Who will be the next monster?

I've discussed the idea of monsters previously in my article, Loving the Monster, and the recent Hallowe'en season has got me thinking about it all over again.

It seems to me that most of the fictional monsters and villains we meet through books, films and TV these days are generally created in a way that we can understand their crimes or brutal approach. For instance, in the novel, The Warm Bodies (and subsequent film) by Isaac Marion, we find a zombie who grows tired of his life of noshing human flesh and seeks something more, well, human. He wants to fall in love and have experiences beyond his condition.

In Dexter, the character of the title is a serial killer who appears to take delight in his gruesome murders but only slaughters criminals who have escaped justice.

Time and again, the actions of fictional monsters and villains can be explained away but what happened to having a baddie who was just bad? I miss that.

We need more thoroughly evil characters like Freddie Krueger, the Hitcher, the Candyman and Pennywise from Stephen King's It. I don't want to sympathise with a monster or a villain. I want them to scare me and endanger the characters I'm rooting for.

What about you? Do you like to understand the monster or would you rather be scared witless by an unrelenting villain?


  1. This is really interesting, because there seems to be a rise in novels and TV shows where the bad guy, no matter how wrong his actions, comes across as likeable and sympathetic. Sometimes unintentionally so - I am a Breaking Bad fan, and read that the creator was really surprised by the audience's reaction to Walter White. He was a villain, a bad guy, who did bad things to innocent people, but for some reason the audience were behind him right up until the end.

    Similarly in Mad Men, Don Draper is a bad man. He is adulterous and has no morals, but yet we like him and want him to be okay.

    Villains these days are just everyday folk whose life circumstances and decisions lead them to villainous behavior. We can identify with them, because they are just like us.

    I do like a good humanized villain, but let's face it, sometimes you just need to be scared!!:)

  2. I like when the villain has a reason for being evil, but I don't want to sympathize with him. I want him to be evil.

  3. I actually worried that my bad guys in my WIP were too unbelievable because they were all bad, so I've set about giving them more nuance and identifying what their redeeming qualities would be. Now I see that you wouldn't mind too much if they were all bad!

  4. Thanks for the comments, guys. I like being scared, that's my trouble.

  5. Hey, Candyman wasn't all bad! He was a tragic character.
    When it comes to villains, I enjoy both types. Loki (from Thor and The Avengers movies), for example, is a sympathetic villain I really enjoy. On the other hand, villains "we love to hate" are also good, and so are plain monsters (like zombies in The Walking Dead).
    I guess that plain monsters are the best for scaring us, though I doubt I'd feel comfortable sitting next to Dexter. :D

  6. Oh my gosh, Fi - that clown from Stephen King's "IT" always scares the bejaaaayzus out of me!!!

    I think that getting to know the evil character in-depth is part of what really terrifies me the most! 'Tho, of course, we never got to that stage with Freddy Krueger and he STILL scares me silly :)

  7. Actually, realistic bad guys are much scarier than cartoonish Snidely Whiplashes, curling their mustaches and chortling with glee at their evildoing. I find HItler (who was a vegetarian, monogamous, and a teetotaller) much scarier than Freddy Kruegar, because I can't pretend someone like him could never happen in real life.

  8. I do like a lot of villains/monsters where there is a background to/explanation of why they're like that but it just seems that there aren't many of the other type out there at the moment and I miss those.

  9. I like to hate my villains and want my readers to hate them too. And the same goes when I am reading a book. I want evil villains who are evil through and through. I do like to know their motive, of course, but I don't want get a sob story.


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