with her family, composed of a mother who told Angela she deserved the abuse, and a brother who also raped her. Instead of providing relief, they entrapped her further.

Bubble Head Nurse (Silent Hill 2)

While the Nurse is an iconic figure of the franchise, the Bubble Head Nurses of Silent Hill 2 strike a lasting chord. Ample cleavage and tiny skirts create a grotesque contrast with their swollen, gauze covered faces and bloodied teeth. Their jerky movements, shuddering heads, and chorus of shrieks and gurgles further increase the ick factor.

Bubble Head Nurses haunt the halls of Brookhaven Hospital brandishing pipes or other weapons. Their lurching gaits make them seem easy to avoid but they are surprisingly fast when on the attack. Encountered solo or in groups, they will swarm and surround James if you draw too close.

The relationship between James, the protagonist, and Mary, his dead wife, is a key theme in Silent Hill 2. Following a terminal diagnosis of an unnamed illness, Mary was bedridden and given less than three years to live. Ravaged by the disease, Mary's appearance decayed during her time in the hospital. The futility and insecurity her predicament caused led her to lash out at those around her, with James bearing the brunt of these verbal attacks.

The Bubble Head Nurses evoke memories of the time James spent watching his wife waste away in the hospital. Their buxom figures, revealing clothing, and a penchant to die with their legs spread apart also hint at the sexual frustrations he experienced due to the lack of intimacy with Mary.

Lying Figure (Silent Hill 2)

An almost humanoid figure, a fleshy straightjacket encases this creature's torso, leaving long, feminine legs, and a firm buttocks visible. It staggers around on a pair of painful-looking, platform heels, screeching as it charges forward. If you get too close, it unleashes its signature attack, a toxic mist that sprays from an opening in its chest, knocking into James and leaving him stunned.

The Lying Figure embodies the concepts of confinement, physical distortion and internal suffering. Its design most mirrors Mary during her time in the hospital, whose physical deterioration left her feeling trapped in an inescapable state of pain and decay. Thus, the Lying Figure paints the picture of a patient wracked with agonizing shudders.

The creature's sexualized appearance is the first introduction to the overarching theme of sexual frustration present in the game. The acidic mist emitted by the Lying Figure may also symbolize the abusive words Mary would spew at James in the hospital, further driving a wedge between them both physically and emotionally.

Pyramid Head aka Red Pyramid (first appears in Silent Hill 2)

A primary antagonist in Silent Hill 2, Pyramid Head may be the most well-known enemy of the franchise. A muscular humanoid wearing what resembles a white butcher's apron and rubber gloves, Pyramid Head gets its name from the rusty, pyramid-shaped helmet fused to its head, with a single, small hole in the upper side. It carries an oversized weapon, either a large knife or a long spear, dragged behind it as it strides steadily forward.

Multiple Pyramid Heads exist, appearing throughout the Silent Hill series. In each case, they act as executioners, punishing humans for their sins. In Silent Hill 2, Pyramid Head personifies James' guilt over suffocating his wife, an act he does not recall until his time in Silent Hill.

On two occasions, James discovers Pyramid Head sexually assaulting one of the other monsters. It (or perhaps he) seems content to attack both humans and horrors alike, with its actions mirroring James' own darker nature. Pyramid Head can vent his frustrations surrounding Mary's illness freely, while James could not act.

Like many of the creatures of Silent Hill, Pyramid Head seems to have a dual nature. He is both punisher and truth-bringer, helping James along his journey more than once and then impaling himself on his own spear once James accepts that he murdered his wife.

Twin Victim (Silent Hill 4)

As its name suggests, Twin Victim manifests as a set of conjoined infants garbed in a ripped smock and scarf. With pale skin and oversized arms jutting out from beneath it like legs, it can move quickly, doling out hefty damage to Silent Hill 4 protagonist Henry Townshend.

Multiple sacrifices occur throughout the game and the greater franchise, spawning some of Silent Hill's most memorable monstrosities. Twin Victim is the embodiment of Billy and Miriam Locane, twin children murdered by Silent Hill 4 antagonist Walter Sullivan as part of his quest to fulfill the 21 Sacraments of The Order. The twins differ from Sullivan's other victims, appearing as a monster instead of ghosts.

Due to the presence of several Twin Victims in the game, they may have a greater meaning. The conjoined nature of the monster, representing the failure of two entities to split, may indicate Walter's attachment to his mother, a twisted relationship that grows clearer the further you delve into the game.

Asphyxia (Silent Hill: Homecoming)

Asphyxia, the third boss fight in Silent Hill: Homecoming, resembles a caterpillar-like creature made up of multiple female torsos joined together. She has no feet and no eyes, with a mouth covered by the upper hands sprouting from her shoulders. Slithering across the room, she attacks protagonist Alex with her many flailing appendages.

