Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Our Favorite Movie Monsters

You can't have scary movies without the Something Scary. Here are some of our favorite movie monsters.

And don't forget to keep posting in the Scary Movie Challenge III! You guys are killing it so far.

JB: Frankenstein’s Monster… is my favorite monster… of all the monsters. The reasons for this are quite personal, though for all I know, he may be a universal symbol of the human condition for a lot of people.



Frankenstein’s Monster did not ask to be born. He did not ask to be stitched together from pieces of dead men and shocked back to life with electricity. He was the unfortunate byproduct of a vainglorious man who challenged God. Once alive, the Monster was abandoned by his creator. Sometimes we all feel like a motherless child; the Monster is our perpetual motherless child.



“Your father was Frankenstein, but your mother was the lightening!” shouted Ygor in Son of Frankenstein, but Ygor was only half right.



Frankenstein’s Monster is the only one of the original Universal Pictures lineup who could make you cry. Sure, he is scary when he is angry, but in reality, he is just so goddamned sad.


Because of his rough exterior, most people misjudge the Monster and never see that he is only looking for care and safety. Because he cannot inspire kindness and acceptance, he chooses instead to inspire hate and terror. The Monster’s curious predicament speaks to me in ways far too personal to share.



I also literally have bolts in my neck.

Mike: Xenomorph, Alien - While my instinct is to pick one of the big boys as my favorite movie monster, like Dracula or Wolfman, I'm going to move away from the Universal classics and move on to a more modern classic: Alien.

This movie works on so many levels, but one of the strongest is the Alien itself. All black, slimy, phallic, and downright scary, the Alien is an oddly beautiful design that has stood the test of time. Really all of the designs in Alien are fantastic, from the face hugger to the chest burster, but it's the adult Alien that will forever haunt my dreams. Add a sense of speed and a terrible hiss, and the Alien is a perfect movie monster. In a genre that has so, so many forgettable creature designs, Alien stands out as one of horror's best.

Mark Ahn: The Thing, The Thing (1982) - So “favorite” means “most terrifying?” What I love (HATE) about the Thing is that I don’t really know what it looks like. There’s the little spindly spidery one with the legs (gross), then there’s a slightly larger one, then there’s and even bigger one where it takes that one guy’s upside down head (you know what I’m talking about). Its blood gets explosive and angry. UGH. It can rip you inside out and then puts all the pieces back together the wrong way! And just one little piece needs to live for it to survive. I’m getting itchy just thinking about it. Pass me the scotch, MacReady.

Erich: The Gremlins, Gremlins - I know the movie’s got a lot of jokes and it takes place at Christmas instead of Halloween, but Joe Dante’s twisted horror fantasy Gremlins messed me up plenty as a kid. When we first meet Gizmo the Mogwai, he’s this adorable ball of fur. High-maintenance, sure, but cute cute CUTE. Then comes the water, and the fried chicken, and wiggly rules about not eating after midnight. After that, it’s all teeth and claws and hypodermic needles in butts and motorized chairs rocketing into the Kingston Falls night. You say it’s not enough to include Stripe and his merry green band on a list of terrifying movie monsters? Consider this: In Chris Columbus’s original script they decapitated Billy’s mom and ate his dog. PLUS, in Gremlins 2: The New Batch, the beasties stage an elaborate song-and-dance number. If musical theater isn’t scary, I don’t know what is.

Alex: The Goddamn Spiders from Arachnophobia - Because ghosts, trolls, nuclear-affected iguanas, and Stay-Puft marshmallow men are fictitious, and hairy eight-legged demon spawn that can inject your body with poison through their motherfucking jaws are real. Because you become instantly paralyzed just before you die from their bite. Because they do not have the decency to let you finish watching Wheel of Fortune before they shuffle you off this mortal coil. BECAUSE THEY ARE CRAWLING ON YOU RIGHT NOW, PROBABLY.

Now, the particular arachnids found in Frank Marshall's 1990 comedy-horror (Is "staple" too strong? Sure is. Won't stop me, though.) are a bit of stretch -- the offspring of an unprecedentedly lethal Venezuelan spider with your average house-dwelling arachnid. But that's beside the point. For all the goofy schlock in the movie, it effectively seizes upon a very simple concept: Spiders are goddamn scary.

In the movie, one character analogizes them to both troops being sent out to a battle as well as "little vampires." Not vampires with abstinence issues that glisten in the sun. Vampires that scurry over your body and drain all the fluids out because God/Nature/Random Mutation engineered them that way.
If you've made it this far, you've probably put together that I don't toe the hardcore horror line the same degree as so many of my FTM brethren. The genre staples notwithstanding (Psycho, Exorcist, Halloween, et al.), my proclivities will almost always drift toward horror projects with a certain amount of levity (Dead Alive, Cabin Fever, ya know?). And while Arachnophobia exclusively resided in the Comedy section of most video stores (Google it, kids.), there is nothing funny about something the size of a Blackberry that can kill you in three seconds.

