Monster. The word conjures a multitude of horrors. The original Latin word, monstrum, could also refer to portent or warning. Perhaps that is what they are.
We use them to drive home warnings. We have done so throughout history, in song and tale. A classic example would be “Little Red Riding Hood”. We taught our children how to survive in a world where danger lurked under bush and behind tree.
Today we watch films. We are drawn to them. We want to be scared. We want to be warned. Not everything in the dark is dangerous, just as not everything that shines in the light is benevolent. The world of today is grey and populated with monsters. We wear our true skins on the inside in much the same way as the shape-shifters of legend.
Just as our ancestors bound their warnings in fairy-tale and myth, so do we in films and urban legends. Some of us heed their warnings. Some of us do not.
Another meaning of the word can also be a thing that evokes both fear and wonder. That seems quite fitting in many ways too. For those of you that dwell amongst the open-minded, ‘Pinhead’ must evoke some measure of wonder alongside the fear that his appearance would no doubt inspire.
Needless to say, the pool for these films is far larger than that for vampires and ghosts. Some of you will be disappointed that I didn’t put some classics on this list. I’ve seen a lot of great ‘monster’ movies from the old black and white classics to some of the recent creepy releases. I like a lot them even if they don’t appear on the list (just like Bela Lugosi’s Dracula), but the list is about movies I came back to on more than one occasion. Those films I especially enjoyed and, to me at least, embody the idea of the extraordinary, the wondrous, and of course, convey caution.
This list was the hardest in many ways. I left off films like “Re-Animator”, “The Revenge of Frankenstein”, and “The Evil Dead”. There are no ‘slasher’ films here. There is also a lack of ‘Mummy’ movies. Beyond the obvious black and white classics with Karloff, there has been nothing recent that really satisfied. “Talos the Mummy” (1998) is not as bad as a lot of people make it out to be, but it’s not good enough to knock any of the following films off the list.
Most of you that enjoy horror films will have probably seen many of these, but for others that have hesitated to step into the darkened corners of your local movie theatre (or Netflix), then there may be one or two that draws you in…
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
“I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”
American Werewolf in London
“I vote we go back to the Slaughtered Lamb.”
“Yes, and their child will be immortal!” — “Yeah, but there’s a catch. It has to live the rest of its life as some kind of half-ass fish of the sea.”
“Well, then let’s introduce ourselves. I’m Damien Karras.” — “And I’m the Devil. Now kindly undo these straps.”
“It’s nearly 2 A.M. and we’re still sealed in this building that we came to with the firemen earlier this evening, to assist an elderly woman who later attacked a policeman and a fireman. They’re both in critical condition. The police won’t let us leave and are giving us no explanations.”
“The box… you opened it, we came.”
“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is 666.” Book of Revelation Chapter 13 Verse 18”
“Man is the warmest place to hide.”
Night of the Living Dead
“They know we’re in here now.”
“We are now up against live, hostile targets. So, if Little Red Riding Hood should show up with a bazooka and a bad attitude, I expect you to chin the bitch.”
“It has nothing to do with Satan, Mama. It’s me. Me. If I concentrate hard enough, I can move things.”
The Company of Wolves
“Never stray from the path, never eat a windfall apple and never trust a man whose eyebrows meet in the middle.”
3 Extremes (三更2 or 쓰리, 몬스터 or 美しい夜、残酷な朝)
“If I could choose… I’d prefer that I lived… and you died.”
Bonus – Mamá
And finally… just because I couldn’t get it on any of the other lists (since it is only a few minutes long) a Halloween bonus! This one is “Mamá”. No, not the truly dreadful Hollywood version, but original Spanish short, but be aware, those of a nervous disposition may need a pillow (and possibly a fresh pair of underwear). Enjoy…
Now, since this is the third and last of my ‘horror’ movie lists I would like to mention a few of the films that I really wanted to put on the lists, but didn’t. I wanted to keep it to 13 and did… even so, here are se7en that were very, very, close. If you enjoy good films then I urge you to have a look for yourself (I have included links to the trailers). For those that normally steer clear of horror, then at least have a look at “The Host” (Korea) or “Thale” (Norway). Both are very good, with “Thale” being one of my favourites because of the association with Scandinavian folklore. It’s a great tale. The others are: “The Silent House” (Uruguay), “The Unseeable” (Thailand), “Them” (France), “The Descent” (UK), and “Shutter” (Thailand).
Have a delightful Halloween…