Can a Villain Be a Villain?

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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.

Zombie Night

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*contains spoilers*

I’m not a zombie fan as such, but I do like a good zombie movie. Those are hard to find despite the fact that there are so very many. Most, like Dawn of the Dead, start out fairly well and descend into gore and nonsense. Zombie Night has an uneven beginning and I almost changed the channel because there were so many characters making ridiculously poor decisions, but I watched the whole movie, mainly because Anthony Michael Hall’s character was strong and well-written, and I ended up liking the movie.

Dumb decisions: locking Birdie’s blind, confused mother in the basement and locking Irina in a room “for safety.” The girl falling into the open grave gets a “meh” from me. It felt like a way to kill off a character, but it did make sense because she was running through a graveyard full of zombies.

Anthony Michael Hall’s character emerges the hero in the bright light of morning. Having the zombies go dormant in daylight was a plot device I haven’t seen yet in a zombie movie. I liked the fact that Birdie was bitten and didn’t turn, but that was left open-ended as well as what would happen to all the inert zombies when the sun set. If you like zombie movies, you’ll like this one. If you’re not a big zombie fan but you like horror, you may still like Zombie Night. Try to imagine The Purge with zombies. Check it out if you get a chance.