CASKETS AND COFFINS – THE MANY FACES OF HORROR – Part 1: MONSTERS


MONSTERS

A Monster Horror Film is one which revolves around innocent civilians and emergency services struggling to stay alive in assaults against giant monsters. The film may also belong to the horror, fantasy or science fiction genre. In most cases it is applied to films that feature oversized monsters. Monster movies originated with adaptations of horror folklore and literature. In Japanese cinema, such monsters are referred to as Kaiju. Typically, movie monsters differ from more traditional antagonists in that many exist due to circumstances beyond their control; their actions not entirely based on choice, potentially making them objects of empathy to film viewers. The monster is created by a folly of mankind – an experiment gone wrong, the effects of radiation or the destruction of habitat. Or usually the monster is from outer space, has been on Earth for a long time with no one ever seeing it, or released (or awakened) from a prison of some sort where it was being held.

Here are 3 Examples of Great Monster Movies:

THEM

THEM (1954)
Directed by: Gordon Douglas
Produced by: David Weisbart
Screenplay by: Ted Sherdeman, Russell Hughes
Story by: George Worthing Yates
Starring: James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn
Joan Weldon, James Arness
Released: June 19, 1954
 
Synopsis From Turner Classic Movies:

“In New Mexico, policemen Ed Blackburn and Sgt. Ben Peterson find a little girl who is stunned and unresponsive, walking through the desert, tightly gripping her damaged doll. Nearby, they find an unoccupied trailer hitched to a car by the side of the road, its metal hull ripped from the inside out. While they investigate, they hear a high-pitched buzz and discover a large, unusual animal footprint on the ground. On their way back to town, the policemen find that a general store has been wrecked and its owner mysteriously killed. Ed stays behind to guard the store, and he, too, is brutally killed after hearing the high-pitched sound. Later, the coroner reports that the storekeeper died from a large injection of formic acid, not from the many fractures on his corpse. Upon learning that the owner of the trailer was a vacationing agent, the FBI sends Robert Graham to investigate. Bob sends a cast of the animal track to the FBI’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, and in response, Department of Agriculture entomologists Dr. Harold Medford and his daughter and fellow scientist Patricia, are flown in. At the hospital, Harold examines the little girl, who remains traumatized and uncommunicative until he uncaps a bottle of formic acid under her nose. Jolted into a panic, she screams “Them! Them!” Although Harold has a frightening theory, he withholds it, until it is later confirmed by the appearance of a nine-foot, insect-like creature at the trailer site. By ordering his companions to shoot at the creature’s antennae, Harold saves the group from its attack and the creature is killed. Harold then explains that it was a descendant of an ant that was present when the atomic bomb was first tested in the desert in 1945, mutated each generation by lingering radiation. With the help of the local Air Force officers, Brig. Gen. O’Brien and Maj. Kibbee, Harold instigates an aerial search of the desert for the creature’s nest. When the nest is found, it is torched and its tunnels gassed with cyanide. Afterward, to determine if all the ants were killed, Bob, Ben and Pat gear up and enter the nest, rappelling through the tunnels hundreds of feet into the earth. After passing many gigantic, dead ants, they reach the queen ant’s nest. Seeing that two eggs have hatched, Pat anxiously orders that everything be burned. Back on the surface, Harold and Pat announce that the problem is not over, as two queens appear to have hatched and escaped before the nest was destroyed, and will now mate and start other nests. Ants have limited flying ability during the mating process, Harold explains, but ants of that size would be able to travel a large distance. In top-secret conferences, the Medfords, Bob, Ben, Kibbee and O’Brien meet with Washington officials. After showing film footage demonstrating the strength, ferocity and mating habits of ants, Harold predicts that humans will be extinct within one year if the queens are not destroyed. Secrecy is maintained to avoid worldwide panic, but news is monitored for unusual sightings and mysterious disappearances or deaths. When ant-shaped flying saucers are reported by Texas ranch foreman Alan Crotty, who is then institutionalized, Bob knows that the man is not insane, but to keep the story from spreading, tells his psychiatrist that the FBI will let him know when his patient is well. Having assumed that, so far, only the American continents are in jeopardy, the Medfords and their colleagues are disturbed by reports that a ship on its way from Mexico to Singapore became infested with giant ants that killed all hands. Shortly after the ship is sunk to kill the queen and her offspring, forty tons of sugar is ripped out of a railroad car in Los Angeles. Thinking that the second queen is the culprit, Harold and his colleagues go there to investigate and learn that a man, who was last seen flying model airplanes with his two sons, died mysteriously and his children are missing. From a hospital room overlooking the Los Angeles River, Jenson, a half-coherent drunk, reports that he saw the family and the giant ants near an opening that leads to 700 miles of tunnels under the metropolis. Martial law is instated and the Army is called in. However, because they believe the children are in the tunnels with the ants, they cannot gas or burn out the creatures. Instead, armed with bazookas and flamethrowers, Ben, Bob and Kibbee ride jeeps into the tunnels with the soldiers. After finding the boys alive in a storm drain, Ben gets them to safety, then is killed by an ant. Later, Bob radios to the waiting Pat and Harold that new queens have not hatched in the egg chamber. He orders the chamber burned and the crisis is over. However, Bob later wonders if more mutations from later tests will be discovered. Harold responds that when man entered the atomic age, he opened a door to a new world and what will eventually be found in that new world no one can predict.”
 

