Sunday, July 8, 2012

Top 10 Favorite Movie Monsters

I promised it, and here it is. My top 10 Favorite Movie Monsters. Yeah, I know I said Top 5, but I was having to much fun doing it! Before we get to the list, a few points:

1) I debated long and hard, and finally decided to allow human-like monsters, as long as they were definitively not human-looking.  So make-up jobs are allowed, but simply sticking someone in a William Shatner's mask is not.

2) Similarly, "monster" should be taken literally. Very despicable humans, such as Lecter, don't count.

3) I must have seen the movies. Which means your favorite might not be on there simply because I haven't seen the movie yet. Pinhead looks wicked, but I haven't had the chance to watch Hellraiser yet, so he is not on this list.

And now, the list itself:

10 - The Gremlins (Gremlins, 1984)

My 19th-century history book was right! Mohawks ARE evil savages!
In all probability among the first monsters children are exposed too, those little critters might not be especially strong or menacing, but it takes only a handful of them to destroy an entire small town. Destructive, foul-tempered but so wicked looking, the Gremlins are both nightmarish and a perfect fit for any child's toy box. In addition, all my US readers have Stripe here to thank (in addition to a heart-ripping Thuggee priest) for the invention of the PG-13. 

9- Chucky (Child,s Play, 1988)

And here goes my sleep night

I first saw this pic when I was 4. It took me 15 years to be able to look at it again. And even now, as I am typing this, my heartbeat is getting faster. Chucky terrified me for so long, I still have a flight reflex. 

So, why is the cause of so many sleepless nights not rated higher? Because last year, I finally watched a Chucky movie - Seed of Chucky. And I laughed my ass off. The Chucky puppet is not that scary in motion - the posters make him look much, much more scary than he really is. But in honor of the trauma he caused me, he belongs on this list.

8- The Other Mother (Coraline, 2009) Played by Teri Hatcher

Spider-Mom, Spider-Mom. Does whatever a spider can

If there is one thing children's love, it's their mother. So imagine their reaction when said mother turn into a spider demon - pant-wetting terror. I know, I've seen it. I was a man grown the first time I saw this movie, and I still a got a strong "Do Not Want" feeling. It really is a terrifying design, with mechanical hands, dark button eyes, spider legs, hunched posture and devilish grin.  It's also a design that would only work in stop motion, and you have to give props to a monster which can use the power of its medium to the fullest.

7- The Grand High Witch (The Witches, 1990) 

Madam? I think you have something on your nose.
Angelic Huston always looked like a witch, so it made sense when she got into a relationship with the devil himself, Jack Nicholson. But then, in 1989 they ended that relationship, and then Jack Nicholson became played a scary psychopathic clown. Angelica Huston, not one to be overshadowed by an ex, decided to show everyone that she too could be scary. She won that one, hands down. 

6- Brundlefly (The Fly, 1986)  

Hi, I'm a,a,a fly, yes, a human, a human fly.  Yes.
Who would have thought that by mixing a common, tiny housefly, with your standard issue Jeff Goldblum, you would get a terrifying monstrosity from hell able to dissolve any men to goo in a matter of seconds??!!! 
But what really puts Brundlefly apart from other monsters is its tragedy. Seth Brundle is no mad scientists. He is simply a normal man of science who tried to better the world, and instead became his worst nightmare. Which means that when Brundlefly is killed, you can't help but shed the tears in the middle of two shout of joy

5- The Pale Man (Pan's Labyrinth, 2006)

Hey, Listen! Yes, Navi, I KNOW where to shoot!

Yes, I know the real monster of Pan's Labyrinth is Captain Vidal. But let's face it here, even with a Glasgow smile, no fascist tyrant could make me soil my pants faster than this screaming hellspawn here. Guillermo Del Toro once again offer us a original design that is both terrifying and cool-looking. I pity any young child who got to watch this movie because of the trailers.

4- The Thing (The Thing, 1982)

Spiders have eight legs, not six, you idiot!

Unlike all the others on this list, the Thing is scary because you never know where it is. Yes, the designs of the various variations of the monster are all cutting-edge horror, but the really terrifying thing about the Thing is that you never know where it is going to spring up and in what form. It's a jack-in-a-box of the worst kind ever.

3- Godzilla (Gojira, 1954)

I'm not rampaging, I've just lost my glasses!

Okay, this one doesn't really need a justification. He has had a longer longevity than any of the other monsters on this list. It's instantly recognizable. And the kids simply adore him. All hail the King of Monsters! He's only third place because he helped people as often as he has eaten them, which killed his scary vibe.

2- The Clown (Poltergeist, 1982)

Next to that, the Joker is pretty nice fellow
Poltergeist is pretty unique among Hollywood movies because it shows normal,responsible parents smoking pot. And you know why it shows you that? To explain why the hell they bought this monstrosity to their son, that is why! From the moment it is introduced, you know this thing is gonna become dangerous later on. And then the house is cleaned and the movie seems to be almost finished. And then, this bastard from hell shows up and sends everyone screaming. This monster gained all his terrorizing power from a clever game of build up, red herring and false sense of security.

