Sunday, October 30, 2011

Monster Movies to Check Out

I was going to make a Halloween blog post about the scariest movies I've seen, but all my favorite blogs have already done that. Besides, I haven't seen many classic slasher movies, so I might not be the best person to list scary movies. Instead, here are what I consider personal favorite interpretations of movie monsters. Some are scary, some are funny, some are just plain bizarre- maybe you'll find something among them!


The fashions may not have aged well, but The Lost Boys is still one of my all-time favorite movies. Love the vampires (nasty and stylish,) love the slayers (tiny and nerdy,) love the music (especially the main theme.) I've seen this movie too many times for it to still scare me, but I did my share of screaming the first time around, and it's fun and witty enough to keep me coming back every time.


This movie isn't for everyone- it's more art house than proper horror, and the feminist fairy tale motif is layered on pretty thick. If that doesn't scare you off, though, track down a copy of this Red Riding Hood update, and enjoy a sensual, surreal nightmare of a movie. It's based on the work of Angela Carter (a writer I love,) and boasts the only werewolf transformation sequence to really send chills down my spine.

The Frankenstein Monster

The original Karloff movies are great, and I even like the Kenneth Branagh version, but Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks made what must be, in spirit, the truest movie to the original novel. The monster is lonely and frightened and desperate for love, and in this generation, he finally gets a Frankenstein who won't abandon him. It plays fair with monster movie tropes, and despite being a parody, it really feels like it could have been part of the Universal Studios Frankenstein series. And lest I forget, it's really, really funny.


Oh man, does this movie do a number on me. Guilliermo del Toro knows how to do beautiful, insidiously creepy ghost stories, terrifying me with nothing more than a child's laugh. The Orphanage also features surprisingly reasonable protagonists for a horror movie (my boyfriend and I cheered when the heroine actually- gasp!- called the police after finding evidence of foul play buried in the house.)


When filmmakers try to make "romantic" Dracula adaptations, what they're actually doing is remaking this. An ancient monster rises from the grave to seek his reincarnated love, but in a welcome change of pace, she objects- she has a new life now, and he has no right to take it from her. The movie is sadly lacking in actual mummy action, but the first scene still stands as one of the all-time classic monster movie moments.


Are they communists? Are they McCarthyists? Does it matter? Either way, the town of Santa Mira is being invaded by conformist aliens, and the increasingly futile struggle to escape is scary no matter what your political bent. They don't eat you or kidnap you, they just copy you and take away your personality- and sometimes, that's all aliens need to do to be frightening.


I'm technically cheating here (the violent, mindless hordes in Pontypool aren't reanimated dead,) but I wanted to be able to plug this movie. I'm not usually a fan of zombie movies in general, but Pontypool takes the concept and twists it into something terrifyingly original. The very words we speak begin to get caught in our throats and drive us mad, and only a tiny Canadian radio station is safe- but for how long?

Bonus: Grab Bag

Silly, bloody and self-aware, this anthology film depicts the monsters faced in a small town on Halloween night. We've got ghosts, werewolves, pseudo-vampires, serial killers, and an adorably creepy child who might just be the spirit of ancient Samhain. If you can't make your mind up which monster you want to see the Halloween, put on this cult comedy-slasher and get 'em all in one package.


  1. Wow, The Company of Wolves looks fantastic. Thanks!

    For the "Grab Bag" entry, I might also suggest the all-time 80s Goonies ripoff, Monster Squad. "Wolfman's got nards!"

  2. I feel like I saw some of Monster Squad on tv once, but don't remember it well. I'll have to look into it.