If, like me, you enjoy horror movies, congratulations on being a convincing liar, because I fucking LOVE horror films and you'll never understand me, Dad.
Yet horror is, perhaps more than any other genre, often dissatisfying. Every year the same old monsters slouch into theaters. They are:
- Creepy kid's "imaginary" friend
- Zombies that are the true face of humanity
- Posturing vampire in need of ... ugh, such a slap
- Lunatic with an overcomplicated torture scheme
- Found footage of people who should have dropped the camera and run
- An exorcism based on a "true story"
- A remake of some '80s classic (this year it's The Evil Dead)
If we're lucky, we get one fresh film every year, like The Cabin in the Woods. If we're unlucky, it's The Wolfman. And if God feels that another flood isn't a sufficient enough punishment for our sins, it's another Scary Movie.
Never fear, Hollywood! I've run your tired-ass tropes through the forest of public domain beasties and found monsters even scarier than your go-to characters. My only rule is that no monster is allowed to be a lazy combination of other animals, like sphinxes or Kathy Griffin.
A succubus is a female demon that kills you by having sex with you. Often she paralyzes or hypnotizes her victims. In some versions, she drains off their vitality over several sexual encounters, but in others she'll straight up eat a bro. Succubi are a common hallucination of the "night hag" phenomenon during sleep paralysis -- which is exactly what it sounds like, except not as fun as getting free sex from a stranger who wants to do all the work.
Succubi are first mentioned in the 14th century, but have antecedents back far enough to put the "Oh! Oh! IIAAAA!" in Mesopotamia. Since writing about sex could ruin your reputation up until a few decades ago, they've never really enjoyed their moment in horror's forefront.
That moment is now. Today, technology and culture are in a war of self-determination and repression, meaning sex and fear go together like chocolate and OH MY GOD MY SEX TAPE JUST HIT 1 MILLION VIEWS.
There have been succubi in film, but they're usually more erotic than terrifying, or discounted for other reasons. For example, Succubus: Hell-Bent is disqualified because it has been legally prohibited since 1979 to call any movie with Lorenzo Lamas in it a major motion picture.
In fact, the only succubus to ever light up the celluloid was Hannah Fierman in last year's V/H/S, who was agonizingly eerie before she became a pissplosion of terror. Her other credits include "Demon Vixen" and "Bug-Eyed Girl."
So you might say she's a type.
How to Make It a Great Movie
Succubi are to nightmares what RealDolls are to fantasies that are illegal in Texas. Whatever your male sexual anxiety, there's a succubus for that. V/H/S used one in a short tale of reprehensible dudebros who bring home the crazy. Taking drunk women back to their hotel to secretly film them having sex, they learn that one of the girls is a demonic sex-cannibal.
You couldn't exploit that one-off shock for a feature-length film, because there's no suspense after the first kill. But if you opted for a succubus who will slowly drain a dude dry against his own common sense, you'd get a great metaphor for people who can't leave unhealthy relationships. Then you'd have a film in which the world gets exceedingly weirder with each encounter. And if you do kill the monster, there are plenty more for sequels, since they're all daughters of the same mother, Lilith.
In the Bible's B-side tracks, Lilith was Adam's first wife, who was created from dust (not rib!), then cast out for thinking that women were equal to men, and also for engaging in forward-thinking sexual positions -- two offenses to the Lord that you might recognize as the mark of an awesome girlfriend. Bonus: She could fly!
Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty
And organize music festivals for soulful acoustic ballads.
Like a lot of divorcees, Lilith soon found a hot boy toy: in this case, the archangel Samael. For an angel of death, he sure was fertile, because Lilith began gushing demon-babies ... so many that God threatened to kill 100 of her babies every day until she quit being so damn independent and came home to play nice. And I'm not one to tell God his business, but I've slept with more women than he has, and the way to make a woman stop resenting you is not to threaten her children.
Lilith has appeared a little bit in comics and on the show Supernatural, but usually as more of a regular ol' demon.
Manuel Parada López de Corselas/Wikipedia & The CW
The one on the left is actually an analogous goddess named Ishtar, but look, they're posing the same!
The horror is in inverting people's notions of traditional sexuality with grotesque imagery, like how Alien deliberately inverted sex and birth to unnerve its audience.
