Top 10 Sci-Fi Movie Monsters

 

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When it comes to monsters, the science fiction genre has many worthy contributions. Whether they’re from outer space, developed in a lab or a byproduct of our amok science, sci-fi monsters have thrilled audiences for decades and will continue to do so. Here’s the ten best sci-fi monsters on film.

10. Giant Ants (Them!): Sure they look hokey by anyone’s standards, but that spooky noise the behemoth ants created is memorable and the film (about efforts to destroy deadly gigantic ants created by nuclear radiation) is one of the best examples of giant animal monster movies from the ’50s.

9. The Judas Breed (Mimic): Guillermo del Toro directed this underrated monster movie about a genetically engineered insect (a cross of a praying mantis and termite) that evolves to feed on humans in subways and alleys. The creepy insects do this by appearing somewhat humanoid in the dark to lure their prey. Vicious, deadly and hard to kill, the Breed are a classic.

8. Ymir (20 Million Miles To Earth): An alien egg is brought back by a space expedition to Venus and hatches in Italy. The hatchling soon grows to humongous proportions and goes on a rampage in Rome in this Ray Harryhausen masterpiece.

7. The Creatures from The Mist (The Mist): Yeah the ending was too bleak but the film’s extra-dimensional creatures that plague the trapped shoppers in the supermarket are truly terrifying. An army experiment breaks the seal between dimensions unleashing a mist filled with assorted deadly carnivorous life forms that spit out corrosive webbing, lay eggs on human hosts and are just outright nightmare inducing.

6. Godzilla (Godzilla, King of the Monsters): The ultimate statement of nuclear radiation being bad for the environment as atomic bombs awaken and mutate a gargantuan dinosaur that destroys Tokyo with its atomic breath and destructive might. The original is still the best and most dire film of this genre. Let’s not talk about that abomination put out in 1998 which starred that Ferris Bueller guy.

5. Brundlefly (The Fly): David Cronenberg’s AIDS allegory cleverly updates and amps up the horror in this remake of the ’50s film. Jeff Goldblum’s scientist Seth Brundle has his genes accidently spliced with a fly when he teleports himself, and the result is a hideous amalgamation of the two.

4. T-Rex and Raptors (Jurassic Park trilogy): Let the extinct stay extinct! That message comes across in this Steven Spielberg classic about cloned dinosaurs that break loose and eat people in a soon-to-be-opened island theme park. The effects were groundbreaking then and are still impressive as the T-Rex is shown to be the badass that it was and the velociraptors nearly upstage the tyrant king with their cunning and agility.

3. Frankenstein’s Monster (Frankenstein): Boris Karloff’s quiet and eerie portrayal of the creature created out of dead human body parts by Dr. Frankenstein is still unsettling. Some thanks should go to Jack Pierce’s makeup and the atmospheric directing by James Whale in this classic statement of humanity’s folly in trying to control nature through science.

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2. The Thing (The Thing): John Carpenter’s 1982 remake of Howard Harwks’ film from the ’50s set a standard in moody paranoia and gross creature makeup effects. Not having a defined shape, the chameleon-like alien found by a doomed Antarctic research teams mimicked any life form it encountered. Including humans. But when the movie shows the Thing in-between transformations as its body disgustingly twists and contorts, it strained any viewer’s fortitude.

1. Alien Xenomorph (Alien films): The uber-space monster. Designed by H.R. Giger, this creature truly looked alien with its elongated skull, double mouth, exoskeletal structure and acidic blood. It’s a unique iconic look that few monsters have been able to match. Add to the mix, the fact that it can blend into its surroundings and it’s just plaine frightening.  Of course, what brought the movie houses down was the bloody debut of the serpentine infant alien that literally burst out of poor John Hurt’s chest.

Honorable Mentions: The Cloverfield Monster (Cloverfield),  the alien Predator (the Predator films), Hulk (the Hulk films), the Mutant Bear (Prophecy), the Bugs (Starship Troopers), the Mutant Baby (It’s Alive), Rhedosaurus (The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms), and the Gill Man (Creature From The Black Lagoon).

José Soto

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A Ghostbuster Summoned to Hogwarts

Earlier this month I was at the New York Comic Con and came across two persons giving out business cards with a website printed on them. I didn’t think much about it, everyone and their mother were giving out cards, mini-posters and other doodads to promote their film, comic, fill in the blank.

Anyway, I went home went, through my stash and found that card and decided to go to the printed website and was surprised to find a terrific fan film set in the Ghostbusters world mashed up with Harry Potter. The gist of it is that this rookie Ghostbuster down on her luck is recruited to go to Hogwarts on a mission. The only thing I didn’t like is that it sets up a big adventure and already I can’t wait. Give it a look-see, it’s worth the click!

