Posts Tagged ‘Monster’

Q, The Winged Serpent (1982)

October 31, 2019

I have long been obsessed with the mythological. I grew up feeding on fairytales thanks to Disney and the Brothers Grimm (both apart and together). Except most of what I was exposed to was the usual European fare that most white people in America are exposed to. That all changed in high school when my mythology world was opened up by a surprising source. I was excited about the release of Final Fantasy VIII and so were a lot of other people. I started to watch videos online of spoilers for the game. I was specifically obsessed with the summons in the game. The ability to pull a mythological beast out of thin air was amazing but one of the first summons in the game fascinated me. It was Quetzacoatl, who I learned in my Spanish classes was a hybrid of a snake and a bird and a god to the Aztec people. Aztec drawings had always looked too messy to me but the design that Square-Enix had come up with was beautiful.

I have long loved the combination of mythology and an urban setting. While I am obviously a huge fan of high fantasy, urban fantasy is what I most like to read. Horror is actually really fond of putting this kind of fiction out there. I think the appeal to me is that places I walked or drove by could be secretly hiding a monster or a coven of witches. It also makes monsters and non-human creatures more relatable while still keeping them amazing. The thugs in the alley are secretly trolls, a dragon is hiding in the subway by constantly avoiding the trains, the banks are secretly run by high elves. This was kind of the appeal of the second Predator movie. Instead of taking place somewhere in the woods, it took place in an entirely different ecosystem. Cities team with life the same as the jungle but with more politics and clearer social systems. It is fun to watch monsters interact with those systems.

The first thing I noticed was how much this movie is a blend of genres. This one is a blend of a crime story, a detective story, and a monster horror movie. The movie is, of course, about the afore-mentioned movie which is treated Jaws-Like with only fleeting glimpses. The creature’s impact is seen more than the creature itself which, unless you have dynamite effects, is really the way to go. Of course, eventually the monster has to appear and I really liked the look of it. In the early eighties, you are not going to have anything that looks too beautiful so you have to make some allowances. The monster is mostly depicted Clash of the Titans style and that works for me, especially something with that scale. One thing that really hit me was that I loved the camera work in this movie. There are some really interesting moving shots and angles that really made a lot of the scenes come alive when they could have been more flat. This movie also really has some brilliant shots that triggered my fear of heights.

The movie follows a small-time crook played by Michael Moriarty. I absolutely love the way he is depicted as the absolute opposite of an action hero. He’s flighty, weird, and absolutely anxiety incarnate. He is instantly likable as an oddball outcast. He is giving it his all in a B-Movie and it shows. The movie also follows two detectives played by David Carradine and Richard Roundtree. Carradine is the main focus but both of them get to crack wise and present a lot of the exposition to the viewer. The cast does a really good job of mixing in comedy, focusing on the situation being a ridiculous situation until it is proven correct. Carradine does a good job of grounding the movie while everybody else gets more comedic performances.

Overall, I really loved this movie. It has a lot of charm and it was a nice break from the scarier movies I’ve watched this year. I do not watch a lot of creature features and I had heard good things about this one. It definitely has some strong acting, especially Moriarty who is just giving it everything he has. I like the mix of human crime with monsters that the movie has as well.

The Host (2006)

October 21, 2016

The environment is becoming a bigger and bigger issue these days. As we explore more and more about it, we learn a little bit more and realize that there is still so much to figure out. Especially deep in the water, there are things that are incredibly alien to us. Some of them are as strange and terrifying to us as any extraterrestrial we might meet from space. These creatures do not know anything about direct human contact and it’s easy to see that they would not fear us. Of course, they should be angry at us at this point. Our species has caused untold devastation on the planet’s ecosystem with development and pollution. We have seen the impact we have had on the parts of the oceans we can explore. What have we done to the parts we can’t see? How would these strange alien creatures respond to our chemical compounds? Would we be prepared to deal with that? All of these are scary questions to consider.

One of the scariest things in our human society is the loss of a child or injury to a child. I do not even really like children but hurting a child is an affront to me. I do not forgive those who intentionally hurt children and I cannot abide by that behavior. Maybe it is part of our human instinct to protect the young in order to keep the species alive which is now rather pointless after population explosion. When a baby cries, you just automatically feel bad. Of course, you cannot help it so you get annoyed at the parents for not helping it quicker. It makes little sense but it always happens to me and I have heard similar accounts. We just do not accept bad things happening to children like we accept bad things happening to adults. We are much more likely to turn a blind eye to an adult in peril but a tragedy with a child will stop the world. Because of that, I get extra antsy when there are kids in a horror movie because I do not want anything to happen to them. They have their lives ahead of them and it is unfair for some demon or beast to change that.

Sometimes, I watch things because they are popular. I see it as atoning for my teenage days when I hated everything that was popular out of spite. This movie was number 41 out of 100 of the best horror movies on IMDB.com and it got a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the movie comes out of South Korea so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had not seen any other Korean films (North or South). The acting is very good. For the most part, everybody acts pretty much how people do in real life. I have to give a special shout out to Song Kang-ho who plays the father. He is such a relatable and likable buffoon. His daughter is played by Go Ah-sung and she is such a sweet girl that you want to protect her. There is definitely a comedic spin on the proceedings in places but there is also terror, sadness and desperation as well. A good horror movie makes you laugh here and there so it can scare the bejeezus out of you right when you have let your guard down. This movie does that in spades.