Doug:

Erika: Captain Spaulding, House of 1,000 Corpses/The Devil's Rejects - Doug is right. Clown makeup is scary. It's even scarier when it's on the face of Sid Haig. I can't figure out if these two movies work for me because they speak to so many fears I already have, or if I'm now afraid of those things because of these two movies.

Patrick: I've always been a sucker for werewolves. I think it must be because they have the coolest makeup, because when you think about it there are hardly ANY good werewolf movies. For every American Werewolf in London there's an American Werewolf in Paris. For every The Wolf Man (1941) there's a The Wolfman (2010). For every The Howling there's EVERY OTHER Howling movie.

Seriously, in order of quality, there's American Werewolf and The Wolf Man and The Howling and then probably Silver Bullet and then there's everything else. That's right -- Silver Bullet is the FOURTH BEST WEREWOLF MOVIE EVER MADE. The bar is not set high. My favorite movie monster has made so few good monster movies.

Here's why it makes no sense that my favorite monster is the werewolf: I hate transformation scenes. Always have. That's like saying you love zombie movies but you hate it when someone gets shot in the head. But as far back as I can remember, I've hated them -- something about all the pain that the person appears to be in upsets me (it's supposed to) and I can't handle it. I used to love the "Thriller" video, but I had to leave the room when Michael Jackson turned into the werewolf/cat monster/metaphor for homosexuality. I would watch Terror in the Aisles whenever it showed up on the local UHF station, but had to change the channel when they showed the clip of Rick Baker's Oscar-winning (more like Oscar CREATING) transformation in American Werewolf. I can handle it better now, but it's still my least favorite part of the movie.

What the fuck is wrong with me?

25 comments:

  1. I think Mike and I are brothers from another mother - his Top Five Movies list most closely resembles mine, his favourite Jason kill is the same as mine, he likes to play dumb about cross-species fellatio like I do AND his favourite monster is a giant, slimy, black penis, just like mine (read that sentence however you want to).

    I first experienced the Xenomorph when I was about 10 - we were staying in a hotel in Cape Breton and my dad rented "Aliens" for me to watch while they went to dinner and I babysat my 5-year old sister (totally normal, right?!). I loved it but it scarred me (as giant, slimy, black penises are wont to do) and those evil space demons haunted my dreams. Then a few years later I saw Alien 3 and slept easy knowing the monsters were dead forever and couldn't possibly ever be RESURRECTED (sigh).

    Close second would be the shark from Jaws...4: The Revenge - how did it find them in the Bahamas? DEAR GOD, HOW DID IT FIND THEM?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We also have parents that let us watch movies we were waaaay too young for. The similarities keep mounting!

      Delete
  2. If I were to pick a favorite, it would have to be PAZUZU! I'm not a big fan of horror movies in general for the sole reason that I usually don't scare all that easily, and so they wind up not doing much for me. The Exorcist is the exception. I have to prepare my self mentally and emotionally before I even begin to watch it. Not only are the effects frightening, but William Friedkins pace and attention to the real world setting lulls you into a familiarity that is shaken when the supernatural finally makes its presence known. It's truly a product of the post-Kennedy assasination/Vietnam/Watergate era where the failure of our institutions mirrors the loss of faith Father Karras struggles with as he fights the demon, eventually saving the little girl but losing his soul in the process. Just the thought that the very real evil in the world can take physical form and twist innocense so violently is a pretty scary notion all by itself. I guess it's what's kept those asses in pews for thousands of years. I like how the film affects you not only visually, but attacks you psychologically. The demon inside Regan McNeil knows how to play on the emotions, doubt, and loss of faith of each of the characters it comes into contact. Not unlike the little destructive voice speaking into our own ears every now and then... Booowahahahahahahahahah.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think you meant "Captain Spaulding" not "Captain Howdy" for House of 1000 Corpses and The Devils Rejects haha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was my mistake. Thanks for the catch.

      Delete
  4. Patrick, you haven't seen Dog Soldiers? It is right up there with the best werewolf movies, and certainly better than silver bullet. Check it out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have seen Dog Soldiers. I like it (I'm planning to watch it again during Scary Movie Month), but I have to stand by my ranking.

      Delete
    2. I like DOG SOLDIERS more with each viewing.

      Delete
    3. Doncha mean "cocker"blocking?

