I’ve been thinking about minotaurs and labyrinths lately. The story structure is a pretty simple, but interesting concept-
- Limited area. Claustrophobic.
- People being hunted in this limited area
- The creature hunting- supernatural. Primal.
- Characters that survive do so by wit & ingenuity (wings etc)
There are a lot of similarities with this and the haunted house motif. Of course with the Haunted House there are more than one in the cast, or more than two, but a group of people hunted. This is probably to show that the death is real, that the threat is real. And the house is usual old, ancient, almost sentient itself. The house becomes a character. It becomes a supernatural labyrinth, with moving doors and hallways.
It’s interesting because House of Leaves explored this idea really well (something I’d forgotten until recently- though it’s been 10 years since I read it…so…), the connection between labyrinth and haunted house, of ghost and minotaur. The structure to both are simple narrative structures, hunted, hunter, etc.
This can also be seen in slasher films- which are, in a way, an extended version of the haunted house story. Usually there is a single house – check the original Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, etc. The house becomes the trap, and the murdering creatures are primordial. They usually don’t speak (notice in Texas Chainsaw Massacre that the ones who actually perform acts of murder don’t speak- or even attempted acts of murder), which reflects an even more primal, even more animistic in nature.
What these creatures, these minotaurs want is not important. Why they kill is unimportant. What they represent is something else, something complex and troubling. Maybe in our own psychology, or something. Whatever. It’s interesting that so many of these structures are used in horror- even at its core Alien is a minotaur story, or a haunted house in space.
Then you also have it in the video game landscape. What I’m mostly thinking about is Shadow of the Colossus, which, like House of Leaves is a love story of sorts, but using this same structure.
So this ancient undying thing hunts the victims. Some shamanstic beast, summoned from the shadows, going after the things it hunts in a maze that represents somehow the land of spirits, of the dead, etc. Maybe it wants to die. Maybe it wants to live? It hungers for something somehow. The idea contains two arcane symbols- the beast and the maze.
Also of note- does Beauty and the Beast also represent this story structure? It seems to make sense, esp the Jean Cocteau film. The manse as maze, supernatural in origin, the beast itself the minotaur, Belle’s wings are not made of wax but of something other. Another use of this structure as a love story. Is this also connected to Orpheus? A different maze. A different punishment. Never look back, you never look back…
And of course, Bluebeard is mostly definitely connected to this. As well as all of its variants (Fitcher’s Bird, Mr. Fox, etc).
Just some strange random things I’ve been thinking.