The MONSTERS of classic horror stories were loners. Dracula awakened each night in his isolated castle. Frankenstein, in Mary Shelley’s original, tried very hard to be accepted in human society but was rejected for his ugliness and his unnatural origins. The classic werewolf movies, starring Lon Chaney Jr., always emphasized his tortured nature. Becoming a werewolf was the result of a curse. The survivors of werewolf attacks fell victim to that curse at the rise of the next full moon.
It was all very sad and very lonely.
The myth of the lonely monster seems to be a thing of the past. In general, today’s paranormal romances, urban fantasies and supernatural stories, are “peopled” with very social creatures. I’ve read books set in demonic nightclubs, vampire television studios and haunted detective agencies.
This has led to two fundamental changes in the mythology of monsters: one, monsters are much more likely to live in groups, and, two, monsters are BORN as often as made. Growing up on classic monsters, I was very surprised to find so many altered mythologies — even vampires with biological clocks ticking toward baby making. I’m not a stickler about the rules — after all this is the kind of rule made to be broken — I’m just surprised by the number of “humanizing” variations on the theme.
Some of this simply lends itself to more and better storytelling opportunities — as groups provide fodder for romance, competition and conflict. So the rise of social monsters is great for readers and writers. I’m particularly fond of the pack of attractive werewolves in the “True Blood” series of books, by Charlaine Harris, and on TV — a lone wolf in the Lon Chaney incarnation is nowhere as much fun.
Prefer your vampires in a lonely mausoleum or at a cocktail party? How about living the undead highlife next door? Post a comment and tell me what you think.