Asphyxia manifests after Alex frees order-member Margaret Holloway and shows her the locket that once belonged to Nora, her daughter. Margaret strangled Nora as part of a sacrifice to the Order's god and Asphyxia's appearance is a direct reflection of how Margaret saw her daughter and the manner of her death.

In life, Nora loved to read the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which seems to have inspired Asphyxia's caterpillar-like aspect. The many groping hands make a further nod to the fact she was strangled, and it is only after Alex forces Asphyxia to breathe by pulling apart the hands covering her mouth that she is defeated.

Scarlet (Silent Hill: Homecoming)

The second boss in Silent Hill: Homecoming, Scarlet is a massive, doll-like creature with porcelain skin, a mouth full of needle-sharp teeth, and Mary Janes covering her clubbed feet.

Similar to Asphyxia, Scarlet manifests after Alex presents Order-member Martin Finch with one of her dolls. Finch sacrificed Scarlet, his own daughter, by dismembering her alive and it is this memory and accompanying guilt that creates the monster who rises from the pool of his blood and bites off his head.

Scarlet's appearance reflects the manner of her death, and the way her father saw her in life. Her segmented limbs align with her dismemberment and her bloody rise and fall mirror the large amounts of blood spilled during her murder.

During his conversation with Alex, Finch describes Scarlet as having hands "as pure as porcelain," showing that he treasured her like one might a fragile, porcelain doll. Clearly, his esteem was not enough to save her.

Sepulcher (Silent Hill: Homecoming)

Continuing the trend of children sacrificed by their parents, Sepulcher is the first boss of Silent Hill: Homecoming. He appears as a grotesque cross between a tree and a corpse mounted from the ceiling. A root-like growth covers his face and several flesh-covered bodies are hooked to his 'trunk.'

Sepulcher manifests after Alex confronts order member Sam Bartlett with his son Joey's watch. Bartlett tosses the watch down where it sinks into the ground, causing the tree behind him to uproot, unearthing Sepulcher. Sepulcher then crushes Sam beneath his massive hand.

Like Asphyxia and Scarlet, Sepulcher's appearance is rooted in both his father's perception of him and the nature of his death. Bartlett buried him alive as a sacrifice for the Order. The bag that shrouds Sepulcher's body when he first appears is a nod to the bag Joey was buried in and the overall tree symbolism reflects the boy's love for nature in life.

Siam (Silent Hill: Homecoming)

Silent Hill sure likes its fusion-based monsters. Siam follows a similar theme, appearing as a masculine and feminine figure fused together and bound by straps and other bondage gear. The masculine figure is large and stocky, with club-like appendages. The female is strapped to its back, hands tied above her head with her stiletto-covered feet flailing about.

Siam evokes a sense of helplessness and codependency. This could reflect several male-female relationships that exist in the game, including the relationship between Alex's mother and father, his own relationship with his mother, and the interactions between Alex and Elle Holloway.

As Siams always appear when Elle turns up missing or encounters trouble, the creature might symbolize their growing bond. Alternatively, Siam may imply that Elle is only another burden to Alex, following him around and causing problems while he does the heavy lifting of the investigation.

Another popular theory states that Siam is a parody of marriage, specifically, the marriage of Silent Hill 2 protagonist, James, to his wife, Mary. The BDSM elements represent James' unfulfilled sexual desires and the female's position on the male's back creates the impression of an inescapable burden.

Killing Siam unlocks the "Shades of James" achievement. When you also compare Siam's female aspect to the stiletto-wearing Lying Figure of Silent Hill 2, you'll find this disturbing theory has real weight behind it.

Wheelman (Silent Hill: Downpour)

Wheelman is the final boss of Silent Hill: Downpour and also appears throughout the game. A massive, grotesque creature, it takes the form of an emaciated corpse, getting its name from the wheelchair and life support machinery fused to it. More machinery and wires wind through the exposed rib cage; top this off with a tumor-obstructed face and some telekinetic powers and you've got yourself a boss fight to remember.

Like Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 2, Wheelman plays a dual role in Murphy Pendleton's progression. He is a manifestation of Murphy's memory of Frank Coleridge, and later his guilt surrounding Frank's death.

Wheelman may also represent the darker side of Murphy's nature, similar to James' connection with Pyramid Head. Frank's image manifests in Silent Hill as a representation of Murphy's conscience. As the Wheelman embodies Frank's deteriorated state, he may also symbolize the decay of Murphy's morals as he allowed his son's death to push him further into the darkness.