Villains are People, Too

  Quick, name your favorite horror villain. The haunted house in Amityville Horror? The zombies in World War Z? The shark in Jaws? That might be a tough question because, often, the villain in horror is a mindless force of nature or so abstract as to be faceless. Sometimes that works well because mystery is a big part of horror and showing too much about the villain can diminish the dread. If there’s an unusually great premise or protagonist to carry the weight of the story and provide interesting developments throughout, an archetypical or simplified villain may be all that’s needed. When the villain is a real, identifiable individual, however, horror stories often stoop to tired motivations, resulting in a one-dimensional villain who lacks any real motivation and is just evil for evil’s sake. Whether it’s a cackling, mustachioed baddie bent on world domination or just an evil capitalist happy to pave over gentle nature as part of a real estate project, thinly-written villains make for a dull story. In contrast, who’s the most famous of all horror villains? Dracula would certainly be a strong contender . . .  as would Hannibal Lecter, his modern-day counterpart (who prefers food he can…

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