You know who they are. They’re the memorable ones. The ones that flash across the screen. Or leap from the headlines. Sometimes they’re safely imprisoned within the pages of a book. No matter what the source, it’s these scoundrels that capture our imagination and hearts. Elevated to the throne of immortality, they endlessly fascinate us by being what they are.
This blog is devoted to them … the icons that launch their own genre and make hockey masks fashionable. We know we love their despicable ways, but what elements go into making a legend? While we can readily identify those chosen few from the blizzard of ideas and stories that we are subjected to each day, the reasons for selecting these personalities for stardom is murky at best.
Making evil likable would seem an impossible task, and yet, it’s what these handful of villains do. Yes, we cringe at their exploits, screaming in horror at their bloody rampages, but inside we crave more. It’s this dichotomy that any true alpha psychopath must possess. They all have the ability to string us along while we pray for the good guys to mete out justice that will never come. It’s a tightrope act, but these phenomenons perform the balancing act with nary a wobble. Whether they be monster, creature, alien from outer space, or plain home-grown mass murderer, they seem unstoppable.
During the following weeks, we’ll be bringing you some pretty fabulous authors who will share their thoughts on this subject. They’ll be revealing who their favorites are and why. And if there’s a wrong doing misfit that we don’t cover—one you’d like to see—than please nominate your sociopath for dissection by leaving a comment.
As for me, I’d like to kick off the chaos by giving my own Must Have List that these superstars must possess to truly be in the running for the title of “Best Monster Ever!”
MUST HAVES FOR ANY TRULY HORRIFYING LEGEND
1. AN OMNIPRESENCE. The ability to be there at the right time and take advantage of a victim’s vulnerability. While intelligence allows them to outthink us, it’s feral intuition that keeps them a step ahead.
2. ANTICIPATION. Hearing about or having the victim slowly uncover the clues that reveal they’re in deep shit. Laurie in Halloween springs to mind as does Rosemary in Rosemary’s Baby.
3. UNIQUENESS. The ability to be exclusively twisted seems part and parcel of being a legend. So whether it’s chicly wearing a William Shatner mask, or dispatching victims to a better place by leaving their own calling card, these snake charmers had better be one of a kind. Think Frankenstein. A creation of a horrific nightmare, he definitely started his own industry.
4. ENIGMATIC. These sickos are mysterious. There’s something about them that we don’t understand, but we want to. We want to know what makes them tick. It’s why so many real-life serial killers that fit into this classification are often ones that were never caught. Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac Killer, and the Black Dahlia murder spring to mind, but even our fictional versions follow this pattern of being unfathomable.
5. HUMOR. These ghastly clowns are often unintentionally funny. There’s a real quirkiness that belies the situation that they’re mired in. Hannibal Lecter’s chattering of the teeth or Jack Torrance proudly announcing, “Wendy, I’m home!” set off a round of hilarity. Often heightening the gruesome nature of what they were plotting, humor is a perfect foil for horror.
6. TAP INTO A COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS. I think this last is the most perplexing to understand, but the grim perpetrators of mayhem seem to hit on a common fear. One that most of us share, the terror seems heightened into almost a paranoia at viewing or reading about them. I’d liken it to a phobia—one that crosses age brackets and economic barriers. It hits us in our fear center and produces shivers, adrenalin to spare, and almost a loyalty that turns us into devoted followers. They become addictive.
This concludes my personal list. And as the banner says, my own entry into the land of legends will begin in 45 days. He’s a monster you won’t soon forget so stay tuned for news on this release. I’ll be adding hints in Tales to Be Told.
The countdown begins …