Let’s review the pro’s and con’s of the different types of horror movies bad guys:
Human-you-can’t-kill: Jason and Michael come to mind immediately. This is an interesting concept. They look like they should be able to be reasoned with because they’re human, but they can’t. And, worse, that kitchen knife only pisses them off more, but doesn’t kill them! No super powers here, other than invincibility. They seem to walk way way way too slow and yet they catch up to you. You can easily hide from them, but eventually they find you. You don’t have a lot of options to kill them, but honestly just poking their eyes out should pretty much take them out of business.
Vampire/Werewolf/Zombie: The romantic vampires will make you have an orgasm while they drink your blood—talk about the “little death! If they do the vampire the right way, he’s just feeding like in “30 Days of Night” and has no soul. That’s horrifying. They can’t be killed and they want you with a hungry focus. Good combo for terror, but admittedly, these monsters are very predictable. We know vampires, we know werewolves, we know zombies. There’s a little wiggle room, but not a lot. There’s just no mystery left in that marriage…
Supernatural: We’re talking about ghosts such as in “Poltergeist” or “The Changeling,” of course, but in this category we can also include inanimate things that are animated such as “Chucky” doll and the ventriloquist doll in “Dead Silence.” As well, I’d include robots and computers in this category. Sure, they can’t be killed. Sometimes they present themselves as one thing and end up being something different. Can you really trust that doll sitting in the rocking chair? How do you know when you sleep at night there isn’t an invisible ghost nearby watching, lurking, waiting? This is a pretty good category because it can come in so many forms, it allows for a lot of creativity and it can’t be killed (unless you know some special spell or chant from a book of Necronomican…) It doesn’t have to follow the laws of physics either.
Monsters: The dragons in “Reign of Fire,” Predator and Alien, the Creeper in “Jeepers Creepers” (my personal favorite monster); all improbable beings that can’t really exist. Because they live in the world of fantasy, we can’t really see ourselves plugged into the hero/heroine’s position. It’s another world in which such a thing exists and so we feel safely removed, sort of like playing “make believe” with GI Joe and Barbie as kids.
Conscienceless killers: Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates come to mind as the more charming and unsuspecting ones. Then, there’s also the out-right freaky killer ones like your serial stalkers in “American Psycho” and “The Strangers.” They have a very personal agenda and a need to kill that consumes them. If you get in their way, you’re up for a fight. They get the most pleasure out of your terror, so you won’t find mercy. Still, they are killable, so there’s that hope.
Which category most scares you and why?