Annette DeForester

Too Scared To See Paranormal Activity 3

Call me a sissy, a punk, whatever, I don’t care. I refuse to watch Paranormal Activity 3.

It’s not to say I think this franchise sucks or is like all the other horror franchises that have been beaten to the ground like the Saw and Friday the 13th films. I think the first Paranormal Activity released two years ago, scared me so much that I just don’t think I can bear to watch the further hauntings/adventures of Katie. I had a hard time sleeping for weeks! That film just gets you scared because the hauntings happen when you’re at your most vulnerable point, when you are sleeping. How can you defend yourself when you’re in that state? For anyone who doesn’t know, the first film was about a series of video tapings of a young couple being haunted late at night by an unseen, demonic force that grows more and more malevolent as the film progresses. A real slow burn.

Sure, I know a lot of you may laugh this off and say it’s just a film, not even based on a supposedly true event like The Amittyville Horror but the implications the films bring up that by trying to contact the other side you not only invite the unwanted evil forces into your life but empower them as well. That’s just how good the first film was, and from what I’ve heard the second film is more or less the same thing but still effective. Now I’m learning that the newest film is just as scary.

As much as I wanted to see the second film I couldn’t even watch the trailer on a full screen. By chance I caught a quick clip of a commercial of Paranormal Activity 3 the other night and it shows a video taping of some lady being levitated off the ground. That was enough for me.  Sorry I like to sleep peacefully at night.

This is probably a testament as to how effective the first film was, which is arguably the best “found footage” movie since The Blair Witch Project (and Cloverfield). I don’t know maybe one of these days, I’ll steel myself enough to watch the other two films.

Lewis T. Grove

Nice Werewolves Finish Last

This time of year, all you see are countless shows and movies featuring vampires and zombies. True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Twilight, Dawn of the Dead and The Walking Dead for example. They’re very popular so why isn’t there a craving for werewolves?

Sure they pop up as supporting characters or villains in vampire productions (see True Blood, Being Human, Underworld and Twilight) but it seems like any attempt to have werewolves as the main draw falls flat.

The most recent example was last year’s film The Wolfman that came and went without much notice. In fact, I believe the last breakout films about them were The Howling and An American Werewolf in London (and their sequels were awful). That was back in the ’80s when their makeup was revolutionary. Maybe it has to do with the way they are usually shown nowadays. Often they use obvious CGI or actual wolves whereas vamps and zombies are done with makeup that still carries the day. Filmmakers need to perfect a new way of presenting werewolves that doesn’t look like CGI.

The Undead Reach New Heights

Some may argue that since the ’90s vampires have been portrayed as very sexual and alluring hence their popularity. That take on vampires actually began with Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula back in the ’30s. But it wasn’t until Anne Rice’s vampire books that the concept of sensual, tortured vampires truly took off then went to an entire different level of popularity when the Twilight phenomenon started. The result was that the vampire became the superstar of the monster world leaving werewolves and others biting the dust. In terms of novels, there are many werewolf romance novel but they have yet to capture the public’s eye like Twilight has.

For zombies, they appealed to those wanting pure horror soaked with blood and guts and a dash of the apocalypse. When it comes to gore, werewolves can’t compete with cannibalistic zombies in the ick factor. As everyone knows the modern zombie genre started with George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead film and its sequels. Zombies also gained a strong presence with other media like Max Brooks’ World War Z novel, Robert Kirkman’s comic book The Walking Dead and numerous video games such as Resident Evil and House of the Dead. How can a poor werewolf compete with hordes of the undead rampaging through the streets? It’s gotten so bad that a recent episode of Spike TV’s show Deadliest Warrior featured a matchup of vampires against zombies with hardly a mention of lycanthropes.

Sign Of The Times

Many say that the public’s fascination with creatures of the underworld has to do with the times. Modern zombies are seen as a statement about modern materialistic society. IOW we are the undead; mindless drones who only consume. They’re also the great equalizer in the so-called social class struggle. As they feed on the rich and poor alike without regard, zombies have shown that we are all equal when it comes to food. Werewolves aren’t associated with the end of civilization and the one thing they had over zombies, being fast and savage, has been co-opted by recent zombie films.

Vampires not only explore themes of forbidden sexuality but of adapting to the new age while lamenting the old world and its more dignified culture. But the werewolf theme of man losing his humanity and giving in to his bestial nature is a compelling subject. Being Human explored this very well to the point that the werewolf protagonist is a well developed and sympathetic character. Other examples include The Wolfman, Marvel Comics’ Werewolf By Night and the American Werewolf films. There have been attempts to explore the sexual aspects of werewolves, most notably Neil Jordan’s film In The Company Of Wolves and Mike Nichols’ Wolf with mixed results. The gist of werewolf sexuality is the attraction to the rough, bestial nature of someone cursed as a werewolf. The ultimate good girl likes bad boy concept.

