Thick woodlands, peat bogs, wheat fields — any one of these indigenously Belarusian locations could be the perfect setting for a Hollywood horror flick. Add a unique monster that speaks with a Polessian accent, and the ideal fuel for your nightmare is ready to serve.
Scenario 1. The Bathhouse Horror
The monster: Bannik (Bathhouse spirit)
Set-up. A group of foreign students rents a stay on a remote farmstead somewhere in the Hrodna region. The place looks great, but there is an old bathhouse among other buildings, which the grim farmstead owner strictly forbids to visit. Of course, later students take a good taste of local moonshine and violate the ban. They sneak into the bathhouse to continue the party there, but little do they know that an ancient thing awaits them in the darkness of a dilapidated building.
Bannik is a creature that was historically blamed for all the accidents that happened to people in the bathhouses. Usually, Bannik is invisible, but sometimes it was depicted as a naked old man covered with dirt and bath broom leaves. According to legends, Bannik only attacks those who violate his prohibitions and visit the bathhouse at midnight, but he punishes the violators as brutally as possible — he skins the victims and steams them to death.
Scenario 2. The Swamp Man
The monster: Balotnik (Swamp man)
Set-up. It’s the 1950s. One of the vast bogs of Polesie is visited by an expedition of engineers in order to drain part of the territory. The village nearby is almost deserted, and the remaining families are very aggressive towards the uninvited guests. Engineers do not care, though they should. As soon as the expedition begins its work, the ancient evil awakens in the bog. It is extremely annoyed that its home has been disturbed, and intends to drag each and every one of the perpetrators into the quagmire.
Balotnik was described as a dirty eyeless creature sitting at the bottom of the swamp. This creature was attributed to any sounds that a swamp could make — to lure a man, he quacks like a duck, bubbles like a grouse, roars like a bittern, moans or laughs imitating the voices of a ptarmigan and a jacksnipe. When the victim is already in the quagmire, Balotink grabs their legs and slowly but inevitably drags them to depth.
Scenario 3. The Quiet Lake
The monster: Azyarnitza (Lake spirit)
Set-up. A wealthy but lonely man buys a cottage on the shore of one of the Naroch lakes. He spends some time alone and then gets acquainted with a beautiful girl who claims to have come here to camp wild. They fall in love with each other, but after a while, the man notices that something is going wrong — the girl spends too much time swimming in the water, and he has dreams about drowning. She’s not who she says she is…
Azyarnitza was referred to as a creature resembling a young woman, with long greenish hair, dark skin, and little fins on her feet. Lake water flows in her veins instead of blood. Anyone who encounters an azyarnitza should never give themselves away — the creature not let go of her prey and will sooner or later drag them into the lake. The same fate awaits anyone who ignorantly takes a swim in the lake where an azyarnitza dwells.
Scenario 4. The Plague
The monster: Pamorak (Plague man)
Set-up. It is the middle of the 19th century. A young countryman returns to his village on a waggon from the market and encounters a tired traveler who barely fights on his feet. A peasant takes pity on a traveler and offers to take him to the village so that he can spend the night there and regain some strength. The traveler agrees and heads to the village where he spends the night in the countryman’s house. The next morning the peasant’s daughter gets a fever, and in the evening she dies. A pestilence begins in the whole village…
Explore the topic:
Pamorak was often portrayed as a beggar. Pamorak sought to infiltrate a village where people are not yet sick. He asked a peasant to give him a ride in a cart or to get across a river. If someone agreed to the request, Pamorak would sneak into the village and begin to exterminate inhabitants. Pamorak could also pretend to be a mutilated old woman and knock on the first house it came across, asking for a sleepover. If people felt sorry for the crone and let her into the house, both animals and children got dangerously ill there.