Monster movies or slasher movies? There seems to be only two extremes in most people’s minds when they hear the term Horror.
Personally I love all types of horror but I can only watch so many angst-ridden teens being chased by axe/knife/chainsaw wielding maniacs. Now, some of the ‘maniacs’ like Freddy Krueger and the ever undying Michael Myers or Jason might count as monsters but I tend to think of them as just uber-slashes. The main fear factor of these movies is the chase and how artfully or grossly the hapless victims can be slain.
The birth of the slasher genre is often accredited to Halloween in 1978. but c’mon anyone who has ever looked askance at their shower curtain knows that the slasher genre started in 1960 with Alfred Hitchcock’s, Psycho. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of the genre but it really doesn’t hold a place of love and fuzzy happiness in my heart like monster movies.
I’ve loved my monsters my entire life. I cut my teeth on Saturday morning horror movies when I was a kid in Philadelphia.
The Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are the classics that I think of when I think monster movie.
You can also lump in Godzilla, King Kong, Zombies, Vampires (Dracula and the like – but please, not Twilight *shudder*) and of course the Mummy into the monster category.
Notice that I tend to think ‘classic monsters’. Monsters still abound in modern cinema. Who could doubt that Jaws or Cujo were monsters?
Heck you can even make the argument that ghost stories are monster tales with the spectral creature acting as monster. My wife is terrified by the rage spirit in Ju-on and I quite agree that she’s very unsettling.
Some monsters are just a fun romp. Pacific Rim, while not a great movie was a great monster romp. Not at all scary but fun. Most giant monsters tend to be less scary than plain old exciting to watch. Try to tell me you don’t want to stomp through a miniature Tokyo in a Godzilla costume.
When well done, monsters can be terrifying. When I saw Alien back in 1979 it was sci-fi blended with gothic horror and it was terrifying. Jaws prompted every kid in my high school to run out and catch and kill sharks – for revenge.
Classic monsters like Dracula and the Mummy are perfect examples of monsters who can be brooding and build tension and terror in the viewer. I think monster movies should build tension and dread before slapping you in the face with the scary monster. You should be worried about every shadow the hero passes, every creak in the haunted house. When that monster finally appears you should have such a dire image in your head that it takes all your will power to peek between your fingers to see just how horrid it really is. Slashers can’t do that in my book, they just have you on edge waiting for the jump scare when they pop out and stab/bludgeon/choke/etc. someone.
I think in future posts I’m going to visit some of my favorite monsters and figure out why they intrigue me and why they should intrigue you.
So, what do you think? Monsters or Slashers? Both? Neither? I would love to hear your comments as to what you consider the best horror material