      Delete
    4. What exactly is this "cock" that you boys are always talking about?

      Delete
  5. My favourite not mentioned so far is Brundlefly. I love the transformation that Brundle's mind makes throughout the film. He is articulate and curious and sometimes poetic and these things seem to allow him to cope with his physical changes. His realization that he has lost his capacity for rational human thought is the really chilling aspect.

    Often the effectiveness of a monster is due to a creature design and special effects and though those are adequate here it is really Goldblum's performance and a great script that makes Brundlefly so memorable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That inside-out baboon is pretty good, too. I mean, as an actor.

      Delete
  6. My favorite "monsters" would be the sharks in the Jaws movies.

    Why? I'm afraid of the ocean (which is Latin for 'a million ways to die') and that does most of the work right there. Also, fish don't make noises (except in Jaws The Revenge where sharks growl) so they can sneak up on you and eat you without you even knowing to protect yourself. They EAT YOU! That's MESSED UP! I'm thrilled that as long as I stay out of the ocean I'm safe. It's their world and I don't have any business in it.

    E.G. When I was 5, I was afraid of the poster for Jaws the Revenge (but I looked at it every theater visit up to its release) but when it was in theaters I did a peek in (it was just people talking) and fully expected to be flat out murdered immediately by a shark. I also used play a game when I was a kid where I would jump furniture and pretend the ground was the ocean...you hit the ground, a shark eats you and you die. Because imagination :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After I saw JAWS for the first time, I was convinced a shark was living in my closet. I SHIT YOU NOT.

      Delete
    2. I just got one HECK of a prank idea!

      Delete
    3. I can't help but bring up "The Raft" from "Creepshow 2." I'd much rather be in the water with a giant great white than that man-eating oil slick. Death seems far more slow and painful from that.

      Delete
    4. Slick - the oil covered shark. Double feature in Grindhouse 2 with
      Moth-a-caust. BTW..Creepshow 2 is good! There I said it. Bonus fact: The hitchhiker in the last segment is the SAME GUY as the zombie in Tales From The Hood. It's the same part played by the same guy!

      Doug-I like how Jaws was living in the closet as opposed to just waiting in there.

      Delete
  7. I'm tied up between Freddy, Leatherface, and Leprechaun. They all hold a special place in my childhood heart. If I pick a favoirte, one of them might come after me. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  8. JB, I'll tell you the same thing I told Patrick on an e-mail (he showed it to you, didn't he? Didn't he? PATRICK!!! ;-P).

    If you love classic Universal B&W "Frankenstein" (and you do JB) you have to see 1973's "The Spirit of the Beehive" (available on Criterion DVD) which, at worst, will bore you with its pace/narrative. Whale's "Frankenstein" plays an integral part of the story but the movie's not a horror flick or about "Frankenstein." I'd rather not spoil it but, as an avid classic horror movie watcher, JB, I can't recommend you "The Spirit of the Beehive" highly enough to see it pay homage to Whale's classic movie in a very unique way. You'll thank me later.

    My favorite movie "monster"? I'm with Darren Reid, "Brundlefly" all the way but more because of the 'Brundle' side than the 'fly' side. Damn it, thinking about the flick is making me want to see it tonight instead of the presidential debate. And, if you haven't yet, see the bonus features on "The Fly" Blu-ray/DVD. The deleted scenes in the documentary show how worse 'Brundlefly' could have ended up as a character if Cronenberg hadn't edited judiciously around the deleted footage to keep the character both grounded and as human as possible. It's fascinating stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  9. No love for the Creature From the Black Lagoon? If you loved Jason Voorhees smacking a tree with someone in a sleeping bag you'll plotz when you see the Creature curve ball a random teen into a palm in Revenge of...

    But I can't accept Silver Bullet as the fourth best werewolf movie. Frankenstein vs. The Wolf Man, Werewolf of London, Hammer's The Curse of the Werewolf, the DelToro/Hopkins version? How about The Beast Must Die - at least it's fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You don't have to accept Silver Bullet as the fourth best werewolf movie. I know not everyone likes that movie as much as I do. But I stand by the choice, because, while I love Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, it's not exactly a werewolf movie. Werewolf of London isn't great (Henry Hull is a bit of a douche). Not a fan of The Wolfman (2010) and Curse of the Werewolf doesn't even feature a werewolf until the last couple of minutes. So I'm back to Silver Bullet.

      Delete
  10. Yes, I almost picked the Creature. Proof of my Creature love? The life-size Sudeshow Toys bust of the Creature in my office and the Creature from the Black Lagoon pinball machine in my living room.

    Gurgle gurgle splash.

    ReplyDelete