The effects are very good in this one. It has the same CGI team as The Day After Tomorrow which had great special effects even though it was a ludicrously bad film. Of course, the monster effects were done by Weta Workshop so we made it all of two days without mentioning them. At the same time, the monster looks like a lot of things we have seen before but also something interestingly unique. Jon Cox powered the creature with beautiful animatronics on par with any movie monster I have ever seen. When it moves, I really believe that it is a danger and an intelligent creature. The government response was believable as well. In a crisis like the one we see, the government would be mostly clueless but would be quick to do something even if it was the wrong thing. I really liked that element as an additional obstacle for the main characters.

Overall, this was a great horror/science fiction movie. There was plenty of comedy but there was even more tragedy and horror involved which ended up being a very compelling blend. There was also a bit of an adventure quality to the movie as a family sets out to save one of their own. There is definitely some anti-American sentiment in the movie but it is balanced well and not without merit. The US military did dump a lot of formaldehyde down the drain in Seoul. Our country is portrayed as butting in just as we probably would in real life. The South Korean government is also portrayed in a negative light so it is impossible for me to get bent out of shape about it. I definitely recommend this movie, especially to any foreign film buffs.

Shotgun

June 6, 2016

Tres set his shotgun on the bar and reached behind it to grab a bottle while the bartender had stepped into the back. The barback gave him a rude look but he grinned and caressed the shotgun so the guy would keep his mouth shut. It worked, as the bartender came back, Tres slipped out the back door with bottle and shotgun in tow. Nobody chased him immediately so he strolled toward his car and holstered the shotgun so it was a little bit more inconspicuous. He looked down at the bottle and was surprised and pleased to see it was the good stuff. He was going to be in some trouble with the owner later thanks to the camera but Tres could pay for it. Stealing was just a thrill and thrills were to be relished whenever possible.

Tres had given up his name a long time ago. He had been an orphan, fighting on the street and he had been offered the chance to fight for truth, justice and all of that other crap. He had given up his name in exchange for a number and the power to fight anything in the world. Of course, that is when he had found out that there were plenty of things in the world which people did not know about. For centuries there had been all sorts of nasty creatures lurking around that wanted to prey on human beings. Ms. Apple, the woman who had given Tres his abilities, had said that there were a couple different organizations fighting the threats. However, Tres believed his organization was probably the best.

Tres climbed into his car and found that the GPS unit attached to the dash was already working. There was no address on the screen but there were coordinates and, as soon as he turned the car on, the speakers started telling him what to do. All of this hoodoo had been really creepy when he started. He rarely had contact with other agents or his superiors beyond Ms. Apple. It was sort of like being haunted. Some vague, supernatural force was always telling him where to go and when. Of course, they could also be hacking into his GPS but, considering all of the other trappings, it was probably some supernatural effect. Tres really did not care either way but sometimes he pondered it out of curiosity. It was a game and Tres liked games.

Tres tucked the bottle into the door and peeled out of the parking lot, heeding the guidance from the GPS. He had tried to make the thing use a different voice but so far he was stuck with an annoyed British man. He had not realized that a GPS device could get angry but there it was, nearly growling directions at him. The car trailed thick, purple smoke that was a side effect of its cloaking runes. The rune magic allowed Tres to gun the engine so he could race toward his target at nearly a hundred miles per hour. He would have gone faster but the thing had started to shake at 95 so he kept it just below. Cops could not see the car and radar was useless against its smoky magic. People tended to kind of notice it out of the corner of their mind. They would get out of its way but they would not realize why they did it.

Tres eventually rolled up to a shack in the middle of nowhere. The GPS barked at him, telling him that this was the place and it was time to do his job or else. Tres never thought too much about or else. Considering what was at play, ‘or else’ was probably too frightening to consider. So he got out of the car, took a pull from the bottle and licked his lips before capping it and tossing it back into the car. He drew the shotgun from its holster and made his way toward the shack to get this over with. There was only ever one mission he was given and it was always ‘seek and destroy’. He happened to love those orders.

He kicked open the door of the shack, not knowing who or what to expect inside. There was a dreadful silence as he looked around and tried to find something to shoot at so he could back to that bottle. The floorboards creaked but Tres realized that it was not his weight on top of them that made them creak. They were creaking because something was pushing from underneath them. There was a surge of creaking and then cracking and then a massive arm tore through the floor and slammed into Tres’ chest, sending him flying back through the door. He rolled with the punch, doing a backward somersault and keeping a hold of the gun.

The shack started to fall apart as the thing crawled from the wreckage and roared at Tres. This thing might have stayed hidden for months, years or decades but Tres’ runes probably woke it up. It was all for the best. Better Tres than some unwitting tourist with a neat souvenir necklace or something. The thing was twelve feet tall and Tres was not about to let it get its bearings. He opened fire with the shotgun, aiming for its center mass and then the limbs. The first shot barely fazed it and neither did the second, the third shot caught its arm and sent it spinning but it quickly recovered. It was time to bring out the big guns.

Tres stroked the tattoos on his arm and felt the surge of power. The power grew in his arm and then his chest and then all over his body. His skin grew hard and gray as it became stony and armor-like. Cracks formed in that stone skin and underneath it energy could be seen like magma. The power surged into the shotgun and it grew to three times its size. Tres looked for the best spot to hit this thing and saw it turn and look with its one eye. Tres had played enough video games to know what that probably meant and took aim. He gently squeezed the trigger and the shotgun erupted. The fiery projectiles blasted into the thing’s head and out the other side. It collapsed and started to turn into to viscous black fluid. Tres headed back for the bottle.


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