First, in honor of Halloween, Double Feature: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies (book 3 in the Russel Middlebrook Series and a Lambda Award winner!) is on sale for $2.99!
And since it is the Halloween season, and since Min Wei (a character of mine from the Russel Middlebrook Series) is revealed to be a monster movie fanatic in that book, I thought I’d list her favorite monster movies of all time and let her give her reasons why:
The Ring (2002): “Okay, the story’s pretty ridiculous: you watch a video tape and seven days later, the phone rings and you die? But the movie plays it totally straight — no ironic asides or meta-references a la Scream. And because the writers and characters take it all so seriously, you do too. Plus, the videotape itself? Genuinely creepy.”
House of Wax (2005): “A very under-rated little thriller starring Supernatural‘s Jared Padalecki and Happy Ending’s Elisha Cuthbert. Movies about waxworks are required to do three things: confuse the audience about who is wax and who is real, kill people using wax in creepy ways, and ultimately show lots of things melting. This movie does all of these things extremely well.”
Jeepers Creepers (2001) “The amazing thing about Jeepers Creepers is that you genuinely have no idea where it’s going. Is it a serial killer movie … or something else? And when the ‘something else’ is finally revealed, it’s totally satisfying and original — and really, really disturbing. Why won’t it die? The movie also has the guts to end the right way.”
Alien/Aliens (1979/1986): “Two movies in the same franchise, but they’re completely different genres: one is horror, one is action-adventure. How interesting is that? If I had to choose, I’d say Aliens is the slightly better film. Aliens isn’t just an action movie with a woman in the lead, a woman who acts exactly like a man: it’s an action movie about women, about a deep-seated conflict between two kick-ass females (Ripley and the Alien queen), both motivated by something even more primal that survival — the desire to protect one’s offspring. Also, check out how Ripley, Hicks, and Newt slowly turn into a family.”
Pitch Black (2000) “A completely under-rated sci-fi masterpiece with a great set-up: a planet with three suns that has perpetual daylight … until it doesn’t. But what makes this movie truly terrific is the fact that none of characters end up being exactly what you think. The guy you think is the hero of the movie? Maybe not so much. The guy you think is the villain? Well, maybe that’s not right either. One of the characters even switches genders! It just goes to show that when it comes to people, nothing is ever black and white.”
Starship Troopers (1997): “A smart movie that confuses stupid viewers. The film pretends to glorify war, violence, and American kick-ass superiority. But in truth, it makes a much more interesting point about the pointlessness of war. Who exactly are the heroes here? You definitely have to read between the lines, but it’s probably not humanity. And check out all the similarities between ‘soldier’ bugs and expendable human grunts. This movie, a precursor to District 9, gets my vote for the most subversive studio film ever made.”
Monsters (2010): “Alien life forms have crashed into Mexico, and the U.S. has built a huge wall quarantining the country (no subtext there, right?). Two Americans are stranded inside the alien district and somehow have to find their way back to the U.S. This indie movie, made on a shoestring budget and sort of ‘quiet’, should have driven me crazy because it was filmed without a script and mostly improvised (all the extras were “real” people going about their business). But the effects, done on home computers, are amazing, and the movie has a real heart.”
The Descent (2005): “Six women go caving, but somewhere along the way, ‘girl power’ turns into ‘girl horror.’ Suddenly, it’s every woman for herself! Another movie set in the dark that also has a very, very dark theme: look how quickly ‘civilized’ humans can be reduced to barbarism. And this is another movie with the guts to end exactly the right way (at least in the U.K. version).”
The Mist (2007): “A lot of people criticize this movie for the bad acting and shoddy special effects. I’m not saying they were intentional, but I see this movie as an homage to the great, but cheap B-movies of the past. Yes, it’s very broad with not much subtext or greater “meaning,” but it’s not a stupid film: the whole thing is clearly building to that deliberately shocking ending, which I just loved.”
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956): “Ever felt like the world has gone completely mad, and fewer and fewer people can see it? I’ll feel that way next week if Mitt Romney is elected president. But that’s also the theme of this movie, which is another one that doesn’t make much sense if you think about it too much: how exactly are those pods recreating human beings? But it doesn’t matter, because the actors and writer take it seriously, so you do too.”
Poltergeist (1982): “Yes, yes, I know, it’s an obvious choice, but it’s still possibly the best ghost story ever filmed — and I say that as not a real big fan of writer, producer, and rumored co-director Steven Spielberg.”
Honorable Mention: “These monster movies all have their flaws, but there’s a lot to love in them too: Cabin in the Woods (2012), Splice (2009), and Deep Blue Sea (1999).”
P.S. Wow, Min has great taste in movies! Her choices are surprisingly similar to my own….