Hauro deserves a deep bow from this lifelong moster-movie fan.
According to us hardcores, there are three levels of Old Tech Monsters:
Worst: Lizards and frogs with shit glued onto them.
Meh: Guys in suits, no matter how nifty the suit (James Arness, as “The Thing From Another World” was the best, except I keeping seeing it wearing a cowboy hat since I found out who it was.)
Best: “Dynamation” and its relatives — this required serious art and craft and the payoff could be superb. If you haven’t seen “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad,” what are you waiting for?
I saw Night of the Living Dead when it was new and it scared the doo-doo out of me. Hard to imagine this was the first horror movie that wasn’t just creepy or thrilling, but brutal, assaultive, with a rough-newsreel quality that made it feel like a documentary. Plus a horrific, downbeat ending. But my favorite part of the film, which let me know I was crossing into a fresh circle of Hell, is the beginning. There’s no explanation, no setup, no warning when this horrifying guy just appears from behind a tombstone and starts to menace and then WHAM! the brother is killed — a guy you probably expected to be the hero. And then of course we get the modern trapped-in-a-scary-house theme. Fascinating that the film was such an enduring influence that it’s transformed the meaning of “zombie” until almost no one you ask could cite the original Caribbean possessed-person definition.
(Plus, he died listening to Bing Crosby, a pretty up-there choice, I say.)
[PS: Because I have been asked, yes, the Fela Kuti “Zombie” does refer to the original definition. In a very potent way.]
The connection to Melville is spot on target. Mord and even Borne him/her/itself are clear descendants of Moby Dick even if in no way derivative. Much more accurate than the Lovecraft comparisons. After all, Melville was somebody who had dribbled the salt from his body into the salt of the ocean and knew nature. Lovecraft was more like a strange kid who secreted himself in the basement and yelled for you to come down and kill a spider for him. Also — gives climate catastrophe the key role in the story it deserves. Bizarrely all but passed over in some other reviews I’ve read.
Hmmmmm. Writer/director/producer Jordan Peele got his breakout on MADtv. MAD magazine took off when the line of EC horror comics was effectively censored. Get Out is perfect as a no-holds-barred current combo of EC and MAD on screen. Something has come full circle. Whoo-hooo-haa-HAAAH!
The ghost of William Gains has opened one of the most expensive bottles in his otherworldly wine cellar.
Just as quick reminder — all “Alien” themed movies and whatnot, whether they like/admit it or not, derive from two 1939 stories by A. E. Van Vogt — “The Black Destroyer” (giant catlike monster plays dumb and harmless, is taken aboard spaceship, proceeds to start dining) and “Discord in Scarlet” (bizarre, shape-shifting organism plants carnivorous eggs inside space travelers). These were also Van Vogt’s first published stories and they are written with feverish intensity. The humans are no more than stick figures, but the aliens are unforgettable. Both included in the recommended book, Voyage of the Space Beagle.
(Of course it has to be admitted that the year before the Van Vogt stories, John W.Campbell published his masterpiece, “Who Goes There?” — which puts a carnivorous, shape-shifting alien into an isolated polar encampment.)
(Seriously –watch these in sequence and you’ll be gibbering behind the couch more than once.)
“The Galaxy Being” — the initial episode of “The Outer Limits” TV series. So cool that it’s about a monstrous TV transmission — the special effects were beyond belief for the time. Little slow developing.
Videodrome — second generation cool master of horror turns up the rising static.
The Ring — in many ways the updated culmination of “The Galaxy Being” in that horror had made the great leaps forward rather than sci-fi. Anyway, by far the most purely frightening of these. Took me three tries to make myself watch all of all the scenes. Plus, do not miss the original Japanese movie Ringu — absolutely as good as the English remake and absolutely complimentary. Bound to inspire a few fascinating cultural-contrast discussions. (What I’ve read of the source novel reveals it’s a snoozer with the prime contribution being the central conceit of the cursed videotape.)
[Interesting that these three appeared almost exactly 20 years apart.]