ISO modern supernatural baddies

The humanized supernatural is a huge thing right now. Fantasy romances featuring vampires, werewolves, the undead, etc. are a big hit. Most of the focus is on vampires. The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer features a teenage girl who falls for a vampire and it's sitting atop the Amazon best seller list. There are tons of other fiction genres that have leapt into supernatural angles to spice up old plots. Now HBO has a new series, True Blood, which is a Southern Gothic vamp soap opera.

As a result, vampires just don't seem that scary anymore. They are emotionally vulnerable, thoroughly humanized, even enviable. They have issues, personalities and goals. These angles are entertaining, but it reduces them in a way. In fact, all the supernatural monsters seem trite, played out, overused. Maybe we have humanized too much, or maybe the world has changed in a way that they no longer have a grip on us. We've turned them into another class of superheroes, really. Which may be cool, but it's not scary.

These types of things used to be scary, viscerally scary. The very thought of some supernatural monster would drive a spike of fear into your heart. They were tied to the old Joseph Campbell archetypes and represented threats to the very fabric of human society:

  • Vampires subvert morality, especially for women, and they are death incarnate.
  • Werewolves represent losing control, and the threat of spreading that loss of control.
  • Zombies represent a loss of personality, a loss of self that can't be stopped and is highly contagious. As rotting corpses, they also represent disease and death.
  • Witches are strong confident women with power over men, threatening the patriarchy.
  • Ghosts are the past come back to haunt the guilty
I think we need a new set of supernatural baddies that can actually scare us. I don't know what those baddies would be, but they should be things or beings that scare the crap out of us just by their very existence. In the next post I'm going to throw some ideas out about what those things might be.

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