Horrorfest 2013 Presents: The Blob (1988, Chuck Russell)

In the 1980s there were a surprisingly high number of quality remakes: John Carpenter’s The Thing, David Cronenberg’s The Fly, and Chuck Russell’s The Blob. The Blob was a sharp contrast to its 1950s original, a cheesy sci-fi/horror movie that launched the career of Steve McQueen. In the original the government aids the town in fighting the alien menace, showing that government could be helpful and protective. By the 1980s the government was seen as the problem, and not just because of Reagan America: Watergate, the Vietnam War and the Kennedy murders had soured the American public’s opinion of their public officials. The military that once helped the people in the old film now posed a big threat in the 1980s remake, choosing to cover up the deaths caused by a monster from beyond.

The creature effects are pretty good in this movie too, and of course the death toll gets drastically upped as well. When the Blob gets you it horribly eats you in the grossest, nastiest way possible. This is creepy and ups the tension, adding to the film’s modern take on sci-fi and horror. One of my favorite parts is when a pair of kids become trapped down in the sewers as they attempt to flee from the Blob. For some reason kids being put in serious and terrifying danger has been a staple of modern horror, although in older films such as Night of the Hunter children being threatened was prominent as well. I’m also reminded of Jurassic Park’s kitchen scene, with the dreaded raptors hunting the two kids as they desperately tried to avoid becoming lunch.

Although at times the movie is really cheesy, I still like the film’s cast and how the movie plays out. Its an entertaining thrill ride, a dated 80s movie where Kevin Dillion’s street tough motor bike riding outcast is the hero and Shawnee Smith is the pretty heroine in distress who proves more to be more than just that. I loved the ending despite it being the type of ending that we see in horror movies these days, and how they defeat the Blob is just as great as it was in the 1950s original. We need more good, solid horror remakes like this (or great horror remakes such as The Thing and The Fly), ones that build upon the original and do something different, offering up their own twist on previous material. I would rather have those than another bland sequel.

Top 20 Horror Films of the 2000s Presents: Monsters (2010)

5.    Monsters (2010, Gareth Edward)

As much a love story as it is a monster movie, Monsters is a tender and moving film, one that is a classic journey story with a twist: a photojournalist and the woman he has been hired to bring back to the states are forced to trek through a Mexican wilderness populated by aliens. Creatures that descended from the sky a couple years prior, taking over the country and forcing the government to enact quarantine areas in an attempt to contain a menace they do not understand.

Andrew and Samantha are two different people, and and such do not get along. She doesn’t understand his job, he likes her but cannot seem to connect with her on any level. The fact that this film was made on a low budget is rather impressive, and that rests not only on the freaky looking aliens but also the two leads, who help carry the movie and give you enough reason to care about them. All great or good monster films rest on that concept, the idea that people are experiencing an unreal nightmare and are forced to deal with that nightmare: that a beast from who knows where has invaded their lives, impacting their ability to survive.

Plus I loved the shots of the Mexican countryside: the beauty of nature juxtaposed with the often constant danger of the aliens, the slowly growing connection between Sam and Andrew, the realization from both that maybe their lives could have greater meaning. Monsters is actually frightening at times, particularly during a night scene with a creature attack straight out of Jurassic Park, and that underlying thought of danger potentially happening is a running theme of the film. I’m glad that the young budding filmmaker Gareth Edwards is directing the new Godzilla film, because he has a clear eye for visuals and has already displayed that he can create a wonderful and yet sad experience in Monsters that left me wanting more.

Favorite Authors

Lately I’ve been thinking about the novelists that I’ve been a huge fan of over the years. Some of my favorites would include:

*Ray Bradbury. He gave us Fahrenheit 451, one of my all time favorite novels, and The Martian Chronicles, which is an amazing book. Among other famous books and short stories. I love that he wrote fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, and that he lived a long and rich life. I love that Bradbury was a huge proponent not just of people reading, but also of people thinking and using their minds.

*Arthur C. Clarke, a man who was much a visionary as he was a fantastic sci-fi writer. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic, and I liked the sequel to it as well. Plus one of his short story collections, of which I have read. Sadly I’m still waiting for mankind to journey to Saturn and Jupiter, reaching beyond the stars.

*Ernest Hemmingway, who gave us The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises, Farewell To Arms, and others. I love his tough, tense prose and how his characters bear external and internal scars. There is a rough poetry to his work, and he lived as much as he wrote.

*Michael Crichton, a man that married sci-fi with entertainment and was responsible for many blockbuster style books. Jurassic Park is one of my favorites, and I like The Lost World, Congo, and a couple others. He was taken from us too soon, and just when the 21st century was getting started.

*Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a man responsible for Sherlock Holmes but also The Lost World, a huge favorite novel of mine. I love how he gave us one of the all time greatest characters in Holmes who along with Watson solved crimes using his great intellect and keen sense of observation.

*Stephen King, who needs no introduction. The Dark Tower series is legendary, as is his horror tales. ‘Salem’s Lot and Carrie are classics, and The Stand is an epic and magnificent sprawling tale about the battle for mankind after the end of civilization. I’m glad that he is still alive and writing, as he survived being run over by a car sometime ago.

There are a couple others that don’t come to mind currently, but this list will do for now.

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