So boom: Right there, you've got all the elements for a misunderstood monster story about women's rights vs. male insecurities. Have the POV character be some suave player getting steadily dismantled by a monster who just wants to show him how great woman-on-top is. Becoming vulnerable to a woman against his own nature, either he grows as a person or he's lunch meat.
#4. Spring-Heeled Jack
The thing with Spring-Heeled Jack is that he was real -- or at least really documented. Extraordinarily tall and gaunt, he wore a helmet that couldn't conceal his burning red eyes, which smoldered for you, girl. He had a propensity for cornering women and getting grabby. So if he was some kind of alien, he must have pledged Alpha Centauri Lambda.
"Greetings, Earthlings -- take me to your kegger."
On the other hand, witnesses swore that he breathed blue flame and leaped over 9-foot walls, and how could an entire crowd of people agree on supernatural crap like that? Bullets had no effect on him, and since Teddy Roosevelt never ran from an angry mob in his life, we know it couldn't have been him.
What's crazy about Spring-Heeled Jack is how damn long people have been reporting on him -- from the mid-19th century to as recently as last year. It's not all sensational crowd mentality that's perpetuating his myth. Sometimes you just have to say yes to your heart and believe in an immortal, superpowered sexual criminal with a Cockney accent -- even if your mind knows that some prankster passed on his mantle to another.
He's sort of the V for Vendetta of sexual assault.
How to Make It a Great Movie
Jack already makes a habit of assaulting pretty young women, so he's off to a great start as a movie monster. And sure, he's steeped in Victorian lore, but with his renewed appearance, he'd be a great ultra-creeper who can get into any high-rise apartment, locked or whatever, and subsist as an unknowable urban predator -- his motives are too otherworldly to make sense.
City dwellers are locked up in taller buildings with better security systems than ever, so what's scarier than a fire-belching Other who slices through all our barriers? Squawking an electric language, this insane figure grips his victims close and gazes with burning eyes into their face for some alien purpose.
It'd prey on the same phobias as Pulse, but from the opposite end, by threatening to destroy our seclusion and not being the movie equivalent of a NyQuil overdose.
#3. The Melon Heads
Holy shucking fit, you guys, the Melon Heads are every suburban legend you ever heard crammed into one horde of creepy children (although technically, if the children are insane, that would not be a horde but a gaggle).
But the Melon Heads are the sum of every one of those stories. They're hydrocephalic children who were committed to a mental institution, where they were abused and experimented on to become even more freakish. Eventually they murdered and mutilated their doctor, escaped their asylum for the criminally insane amid a fire, and retreated to a subterranean lair, emerging only at night to satisfy their cannibal urges.
They may also be inbred Satan worshipers.
When eating people, the Melon Heads prefer babies, because even mankind's awful history didn't invent something more ghastly than a mutant eating a baby until the recent invention of the Octomom porno.
See, now you can't stop thinking of a vagina filled with flailing tentacles and a beak.
I don't want to blame the victim, but any baby wandering around outside the city limits at night is asking for this to happen. It's like I told that officer when I was pulled over last year for driving a truck full of babies that weren't mine. I told him, "I said, 'Hey, you! Babies! What are you doing out here at night? I'd better take you home before the hell-mutants get you.'" Anyway, that's why I wear this ankle bracelet now, but the message stands: Don't take your children out to the killing fields after sunset.
How to Make It a Great Movie
Granted, it sorta was a movie already, if you count some kids having fun in their backyard.
I'm not saying it isn't fun, just that its frothing mutant cannibal quotient is despairingly low. But is it a great movie? No. It runs a mere 50 minutes and contains enough badly acted dialogue to make Clerks look like Battleship Potemkin II: Tsar Wars.
Listen, this is not a finely honed shrieking horror like The Exorcist or The Ring, or really any scary movie about an adolescent girl. There are no subtleties to grace this narrative. What this is is an army of little bastards that chew a ragtag group of survivors to shreds.
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Don't worry, it's just Jeremy Renner. He's in everything.
Close it out with the revelation that all those babies were born mutated by some pollution at the factory where the whole town works and you've got yourself a ham-fisted good time.