Something that occurred to me while I was recently watching the original CASTLE FREAK: all the greatest monsters are sympathetic. Think about it. CASTLE FREAK has one of the most sympathetic monsters you’re likely to find. Yes, he does some bad things, and attempts to do even more, but how can anyone help but pity him? He was confined in chains his entire life, beaten and tortured every day by his insane mother. How could he not come out of that seriously warped? It’s no wonder he’s so violent.
Think about Frankenstein (the Monster, not the scientist). He commits some vile acts, but all he ever wanted, at first, at least, was to be loved, to be accepted. He only became “mean” after suffering multiple rejections and mistreatment. The Alien? The Thing? Not evil. They’re just doing what comes naturally to them, trying to survive. You could say the same thing about Dracula. He’s not evil; he’s just a vampire, doing vampire things. Even a villain like Jason Voorhees isn’t pure evil; he was bullied as a little boy, allowed to die because of neglect. Everything he does is retaliatory. Even Freddy Krueger…yeah, okay, Freddy is pretty dang evil. He doesn’t have any sympathetic backstory. But there are exceptions to every rule. Generally speaking, our best villains are the ones we can most identify with.