The term “rape” is a highly charged and emotional term, and it is used in this context with all due respect. The best horror reflects primordial fears of our species. Whether there are ancestral or genetically typed fears is still being explored and investigated by primatologists, paleontologists, and psychiatrists. Writers such as Edgar Allan Poe (Murders in the Rue Morgue), Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan of the Apes), Max Brand/Frederick Faust (That Receding Brow), H. P. Lovecraft (Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family), Pierre Boule (Planet of the Apes) and Brian Keene (Castaways) have explored horrific aspects of ape/primate – human interactions gone terribly wrong.
In fact, there are numerous legends and well documented cases of primates – such as orangutans - attacking human females and copulating with them. In addition, chimpanzees have been known to steal babies and eat them. Even the thought can sicken most mortals, but these blood-chilling events do take place.
Despite generations of study by top biologists and archaeologists, we are only one small step closer to understanding how similar or how different we are from primates and early humans. Or, for that matter, what it means to be human.
A brief passage in Walking with the Great Apes: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Biruté Galdikas [by Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Juntion, VT, 2009] is shocking, perhaps more so in the clinical description of what must have been a debilitating and traumatic event in the life of a local woman.
The indomitable Jane Goodall was incredibly lucky to not be accosted by either alpha-male Louis Leakey or her beloved chimpanzees. Only after she left the field did word come that chimpanzees were meat eaters – and more. It may be laughable when William Shatner recently described how a female gorilla once held his testicles in a delicate and compromising manner, but less so as we watch well-respected movie star Julia Roberts being mildly accosted by a large orangutan (about 2:20 into the video clip below). We -and she – realize how very badly this could have went for her.
It seems confirmed that Neanderthal genetic material is mixed into our own genes. There is but one way that got there. How many more, as yet undiscovered, early humans and primates are interlinked in our savage and horrific blood? Are we the top of the food chain – or just food? How thin is the veneer of civilization? The best writers of horror – from the ancients to the post-moderns – have examined and shocked us with the mirror held up to our apish souls.