Creature Features...Horror Flicks …..you either enjoy them or you don't.
Like millions of others, I am one of those folks who does....occasionally and I wanted to address two films that literally changed how I thought about creature features and or creature books.
So, I heard from my Son yesterday that Stephen King's “It” is coming back to a town near you in 2015.
Being a long time Stephen King fan, I read the book when it came out and immediately, at hearing the news that “It” is returning for a remake, every nuance of that story came back to me and once again I found myself thinking: “Poor little Georgie Denborough!”
Stephen King's character “Georgie Denborough” meets Pennywise the clown and suffice it to say, it doesn't bode well for him after that.
Yet "It" is a brilliantly written book that I could barely stand to put down.... but I couldn't deny the rising creep factor that was being generated as I eagerly turned those pages.
Quite frankly, “It” scared the bejeebers out of me!
Funny thing, I never thought much about clowns or was creeped out by them, until after I read that book.
When the first movie based on the book came out, for some reason I thought it would be a bit less thought intensive, but I was wrong. The movie only served to put those images I'd imagined in my own mind into giant moving pictures.
I still read Stephen King, after all, he is a master storyteller and I enjoy his stories immensely, scary or unsettling as they may be.
(Incidentally, my favorite of all his novels is “The Stand.” which I highly recommend if you're looking for something incredible to add to your summer reading this year.)
Before “It,” I never thought of creature features or creature books as being particularly scary.
I grew up with the usual suspects for “scary” movie fare; Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolf Man.
So my experience with movie monsters had created a rather benign atmosphere, in which I could watch and enjoy this kind of movie and still sleep at night.
The “Frankenstein Monster” evoked only compassion in me for the agonizing tragedy of a counterfeit life that a mad scientist had forced upon that poor, hapless creature.
Compassion was stirred again with Curt Siodmak's “The Wolf Man.”
Here is the story of a man whom, through no fault of his own, is bitten by a Werewolf and in one single bite, he is cursed to go from aristocrat to vagabond while desperately searching for some way out of his horrible situation. For Siodmak's character “Lawrence Talbot/The Wolf Man” it was a long, heartbreaking and arduous search.
How could I feel fear from these poor creatures when I pitied them so?
Vampire movies in particular helped to foster this benign atmosphere of mine, rendering them to nothing more than a forbidden, yet romantic kind of tragic love story.
In all the vampire movies I had ever seen or books I'd read before, there was always that chameleon-like quality the vampires brought with them as these creatures were all deftly written to “play up” this characteristic like a fine violin.
They were always good looking, displaying impeccable taste and manners, inescapably charming and possessed of a silky smooth way of speaking. Everything about these creature/characters was crafted specifically to draw the viewer or the reader into the story of mystery and forbidden romance.
These creatures could dance the night away at the Ball and charm every woman in the room, while, no one was the wiser, that there was a vicious monster in their midst, hiding behind that richly adorned facade.
Yes and for me I was drawn in, hook, line and sinker time after time... that is.... until someone decided to create vampiric creature/characters, except that these vampires would be utterly devoid of any of those “attributes.”
When the movie "30 Days of Night" came out, I read the reviews thinking, how fascinating the scenario sounded.
It takes place in small town in Alaska where, when the sun goes down, it stays down for thirty days and I thought, "Ok open playing field between vamps and humans probably not much of a contest but it should be “standard entertainment fare."
A... No!....It- was- not!
The vampires in “30 Days Of Night,” were nothing at all like any I had ever seen or read before.
They were at once savage, fierce, terrifying to look at, impossibly fast, feelingless monsters without anything remotely human extant inside them.
Everything from the way they looked to the things they did went horrifically against the grain.
As a writer, I have to say the script for this film was ingenious.
The battle the characters waged against the vampires in this movie generated a near hopeless fear that came suddenly with an all out refusal to abate, throughout the entirety of the movie.
As far as I am concerned, the makers of this movie scored big in that they accomplished with their version of the vampire, exactly what they set out to do.
In truth if “30 Days of Night” was meant to terrify? All I can say is: “Mission, accomplished.”
As a writer I say; “Bravo! Great writing!”
Yet as a patron of this genre, I discovered that the creepy elements of both films: “It” and “30 Days Of Night” where difficult to shake off and had the undesired effect of sticking with me for a long time afterward.
It is important to mention here that while I choose my books and movies more carefully these days, it is certainly not my intention to discourage people from watching creature features, after all, art is art and creature features definitely fall under that category.
I must admit though that like millions of other people do that while I like a good creature feature now and again, I like to be able to leave the monsters at the theater when I go home.