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Yes, monsters. And don’t go all girly on me. You liked them too. Admit it.

We’ve all been fascinated with monsters from the time we were at least three. Huddling under the covers with a flashlight, telling scary stories when our parents thought we were asleep. Yeah, you remember.

I got to wondering exactly what makes “horror” such a big market in film and fiction after reading a blog post by Tim Kane on the Five Most Common Misconceptions About Classic Movie Monsters. Monsters have been an uber-hot commodity for a looooong time. Way before Buffy or Twilight, that’s for sure.

But why?

Why do we conjure up grotesque creatures only to hurry through dark streets, afraid they’ll jump out of the shadows?

As soon as I asked myself this, the answer hit me like a stake through the heart (OK, maybe that’s just a tad melodramatic). Alfred Hitchcock once said that the scariest things are the things we can’t see. Monsters put a face on our fears, and once they have form we can conquer them.

The simple fact is … we need monsters. The hero’s light shines brightest when it’s contrasted against the greatest darkness. Enter …  the monster.

Great stories require terrible villains, and Monsters are the perfect casting call. Nothing tests a hero’s strength like a monster. What would Harry Potter’s story been without Voldermort?

A badass monster generates conflict in epic proportions. Our hero has to dig deep to surmount superhuman obstacles, rising above fear and character flaws to save the day. Remember Indiana Jones going into the pit of snakes, his worst nightmare?

We pay good money to go on the journey with our hero (monsters and all), because along the way we glimpse what it would be like to conquer our own inner demons and triumph in the end.

So yeah, monsters are awesome. You’ve gotta love to hate them.

What’s your favorite monster from film or fiction?