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Trailer:

 
 
Q THE WINGED SERPENT

Q THE WINGED SERPENT(1982)
Directed by: Larry Cohen
Produced by: Larry Cohen
Written by: Larry Cohen
Starring: Michael Moriarty, Candy Clark
David Carradine, Richard Roundtree, James Dixon
Released: October 29, 1982
 
Synopsis From ROTTEN TOMATOES:

“Genre pioneer Larry Cohen, who broke new horror ground with the killer-baby hit It’s Alive!, takes a stab at the giant-monster scenario with this enjoyable low-budget exercise. The title refers to the winged Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, represented here as a dragon-like flying lizard (thanks to some quaint but amusing stop-motion animation from David Allen), who decides to take up residence in the art-deco spire of the Chrysler Building, taking frequent jaunts in the midday sun to nip the heads off various hapless New Yorkers. The resulting bloody mess confounds detectives Shepard (David Carradine) and Powell (Richard Roundtree), who are already scratching their heads over a series of bizarre ritual murders linked to a secret Aztec cult. Into the picture comes the film’s protagonist — neurotic, sweaty, paranoid crook Jimmy Quinn (Michael Moriarty, in a tour-de-force performance), a two-bit wheel-man with aspirations of becoming a jazz pianist. After a botched diamond heist leads Quinn to Q’s lair, his attempts to go straight take a side-turn as he decides to extort from the city an enormous sum in exchange for directions to the monster’s nest. A few sneaky deals later, the location falls into Shepard’s hands, and he leads a paramilitary assault on the Chrysler Building, where the creature’s humongous egg is about to hatch. Rude, edgy, fast-paced, and peppered with witty dialogue (most of which can’t be repeated here), Cohen’s script retains the spirit of classic monster movies like The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, injecting it with tough, gangster-movie moxie. Moriarty’s unbelievable performance — one of three collaborations with Cohen — finds him chewing acres of scenery as a contemptible, loud-mouthed goon who’s too funny to hate; Moriarty also composed and performed two schizophrenic piano numbers for the film.”

Trailer:

 
 
GODZILLA (2014)

GODZILLA(2014)
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Produced by: Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni
Mary Parent, Brian Rogers
Screenplay by: Max Borenstein
Story by: David Callaham
Based on Godzilla by Toho
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe
Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins
David Strathairn, Bryan Cranston
Released: May 8, 2014
 
Synopsis From FANDANGO:

“The king of all monsters returns in this Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures production helmed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters). As the story opens in Japan, we find dedicated nuclear power-plant manager Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) so caught up in his work that he forgets it’s his birthday. Sending his young son Ford off to school before reporting to the plant with his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche), who works in the reactor, Joe begins to suspect that some suspiciously patterned seismic activity may be something more sinister than shifting tectonic plates He’s right, too, because when the plant goes into meltdown mode and Sandra gets caught on the wrong side of the containment door, a massive cover-up ensues. Fifteen years later, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has become a bomb-disposal expert in the U.S. military. He’s just returned home to his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and their son Sam (Carson Bolde) when he gets word that Joe been arrested in Japan. Long estranged from his father, who was written off as a conspiracy theorist for his failed efforts to prove the Japanese government was attempting to hide something about the earlier disaster, Ford nevertheless ventures to Japan to get him out of jail, and reluctantly agrees to join him in traveling to their old home in the quarantined zone. Subsequently taken into custody, the pair end up in the very plant where Joe used to work, and where scientists Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) are studying a massive cocoon-like structure that appears to feed on radiation. The situation turns critical when the events of the present begin to mirror those of the past, and a terrifying winged-creature dubbed a “MUTO” is unleashed. Meanwhile, as the military attempts to devise a plan to destroy the beast, signals indicate that it had been calling out to something before it broke free, and the scientists learn that it has awoken a towering, godlike leviathan that has lied dormant for centuries, and may be mankind’s only hope for restoring the balance of nature.”

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Trailer:

 
 

CASKETS AND COFFINS – THE MANY FACES OF HORROR – Part 2: VAMPIRISM!
CASKETS AND COFFINS – THE MANY FACES OF HORROR – PART 3: WEREWOLVES and ANTHROMORPHS!

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