Nice Werewolves Finish Last?

Sookie Stackhouse in True Blood has a fascination with the werewolf Alcide that goes beyond her love for Bill and Eric. The attraction could be because Alcide comes off as more human and kinder than the vampires in the show and books. In many of these incarnations, the main character is shown to be a really nice, meek middle class person who uncontrollably releases the primal side. The film Wolf embraces this theme as Jack Nicholson’s character succeeds in life when he embraces his bestial side and stops letting others step all over him. Or take David Naughton’s character in An American Werewolf In London who is a comical, everyday kind of guy who transforms into a murderous lycanthrope with tragic results. The entire concept can be interpreted as an examination of how humanity is cut off from their true bestial selves that need expression.

It’s difficult to pinpoint why werewolves haven’t quite captured the general public’s eye like all the apocalyptic zombies and emo vampires. Perhaps it’s because werewolves aren’t the undead just specialized shape-shifters. Everyone is fascinated with death and the afterlife and zombies and vamps give us a glimpse of this in a way that werewolves cannot. Maybe it has to do with timing and frankly I wonder how much longer the vampire and zombie fascination will continue. To me it seems we’re oversaturated and the public’s attention will eventually shift to something else.

But the real reason for the lack of popularity probably has to do with the story itself. Recently there isn’t a truly captivating character or storyline that grabs the current zeitgeist. It can happen out of the blue; times and taste will change and the lycanthropes will capture the public eye with a crossover novel, game or film. They’ll get their moment in the moon before long.

Waldermann Rivera

The Thing Continues To Chill Audiences

The cinemas may be flooded with prequels, sequels, remakes and reboots, but The Thing is a worthy companion to John Carpenter’s 1982 classic film of the same name. Both films follow the source material (John W. Campbells novella Who Goes There?) more closely than Howard Hawks’ film from the ’50s.

The storyline is fairly simple, American  paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) joins a Norwegian research team in Antarctica when the Norwegians uncover a crashed alien craft frozen in the ice. They excavate the ship and bring back the icy remains of an extra-terrestrial that thaws out and displays the ability to genetically mimic any life form, including humans. Much like Carpenter’s film, this one plays a suspenseful and paranoid case of cat and mouse as the humans are picked off one by one by the Thing.

It was a wise move to place the movie in the Norwegian station since it helps make this film a good companion piece to Carpenter’s version. And equally wise to hire Dutch film director Matthijs van Heijningen, since portions of the film were filmed in Norwegian, and someone with equal Proto-Germanic language and cultural background would understand Norwegian characters, the movie cast and culture.  There are some good nuances with the Norwegians by having them converse among themselves in their native language since it helps make this film different while adding to the paranoia that pervades the humans.

Both versions deal with two reactions to our human situation; 1) the group paranoia of who is the enemy and 2) infectious diseases. The paraonid theme from the ’82 version reflects aspects of the Cold War of not knowing who is the spy. With the 2011 version, today’s identity theft problem is similar to what the Thing does. The difference is the Thing is a biological ID thief. Regarding diseases, back in 1982, AIDS was just emerging and most of the world was uninformed about the disease. Today we know AIDS spreads through bodily fluid contact which is how the Thing replicates and takes over humans in the 2011 film version.

But the real highlight was Winstead’s performance who has the same inner strength that Sigourney Weaver had in Alien. Much like Ripley, Lloyd at first doesn’t seem like a natural leader, but over the course of the film, her expertise helps the team to survive and more and more the leadership role is entrusted upon her. Her cleverness helps her in determining who is human or not just by observation and her quick theories of what the Thing is doing, proven right during the course of the movie.. Lloyd is a driving force which illustrates how this film is character driven.

Other standouts are the gorgeous cinematography which makes the scenes look like a National Geographic IMAX film and the music by Marco Beltrami. His score perfectly replicates the ’82 soundtrack. We also get to see the inside of the ship, we see a detailed autopsy and how on a cellular level the Thing replicates, and the effects were a fine blend of practical effects and CG.

This version also helps fill in the blanks and show how the aftermath that Carpenter’s characters discovered came to be. Be sure to stick around during the end credits to see how this film leads to the ’82 version.

Overall, this movie is on par with Carpenter’s classic thanks to Winstead’s character and her performance.

GEO as interviewed and written by Jose Soto