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Thursday, October 16, 2014

GeekRex Horror Essentials: Monster Movies

Halloween is fast approaching, and the mood for horror movies has been struck. If you're looking for something scary to watch, look no further: all month we'll be giving our list of essentials horror movies in a given subgenre! First up: Monster Movies!

Kyle's Pick

Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Directed by George Romero

"They're coming to get you, Barbara!" Something about Night of the Living Dead has always haunted me. Maybe it's the immediacy of the threat, these zombies basically one step removed from humanity, or perhaps its the "almost so amateur, it feels real" performances from the cast, trapped in that abandoned rural Pennsylvania home. It's likely a combination of both, along with the fact that George Romero's work has never been better than he was here. Dawn of the Dead aimed for social commentary, but its predecessor was made for sheer terror, and it terrifies me to this day. Even the closing credits make me want to hide my head under the covers!

Hannah's Pick
Pan's Labyrinth
Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Monster movies have never really been my thing, so I initially struggled with this category (or, more specifically, every "monster" movie I could think of was quickly shot down as an alien/sci-fi movie). It didn't even initially occur to me that I could use Pan's Labryinth, even though it has some very creepy monsters and frightening moments, because the movie has such depth and versatility that I rarely think of it as a genre film. It's hard to think of another movie that replicates the feeling of this film, and so for the way it both qualifies as a monster movie but isn't defined by it, this gets my #1 pick. 

Alexander's Pick
Godzilla (1954)
Directed by Ishirō Honda

Sixty years later, and the giant monster movie still has never done better - or been scarier. Honda's Godzilla is a genuinely menacing film, far from the campy action that would follow for decades, one that closely follows, at least for its first half, the rhythms of a disaster film. It's impossible to look at the series the same way after seeing a mother assuring her child, as Godzilla approaches, that everything will be okay, that they'll be with daddy soon. Godzilla is the ultimate in 'Freddy Krueger syndrome' - a villain so iconic you want to root for him - but there's none of that in 1954's Godzilla.

Shane's Pick
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Directed by Drew Goddard

While trying my hardest to think of a monster movie to go in this pick, I decided to just say to hell with it and pick ALL the monsters!  If for some ungodly reason you have not seen Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon's The Cabin in the Woods, then move it to the top of your Halloween movie viewing pile for this year.  Not only does the film turn the horror genre on its head, but it is quite possible the greatest horror film of the past 20 years.

Harper's Pick
American Werewolf in London (1981)
Directed by John Landis

Both very scary and extremely funny, this is a classic any way you look at it. If a rotting corpse Griffin Dunne yukking it up doesn't do it for you, the legendarily incredible transformation scene by practical effects master Rick Baker will turn you into a lifelong fan. 
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