The Real World Applications of Monsters from Horror Literature
Classic horror literature and its many inspirations, rip-offs, and retelling's, came from very real sources and sometimes have a way of being a sort of social commentary. Characters like Dracula, Frankenstein, the zombie, and The Wolfman, though they're way beyond what's naturally possible, have a way of being perfect characterizations of humanity at its worst, or its most tragic. This is why in more ways than one, the horror genre, much like comedy, can tell certain truths we'd rather avoid about ourselves and the world around us. Monsters like vampires, werewolves, and science experiments gone wrong bound inside books, movies, or shows. They live and walk among us.
Monsters have a way of being veiled social commentary, and the Vampire is perhaps the most prevalent example of this. As a fictional character, metaphor, and as very real folklore, every corner of the Earth has their own variation of the vampire going back to Lilith from the Talmud, who according to some translations came back to Adam and Eve in the form of a Vampire (don't quote me on that). Their character is so powerful because of what they represent. The allure of evil. The fact that we're attracted to the things that will one day kill or enslave us, sometimes both.
Their sex appeal tricks one into forgetting the killers they are, turning you if they wish into a hopeless devotee with no will of your own. And while like a loyal dog you're willing to do just about anything for them, like Renfield in Dracula, that loyalty is never returned. They suck the life from you, and fill you with the poison that runs inside of them till you're the exact same way they are, the living dead. Sound familiar? Remind you of somebody you know?
Or even the zombie. A term we now casually throw at each other without completely understanding the reality of our own zombification. And I'm not just talking about the very real voodoo practice of making zombies, where they dose you with a herb that makes you appear dead, bury you alive, unearth you, and drug you to the point where your mind is totally destroyed, doing whatever they say (trust me, just look up what Wes Craven said about it). But the way we've become programed toward willful ignorance. And seem to make these cardinal virtues in pop culture.
Perhaps that's why when you get a look at the deeper aspects of the monster, cutting out the image of them as only a monster, you find a character that is frighteningly human. And perhaps that's why we're so fascinated and repulsed with them in equal measure. Like the vampire and the werewolf, we're capable of compulsory acts that violate ourselves and others, sometimes feeling incapable to behave otherwise. And like Frankenstein's monster, when all we know is abandonment, intolerance, fear, and heartlessness, it becomes all we're focused on. Often resulting in a sublime narcissism and feeling that whatever we do at that point, we'll feel no responsibility or guilt about the harm we cause.
Humanity is bred in fear. Fear of the other tribe or nation, our neighbors, ourselves, and of course the unknown. We thrive on fear; the reason we're quick to do or say something stupid without fully understanding what we're afraid of. The power the monster is it's ability to induce fear. To make you afraid enough to do something totally foolish other than defend yourself, or lull you into being totally comfortable, and get you at random.
Monsters frighten us because they represent us at our worst. The things we're capable of becoming to sustain ourselves, at the expense of our fellow man. The compulsions that drive us toward doing something completely evil, sometimes without our knowledge of what we're doing. Perhaps our need to fictionalize them is a cover for the fact that's most upsetting. They live and walk among us.