Or, can a monster be a monster?
This is a hard one for me because I write vampires, all of whom would describe themselves as monstrous in many ways, but not monsters.
Of course the sympathetic vampire started with . . . Carmilla! She beat Dracula by 25 years!
What prompted this post wasn’t vampires with whom you can sit down and earnestly talk before they drain you dry. It was goddamned Jeepers Creepers.
I hate this movie so much that I watched it and the sequel last night, and I figured out why Jeepers Creepers works and Jeepers Creepers 2 doesn’t. The sequel brought us too close to the monster.
Okay, let’s define the movie monster we’re dealing with here. We’re dealing with the bizarre, horrifying, disgusting, demonic, soul-devouring THING that’s never been a person. This isn’t the type of monster you can even try to reason with because once it notices you, you’re dead.
Monsters got wimpy for a while there; maybe that’s why zombies are so popular. Zombies are way worse than the demon from Jeepers Creepers. They aren’t even interesting.
And that right there is why Jeepers Creepers 2 fails. It brings us too close to the monster. The closer we get to the monster, the less it scares us.
The monstrous vampire in my first book has a backstory that readers learn as the series progresses, but essentially, this vampire was a human monster and was chosen to become a vampire for that reason. But you’re not going to get chummy with it. You’re not going to spend much time with it, for the same reason we shouldn’t have spent so much time with the monster in Jeepers Creepers 2: Both are simply evil things.
Times are bad and we’re trying to make chummy with century-old villains, like the villains in fairy tales. There’s no understanding of why DAMMIT THAT PERSON IS JUST BAD. There are too many excuses.
Vampires can be amplified versions of ourselves, our desires, our evils. Or, they can just be monsters.
If your villain is a vile creature, let it run free. Monsters require no reason nor rhyme. Just don’t allow it to spend to much time onstage, because the more we see of it, the more we question it, and questioning the monster saps its power.