The recent Sky series is expertly made nightmare fuel.

The Outsider has generated serious El Cuco intrigue…

Stephen King, you sure know how to freak us all out!

The 72-year-old American author is arguably the best-known horror writer of his generation and has captivated readers consistently for decades. 

His work is full of scares and shocks, but thanks to a wealth of deeper themes he’s ever so preoccupied with, there’s always so much more to King. The most notable works are It, The Shining, Misery, Pet Sematary, The Green Mile… honestly, it would be far too easy to continue citing his vast array of influential novels. 

Fortunately for us, he very much still has the unwavering ability to impress, as his 2018 book The Outsider has recently proven. Just like much of his other works, it was ripe for adaptation. 

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The Outsider


Developed by Richard Price, this Sky mini-series adaptation of King’s The Outsider has attracted widespread acclaim from audiences. 

It’s mysterious, gritty, gloomy, and honestly, this is exactly how it should have turned out. 

In the wake of a horrific murder, investigators and officials are stumped by the conflicting evidence they begin to gather. As the case progresses, things become far more unexplainable, and audiences quickly suspect that a stunning reveal is just around the corner to knock their socks off. 

That was certainly the case. The outsider which the title references is in fact El Cuco. In the series, this monster is able to take the DNA of others and become another twisted version of them. However, this isn’t just a recycled Pennywise… this was wholly inspired by a renowned folk tale!

Where does El Cuco originate from?

As highlighted by Refinery29, the strange tale of El Cuco goes way back. 

The creature was first described by a Greek historian – Diodorus Siculus – born in 90 BC. In some texts, he wrote about Iberian soldiers making offerings to a creature, piercing heads on spears to appease it.

The historian didn’t actually call him El Cuco, though. It’s believed that the name derives from “coconut,” but this hasn’t exactly been something historians have firmly agreed on. 

It’s since adopted sinister mythology, and many parents have been known to tell their children that the creature will get them if they don’t behave. 


Exploring El Cuco

According to the earlier source, El Cuco is essentially a monster with a taste for children and can take many forms – as explored in The Outsider. 

It’s basically the boogeyman in the context of Spanish and Latin American cultures. Early tales also describe the being as having the head of a dragon, but there are many variations depending on location. 

Mexico’s story of it describe a red-eyed beast impossible to capture, and Brazil tales can sometimes favour the description of a human-alligator hybrid. 

So, there was lots to inspire King. Yet, he was always going to add his own flavour to the creature, making it his own. He certainly managed that! 

In other news, is Uncut Gems based on a true story?