Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Horror Genre: Creature Features

Every so often I'll set myself a huuuuuuge task, then wonder why I did it. This Horror Genre Breakdown is going to be my War & Peace. But like Nike and Charlie Sheen keep telling us, "just do it." So here we go. Right now. This very second. Wait, I'm going to go get some water first.


Ok. I'm back.

So where were we? Ah yes, Creature Features. This is one of the bigger genres mainly due to its history and
variance in meaning. The original creature features were Universal movies from the 1930s such as Frankenstein and King Kong. They eventually shifted to nuclear and futuristic themed movies such as Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and It Came From Outer Space. Films like these would be broadcast on a Friday or Saturday night and were a mainstay of American culture for quite a while. Films were in your home. You no longer had to go out and search for them. It could also become a private experience if you chose.

What I find particularly interesting about these movies is their throwback quality. They are deeply embedded in the psyche and paranoia of the post-WWII, the Cold War the race to the moon. Looking back now you could say they were a precursor to the horror genre we know and love today. You might never meet the people who are also watching all these movies but through the internet we have a way of making connection we might never have made were it not for blogs. It's all very Back to the Future/ Mobius Strip... but still. Creature Features and the way they were marketed and viewed created some of the foundations for the contemporary horror community.

This is a genre that seems to have died out. The Creature Features of old are fun, yet dated and appeal to a very specific group of people, I think, for their throw-back quality. The more recent Creature features I can think of such as Cloverfield, The Wolfman and Splice fall prey to filmmakers trying to make too much sense of them. By injecting them with too much science they lose what initially drew fans to them. The fantastical and the-over-the-top quality of them does not necessitate realism.

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