There are many types…Some that are monstrous on the outside, and others that are more so on the inside. They are all horrifying, scary, and gut wrenching. Each in their own way has a means of reaching into our souls, into our darkest fears and fantasies, and making us keep the lights on.
Sadly, many of our classic creatures of horror have lost their edge. They’ve been repurposed, repackaged, and have lost the edge that made them the reason that we stayed up all night. Vampires have become sexy, Frankenstein’s monster is used more for laughs, and Werewolves….yeah. They’re sexy too.
So, for today’s feature I give you all two modern monster flicks that will remind you why we call them MONSTERS.
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. Yes, this movie is in Spanish and has subtitles. If that’s your reason for not having seen this, either myself or another Promethean from the site will find you and punch you in the face.
Guillermo Del Toro, known for Hellboy and most recently Pacific Rim, wrote and directed this film; which had been a passion project of his for a while. Del Toro has always had a distinct visual flare that comes through in his creations. So, even in the most mundane of stories, he has a way of bringing out a more macabre edge.
This is fantastic flick set during the Spanish Civil War. A young girl and her mother move in with one of Franco’s generals in the hills, and the movie follows the daughter as she sees the horrors of the real world juxtaposed with the more fantastic creatures she sees.
I don’t want to get into the specifics of the story or some of the more magical elements, but despite the tame synopsis given above, there is a reason it’s a monster movie. In this case, the monsters are both creature and man.
Death totals remain debated. Antony Beevor writes in his history of the Civil War that Franco’s ensuing ‘white terror’ resulted in the deaths of 200,000 people and that the ‘red terror’ killed 38,000. Julius Ruiz contends that, “Although the figures remain disputed, a minimum of 37,843 executions were carried out in the Republican zone with a maximum of 150,000 executions (including 50,000 after the war) in Nationalist Spain.”
So, as the young girl sees her world going into flames around her, she escapes into a world where she sees this guy…
Like I said…monster movie.
Nonetheless, let’s move onto a more light hearted affair…for a horror flick.
Cabin in the Woods
I’m going to be frank about this; I am going to tell you as little as I can about this one, and you’re going to need to take me on faith. The pure joy of this film comes from seeing it with fresh eyes, and I would be doing a disservice to you if I mentioned anything beyond the basic premise.
Joss Whedon cowrote and produced this film with Drew Goddard who directed the piece. Both had worked on Buffy and Angel and wrote the script in three days. The idea was they wanted to subvert the horror/monster movie genre and turn it on its head.
The premise is that some kids go to a cabin in the woods and like any horror cliche should, bad things start to happen to them. The twist is, from the first five minutes of the movie, the whole thing is being watched by some well dressed men in a control room. Who they are and what the kids go through is the main thrust of the movie.
This is a wonderful, modern take on the slasher/monster movie sub-genre of horror films. It is both simultaneously funny and terrifying. It will make you rethink every single monster movie, horror film, you have ever seen, and keep you up all night.
Yes, there are monsters in this movie. Like this guy…
No, I won’t tell you why, but they are there. If Pan’s Labyrinth is the serious take on the genre, Cabin in the Woods is the polar opposite. It is one of the few movies in the genre that can be considered a game changer in many respects.
So, with those two films I hope to remind you that monsters can still be scary, that they can still frighten us. Monsters are not there to be french kissed or crushed on. They exist to make us cry like little children and force us to rethink not using our old night lights. With that in mind, I bid you all adieu…
…also, this is the REAL Teen Wolf.
Happy Halloween, Everyone.