1- The Xenomorph (Alien, 1979)

Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal
Okay, this one was predictable. I had already decided it was going my number one, and then I asked people at io9 for ideas, and when they all gave me this one as their number one, I knew it had to be there. It's simply one of the scariest creature ever put on film, be it either in facehugger form, as a chestburster, as a grown up killing machine, or as a Queen. Superbly adapted from the paintings of one seriously deranged H.R. Giger, the Nostromo's eight passenger is a terrifying combination of organic, technological and sexual terrors. And it hasn't been one-upped yet.

That is it for this week. Whew, you know what? I think I could have added 5 mores. Ah well, maybe another time. Any choices you are not happy with? Other movies you want to suggest to me? Well, it's your turn to speak now. So, comment away!

P.S. Thanks to the io9 community who suggested monsters: Naradance, MANTARAYS, Omgwtflolbbqbye, Reavyn 29, transitnap, muensonate, acrousey, CatVonAwesome, Dr Emilio Lizardo, Steezy McFresh, Thoitax, Re Hs, Exploriens, Gingerkid87, Zuldim, Quasi Hatrack, Knight_of_Pentacles

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Schedule Update

Okay, so like many, many new Bloggers, I kind of forgot about my blog after starting it. But now I'm back. I'll try to blog more often, once a week being my goal.

For the post about the monsters of Prometheus, I think I bashed Prometheus enough on other sites. That movie really wasn't worth that much effort. Therefore, you will not see a Part 2 of Monsters of Prometheus. I will however, give you my list of 5 best movie monsters as promised.

Also in the work, a short essay about Jurassic Park's Ellie Satler. And maybe a few things about A Song of Ice and Fire.

Until then, keep safe!

Magic Mike's might Dance Magic, but he is no Bowie.

I saw my baby, 
trying hard as babe could try 
What could I do? 
My baby's fun had gone 
And left my baby blue 
Nobody knew 

Replace "baby" by Channing Tatum in the above lyrics, and you have my feelings after leaving Magic Mike. Why the Labyrinth allusion? No reason, only that I can't seem to be able to say the words Magic Mike without intoning the "Dance Magic" melody. That, and I thought David Bowie's crotch would fit right in with all the other boys' below. This, my friends, is my review of Magic Mike. Minor spoilers therein, but nothing about the end or the major plot twists. 

When the hell does he sleep, then?

You know how often critics (me included) will bash a movie for being all style, no substance? Well, Magic Mike is the seldom seen opposite of that: all substance, no style. For a fictional movie about the world of male strippers, it as dry as an academic essay on the subject. This surprises me - after all, Steven Soderbergh is the director behind Ocean's Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen, some of the most fun heist movies ever done. And Eleven is one of those few remakes that manage to be better than the original. But in recent years, Soderbergh seems to prefer a more realistic, subtle style. Which worked wonders for the Contagion, worked okay for Haywire, but doesn't work at all for this movie.

Peacock. Sorry, nothing else comes to mind but Peacock.
And that is really a shame, because Magic Mike had potential. The script is of superior quality. The movie is overlong, but I think this is not the fault of the script - if the dance numbers had been mind-blowing, the pacing would have been perfect.  Middling as they were, they lengthened the movie unnecessarily. The acting is great. Channing Tattum is really better actor then he first appears to be, and he proves it again here. Alex Pettyfer is good in the role of Mike's new recruit and protégé. This is a commonly used narrative device - Ismael to Captain Ahab, Nick Carraway to Jay Gatsby, Watson to Holmes, but it is well- used here. The female lead, Cody Horn, who is an unknown to me, has that girl-next-door charm that perfectly complements and contrasts Tatum's Prom King looks. And Matthew McConaughey is having great fun, and it shows. But the show never really gets off the ground. During the dance numbers, the camera is never close enough or dynamic enough and the music is never loud enough to pull you in. If Magic Mike has the Mike part down, it lacks in Magic. 

Let me put it this way - in one scene, Brooke (Cody Horn)  is at standing alone at back of the bar, watching her young brother (Alex Pettyfer) perform with a cold eye. Well, all throughout in the movie I felt I was next to her at the back of the bar far, from the stage,  instead of next to Magic Mike on the stage or just below the stage, waiting for him to pull me up on it and make me his next dance-pole. Yes, I am a guy, and straight as they come (except for Daniel Craig,) but still, if the movie could have made me feel that, it would have been perfect. And it had the script and the cast to achieve that.  

But Soderberg was not up to the task. This movie would have been better with a director who can bring on the bombast. Someone like Rob Marshall or Bahz Luhrman. Yes, I get that this movie was more interested with exploring what went on behind the scenes, behind the glamour and the body oil. But exploring the darker side of something is not really meaningful if the bright side is only slightly glossy. 

Should you see Magic Mike? Depends - if all you want is beefcake, the movie does keep on giving on that count, and it is certainly cheaper than going to an upper end strip joint like the one portrayed in the movie, (However, this movie is strictly R - a lot of asses, a lot of bare chests, boners seen through tight strings, a pair of breasts or two, but no honest-to-goodness cocks.) But if what you want is a mix of showy spectacle and interesting drama, you better wait until it is on DVD. Unless you're on a date. As a date movie, Magic Mike is a very good choice.

Just make sure you dress better than him.

Oh, and one last thing - while their dance version of It's Raining Men is nowhere as good as the Weather Girls' original (how can it ever be?,) that soundtrack is bitching. I need it. 

Oh God, and now I wanna listen to It's Raining Men nonstop. Curse You, Magic Mike!