Inhuman villains can be anything from Dracula, to the perfect storm. These villains are more monstrous because they are monsters, lacking the weaknesses that a human is heir to.
Here we wander into the realms of science fiction, fantasy and horror. The aliens, the orcs, the dragons are all in the running. The other type of story that relies on these villains, are a class of stories known as man against Nature. Hurricanes, typhoons, twisters can all play the part of the villain.
When nature is the villain, it must be merciless, murderous, and relentless. In ‘To Build a Fire’ Jack London, describes the conflict between a man and the cold of a Klondike winter on the trail. There is no sun by day, for this is the land of the eternal night. In the air, before it could fall to the snow, the spittle crackled. This means it is colder than fifty below, colder than eighty degrees of frost. Then the cold begins to eat the man, one bite at a time. First the cheeks and nose. Even reading this story on the warmest day of the year, makes me shiver and reach for a sweater.
The problem with nature as the villain is that this choice lacks any emotions, unless the author uses pathetic fallacy. So while the northern cold has no anger or rage against the man, it also has no potential for pity. This is a villain without remorse, who cannot be bought off, cannot be bargained with.
At the other extreme for inhuman villains lies the vampire and the preeminent of the ilk must be Dracula from the book by Bram Stoker. Here we have a monster that lives on human blood. However, it is the way Stoker suggests that Dracula wants more than blood. He wants to seduce and corrupt Lucy, turning her into a monster like him. This forces the heroes, including Lucy’s husband to stake her heart, behead her, and fill her mouth with garlic. That erotic element continues to run through vampire stories to this day.
For relentless, the award for a machine has to go to the robot Terminator, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He arrives from the future naked, but almost before the movie has really started, the Terminator kills a gang member, a gun-shop manager, and two other women named “Sarah Connor” listed in the telephone directory. Even near the end of the movie, the one armed, legless Terminator continues to try to kill Sarah. I couldn’t have been the only person impressed. In 2008, The Terminator was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the American National Film Registry.
To round out the list, I think I have to go with ‘He who must not be named’. When a character is so frightening, that even his name has power, he is a force without putting in an appearance. Lord Voldemort impinges in some way on all of the Harry Potter books and movies. Yet, he does surprisingly little. Instead Harry has different lessor villains to battle as he grows. This is the most human of our inhuman villains. Partly this is because he began his life with birth. The other reason is that Rowling has admitted that Voldemort was “a sort of” Adolf Hitler.
I know. I left off your favorite inhuman villain. Perhaps it was HAL9000, the wicked witch of the west, Darth Vador, the shark from Jaws, Freddy Kruger, the Joker, or any one of the evil queens from fairy tales.
To see some of my short stories go to www.edwardmcdermott.net