Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Cinemaniacal: Monstrous Thoughts About Monsters

In the week leading up to Halloween I decided to dust off some DVDs of old horror movies from Hammer Films, mostly a set of four of their Dracula movies, and I started to think about a trend, or trends, when it comes to monster that I don't really care for.

1. ROMANTICIZE: This is where they take classic movie monsters like vampires and werewolves and turn them from bloodthirsty creatures of the night out to feast upon your flesh and/or blood, into neutered soapy broody emo-brats to appeal to teenage girls.

The Twilight films were the most obvious and worst offenders of this. Essentially the whole series is based on the notion that a girl can change a homicidal predator if she loves him enough. Then there's the whole choice between necrophilia and bestiality storyline when she wavered between bloodsucking vampire boy, and flesh eating werewolf boy.  

Wonderful themes to build your franchise on.

2. CARTOONIZE: This is the temptation to go overboard with just about everything associated with classic movie monsters.  I'm talking big budgets, big stars, lots of fancy pants special effects, big monster battle scenes, and lots of super-slick martial arts fighting with a variety of exotic weapons done by heroes who are more than a match for any monster that comes their way because they are some sort of "chosen-one" monster fighter.  The most obvious example is the movie Van Helsing.

I'm not saying that these trends are necessarily bad things.  However, while they did seem new and novel when they were first done, they have since become very predictable cliches. Also Hollywood seems unable to properly market a more straightforward "scary monster" movie without trying to either mold it into one of the two aforementioned cliches, or at least trying to market it as such.

That's what I think, what do you think?


  1. The decline of the monster movie is yet another example of Hollywood forgetting how to do what they once did without even thinking (see also Action Adventure, Western, War, actually funny Romantic Comedy, genres, etc.)


  2. I hate the whole romanticizing the monster trend. It not only gives the entirely wrong ideas to young girls about what relationships are all about, it trivializes the monsters.

    The trend has a couple of 'fathers' or 'mothers' first was Ann Rice and her Vampire novels that made the vampires into metrosexual flamers prancing around practically writing slash fiction.

    Second was 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. I know that Whedon is a genius and all but his show was a parody to begin with. By the end of the run it was a parody of itself with self-references to 'Scooby-Doo' and the gang.

    Buffy made all things monsterish, cartoonish and campy and those that were not ramped up the sexual tension to '11'. Buffy also combined the worst of the 'invincible monster slayer' with the 'girl power' invincible female (which incidentally trivializes physical violence and discourtesy towards women).

    Those two parents have given us things like 'Twilight', 'Van Helsing' 'Underworld' etc.

    Heroes need to be fallible, you need to have sense at least that the heroes could be in danger or it is simply a super-hero movie with black leather and gloomy sets instead of capes and tights.

    Also, the death of true evil has doomed the true supernatural horror movie in the West. Because society no longer acknowledges true evil unless it is Mel Gibson, none of the monsters are soul deep threats.

    If Heaven and Hell are simply 'separate but equal', there is really no existential threat, just choices between one equally valid form of existence and another.