Take a second. Exactly what did you visualize when you read that word? Did you see a pale, young man or woman whose skin reminded you of sparkling marble? Or perhaps your mind wandered into the sensual with a virile man or sexy woman who dredged up the secret passions of your loins?
Did anyone imagine a male or female who had no other desire than to suck all the blood out of your body before casting you aside like an empty plastic water bottle? One of the reviews of my co-written vampire novel - Ancient Blood The Amazon - stated "The book is an excellent read filled with the psycho-sexual depredations of vampires in their more traditional incarnation, but with a modern twist that keeps the reader engaged rather than bored.
Again, what did you imagine? Was the creature slow and mindless? Lumbering with a goal? Faster than you? Conniving? Comic relief?
In today's society we have sanitized our monsters to where they are our friends, or worse, a joke. Today's vampires don't want to drain you of your life essence. No, they want to be your friend and live a normal life within society. The same holds true for werewolves, zombies, mummies and a plethora of other monsters.
Mermaids. Those lovely creatures of the water. We all agree they are beautiful, sensual, and desirable. Yet, originally, these minions of the sea were vicious and their only desire was to see your vessel destroyed, and most likely, you become food, or die, sinking into the depths of their watery world.
Dragons. Are they fire-breathing behemoths flying through the air, destroying mankind, demanding virgin sacrifices, and squatting on the collected gold? Or, are they peaceful beasts who share their life with virtuous men, fighting evil? They've been redesigned into wyverns, worms, and other mythological creatures with and without magical powers. Are they good? Bad?
Orcs? Demons? Succubi? Werewolves? Mummies? Are they your nightmare or your buddy?
Let's go another route...
Fairies. Are they good or bad? Really? Fairies are light, beings of the fantastic. Do we approach them like Glinda, the good witch of the south, who would ask? Are you a good fairy? Or a bad fairy?
On that note - how about witches and warlocks? Are they good? Or are they bad?
Originally, witches were hags who brewed their cauldrons for only one thing, a curse. I believe L. Frank Baum created the first "good" witch. I may be wrong, correct me, if so. Still, Halloween was filled with flying broomsticks operated by witches with their feline sidekicks. The movie, Hocus Pocus, gave us the evil witch, but threw in comical relief to make it a "family" movie. Considering the theme of the movie - stealing and sucking the life force out of children - if not for the comedy, could have been a very dark and scary movie... definitely an "R" rating.
Warlocks were their counterpart. Again, their magic was created to subsidize the dark. But, over time, they were sanitized into good beings who lead or helped epic adventures or managed schools.
Leprechauns are another group of creatures who have been through the mill, so to speak. Originally they were little people who, if caught, would possibly give up their pot of gold for their freedom. An example - Darby O'Gill and the Little People. Years later, enter "Leprechaun" (the horror movies) where the poor creature will resort to mayhem and bloodshed to retain its pot of gold. If these creatures were real, I'm sure many of them would be in therapy trying to find their identity.
Are monsters good? Bad? Indifferent?
Should we sanitize these creatures to imbue them as "fun" people? Or, should we resort back to the original design? Variety is the spice of life. Yes, but do we want a variety or do we want to strip these creatures of the magical qualities to scare the bejesus out of us?
I see nothing wrong with good and bad. What I see wrong is the going astray to sanitize them, stripping away the horror that made them what they are. I have no problem with a vampire that rips the throat out after finishing a bloody meal. I have no issue with a vampire who wants to assist the cops on the night force as a hematologist. But, I do call "foul" when the vampire is forced to drink bottled animal or synthetic blood so s/he can be around humans and control the blood lust within them.
And don't get me started on aliens. My aspect? If aliens come to Earth, they come to conquer and strip the planet. Why else would one want to leave their planet? They aren't coming because they like our flowers. They need our resources - and one of those resources might just be us!
Until next I ramble on...