Stuart Vyse wonders:
Halloween is a kind of Rorschach test of our common fears, and the available evidence suggests our nightmares fall into different categories. For example, we are afraid of murderous people and monsters, but we find them particularly frightening if they have some kind of extra deficit.
So, for example, zombies (an entirely fictional concept), as portrayed in contemporary movies and television shows—are fearful because, in addition to having the single motivation of gobbling up humans, they are amoral, soulless creatures, machine-like in their unwavering pursuit of flesh. In the case of common horror film villains, an additional creepiness is derived from a mixture of evilness and madness—amoral blankness and psychopathology. Thus the most successful of horror villains, such as Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers, combine both the absence of a moral anchor and the unpredictability of mental illness.
Of particular interest to me is the portrayal of scientists as fearsome crazies.