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The Monster Movie Genre – It’s Aliiiiive!

Well, if Hollywood is going to aggressively continue its campaign of remakes in a 3D era, I suppose there are worse genres to resurrect than the old “Universal Monster Movie” horror sub-genre. We really should have seen this coming with the impending release of The Wolf Man later in the year, but there are confirmed remakes of The Bride of Frankenstein and The Creature from the Black Lagoon in the works. It seems that Hollywood is as keen to cannibalise its trashy glories as it is to remake its celluloid classics.

Something fishy's going on...

Something fishy's going on...

That’s not to diminish the horror monster movie genre in anyway. The Bride of Frankenstein is rightly considered a classic (and a high watermark in a relatively harmless exploitation genre), but most of the films it was surrounded by? Less so. My favourite monster movie ideas (and prime candidates for a do-over if this trend continues) are Them, a story about giant radioactive ants (and one of the first movie to explore the fear of the nuclear age, if in a cartoony way, as I recall) and Night of the Lepus, concerning a giant killer rabbit. You read that right. It played at the Irish Film Institute early this year and is just… ridiculous. It’s literally a rabbit rampaging through a poorly constructed cardboard model of a town at times.

Hell, with BBC giving Day of the Triffids a bit of a makeover, maybe the monster is back in vogue. Human-eating plant monsters, the Triffids are iconic even to those who have never read the book or seen the dodgy film or slightly better miniseries. The modern era of 3D film making may suit the genre well, and advances in makeup and CGI might remove one of the biggest failings of the original (that the monsters don’t look quite so monstrous). The other “failings” – poor plotting, dodgy dialogue and ridiculously bad acting are kind of charming. Very few of these films took themselves entirely seriously, which helped those enjoying them to overlook the flaws.

I love it when you wear your hair like that...

I love it when you wear your hair like that...

I may be misjudging the intended resurrection. Perhaps these movies will be altogether more serious affairs – like the very mixed results Hollywood received in the nineties resurrecting Gary Oldman as Dracula, Jack Nicholson as the Wolfman and Robert deNiro as Frankenstein’s monster – which attempted to lay up the pathos of their leads. Of course Dracula and Frankenstein are based off more mature classical books (both very good reads, if you’re interested), so there is somewhat more of an intellectual nature present there (though not too much – don’t think too hard about how the monster learns to speak English so well and verbosely from eavesdropping on a bunch of peasants) than in, say, giant radioactive ants. And some of this pathose was touched on (barely) in the early monster films – my grandad used to recount how Boris Karloff’s monster accidentally drowned a young child while trying to help her find her ball (he couldn’t comprehend that she couldn’t breath under water).

Well, at least it seem Hollywood will be looking at top notch productions – Oscar-winner Benecio del Toro is The Wolf Man (he is very hairy), and rumour has it they’re chasing Anne Hathaway or Scarlett Johansson for Bride – and I think the movies could really work well in 3D. I’m not expecting masterpieces, by any means, just fun diversionary romps. I’ll concede that I am usually rather venomous towards Hollywood’s tendancy to simply remake and repackage, so why am I almost excited at this prospect? Well, because at least these horrors are better than the simple straightforward slashers that Hollywood’s been churning out by the bucketful since Halloween became a hit. Sure, I’d be more excited about a slate of originally chillers from established directors, but beggers can’t be choosers. I’ll wait to see how the execution comes off, but The Wolfman has fast become one of my most anticipated films of this year – not just because of the premise, but also as a proof of concept.


The Wolf Man is directed by Joe Johnson (Jurassic Park III, Captain America: The First Avenger) and stars Benecio del Toro (Traffic, Che) as the titular man/thing, with support from Hugo Weaving (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix) and Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, Fracture). It is scheduled for simultaneous release around the world on 6th November 2009.

The Bride of Frankenstein is in production with director Neil Burger (The Illusionist, The Lucky Ones) rumoured to be attached.

4 Responses

  1. […] something… on… the wing!”), and a gremlin movie could fit will with the reemergence of the creature feature. Of course, no one could top Shatner in the […]

  2. […] was also a month of revivals, with Universal resurrecting the Bride of Frankenstein and The Creature From The Black Lagoon to compliment The Wolfman being released later this year. Kyle MacLachlin is also attempting to […]

  3. […] Review: Dorian Gray Posted on September 10, 2009 by Darren I thought that monster remake mania wasn’t kicking off until The Wolfman finally gets released? This Oscar Wilde adaptation is an […]

  4. […] The twice pushed-back release date isn’t filling me with confidence for this kick-start to the monster movie genre either. Still, one aspect of the film intrigues me, amid all the forest scenery, interesting […]

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