Beast in the Maze

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Now we know how the book got its name.

The worst part about being lost in a maze is sometimes not the fact that it has so many twists and turns that look identical and at times seem to shift its corridors. What can really make them troublesome is that sometimes, they are the home of a vicious monster. A creature that prowls the labyrinth in search of prey, the entire maze its giant lair. Often, the creature isn't seen onscreen, with the only hints that something is living in there the bones of its victims, giant footprints, claw marks on the walls, Shadow Discretion Shots, and the occasional roar of something nearby. In many cases, this is to intensify the suspense of the one lost in the labyrinth, culminating in The Reveal Shot in which The Hero finally comes face to face with the monster.

Be warned. If the creature catches wind that someone is trespassing within its domain, it will continuously pursue its prey until either they manage to escape its lair or kill the beast. Usually in games, this beast ends up being the Boss Battle you'll have to win in order to escape. However, it is possible that the creature is too powerful for you to fight and the only thing you can do is keep away from it otherwise you'll die if it catches you.

This type of creature is a favorite to villains, who tend to confine monsters dangerous to even them to dungeons underneath their castles while at the same time, employ a Trap Door to drop The Hero and his comrades into his pet's domain, thus prolonging their suffering as they feverishly try to find the way out (if the villain was stupid enough to put one in), while trying to keep from being found by the villain's pet.

In some frightening cases, the creature is smart enough to chase their quarry so that they'll run straight into a dead end and be cornered.

The types of monsters to reside in the labyrinths vary. It can be the classic Minotaur, a being of the giant insect family, something reptilian like a giant serpent or dragon, and even a sea monster if the lair is underwater. The beast is almost always an Animalistic Abomination or Dire Beast, but can be an Eldritch Abomination as well.

Can be used in a Trapped with Monster Plot, as well as complicate Dungeon Bypass. Similar to a Dragon Hoard if the beast is guarding a vast treasure within the labyrinth. Similar to Abandoned Mine, especially if the beast's presence is a result of Dug Too Deep. Can be a variation of Sealed Evil in a Can, especially if the beast itself is searching for a way out. If the beast within the maze is a King in the Mountain, be careful not to invoke Awaken The Sleeping Giant. For beasts that are mazes, see Mobile Maze and Living Structure Monster. Similar to Isle of Giant Horrors where monsters reside on an island instead of a maze. For a wider range of monster dwellings, see Home of Monsters.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Kakurenbo, five demons hunt the group of children through a maze-like Ghost City in a twisted game of Hide and Seek until only one child is left. Four are straightforwardly monsterous in appearance and methods of hunting; their leader, the fifth, is far more subtle and horrifying.
  • In Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth, one of Touhou's manga stories, one chapter has Reisen and Tewi getting lost in the basement of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, which is where the mentally unstable, highly dangerous Flandre happens to be locked up.

    Comic Books 
  • One of André Franquin's Idées Noires comics is about a prisoner sent to a maze that turns out to be a planetoid. In a sequel comic, penitentiary officials appear in an helicopter, tell the perp that his sentence has been worsened, and proceed to airdrop a live leopard into the labyrinth.
  • Mazeworld: At the center of the Death Trap-filled maze is the Doomster, a monster which adapts itself to the fears of the person who has managed to venture that far.

    Literature 
  • The mysterious beast in House of Leaves stalks the explorers of the house, which quickly reveals itself to be an Eldritch Location that twists and changes around them. What the beast is is left ambiguous, with various theories in and out of universe calling it a (or maybe the) minotaur, a personification of the house, or an Animalistic Abomination.
  • Used a couple of times in the Harry Potter series:
  • The Beast of London in Neverwhere is an archetypal mythical creature comparable to the alligators in the sewers of New York. It takes the form of a gigantic boar and prowls a maze far, far, beneath the city where it also incidentally guards the prison of the angel Islington.
  • In the Watership Down story "The Story of the Comical Field," El-Ahrairah goes into a maze that turns out to be home to an undescribed horror.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Horns of Nimon" features an alien monster that lives in a maze where the walls shift around to prevent anyone escaping. The Nimon looks something like a bull-headed man, and is explicitly compared to the Minotaur.
    • "The God Complex" features an alien Minotaur that lives in a hotel-like maze that abducts those who have different faiths and beliefs, it's endless rooms containing the greatest fear of its prisoners to break that faith, reducing the prisoner to uttering "Praise him", allowing the Minotaur to feed on them.
    • In "Heaven Sent", the Doctor finds himself in a revolving castle with a mysterious creature that slowly chases him, only pausing when the Doctor confesses one of his secrets. The Doctor eventually makes it out by breaking through a wall of solid diamond that took him over a billion years to break through, having to constantly renew himself every time the monster caught him. After he escapes, it's revealed to have been his confession dial.

    Myths & Religion 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Two Dungeons & Dragons modules have a minotaur with its lair inside a maze.
    • B2 Keep on the Borderlands. The minotaur has a cave complex inside the Caves of Chaos. Its caves have a spell on them that causes intruders to lose all sense of direction.
    • S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. Somewhere in the Caverns is a teleportation trap that sends victims to other planes of existence. One possible destination is a giant labyrinth with two minotaurs riding bulls. They will hunt down and kill anyone inside the maze.

    Video Games 
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, in order to obtain the spores needed to make an antidote for Joker's Titan formula, Batman has to traverse the sewers underneath Arkham Island, while being pursued by Killer Croc.
  • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow has a literal Minotaur inside a maze (it's even on the box art) that the Winged Ones chuck the protagonist into if he's tenacious and foolish enough to visit their realm. In theory he's trying to save their princess, but mainly it's their attempt to get rid of him. However, if he manages to save the girl and get out alive, they owe him a favor.
  • One level of Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus appropriate titled "Lair of the Beast" involved Sly sneaking through a swamp where one of the Fiendish Five was housing a giant serpent, with Sly needing to keep a head of it once it appeared onscreen.
  • The Mole Men from Vanish serve as this.
  • In Hunt the Wumpus, the player hunts the titular monster (which can be distinguished only by its stench) within a cave whose twenty rooms are connected like the vertices of a dodecahedron.
  • The Legend of Zelda series is made up of these, with the player character having to traverse labyrinth-like dungeons to find one of the Big Bad's lead monsters.
  • 3-D Monster Maze on the Sinclair ZX81 deposits the first-person player in a labyrinth with a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The objective: escape before you become Rex's lunch.
  • Monsters wander five of the six mazes of Escape From The Mindmaster. They're just trying to find their way out just like you, but if you bump into one, you lose a chance.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

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