This post started as a dinner table conversation. I don’t find Voldemort creepy. He’s ugly, evil, maniacal, and nasty, but just not creepy. My wife argued that he’s creepy because he has no nose. This point actually stemmed from my earlier post regarding everyone having rectums — or that some people may be rectally challenged (I assume this is the case). She believed that everyone had a nose. I pointed out this wasn’t true… there’s Voldemort. She responded that he was just creepy and didn’t count.
And there started the argument. Voldemort has some creepy elements … his skin and his missing nose, but the remainder of his demeanor doesn’t sell the part. We can compare this with something I would put forward as a really creepy part — the gentlemen monsters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Hush episode. They didn’t just have one creepy element, everything about them was supremely creepy.
They have creepy skin; they have creepy expressions; they do creepy things; they’re silent (very creepy); they take away your voices (creepy) so that you can’t kill them (they are only killed by noise — which is creepy); they do that British clap-clap thing (silently, more creepy); they have creepy hunchback henchmen (not pictured); and they have that oh-so-creepy permanent smile expression. In fact, Buffy’s “Hush” episode is the creepiest 42 minutes of television I’ve ever watched. I highly recommend both the “Hush” episode and the Buffy series in general. Very much a foundational geek series.
Creepy is more about how a character acts than specifically how a character looks. I find invariably that actors best at portraying creepy characters do not always (or even often) do so. Jim Carey’s performance in “The Mask” was very creepy, but many of his other performances didn’t include any creep factor. Creepiness is not doing the opposite of normal — it’s doing something almost normal, but definitely not right.
In the Harry Potter series, I find the Snape character much more creepy. I must confess that I have not read the books and, as my wife points out, I don’t know if Snape falls in the good or the bad section. For the purposes of this discussion, it doesn’t matter. Characters can be creepy-good or they can be creepy-evil. Creepy is an uncomfortable vibe, not an alignment.
I chose a fairly bland photograph of Snape here to compare well with the Voldemort picture above. Even in this picture, he’s creepy. What’s he hiding under that cape? His cape is even creepy. He’s standing so the shot looks up at him (creepy) and he’s always got that aloof “I know things you will never know” look (creepy). He’s also got the quiet sneek-into-a-scene and scare everyone down pat (great creepy skill). Snape is just Creepy.
Before the great holy heck of Harry fandom comes down to light my blog on fire and roast marshmallows, I take care to point out that while some super-villains are creepy, being creepy isn’t a requirement for a great super-villain… or for that matter a great nemesis.