Posts Tagged ‘monsters’

A Hierarchy of Monsters

Posted: October 28, 2009 in Braak
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Over at io9, they’re doing another one of those “who would win?” voting contests, this time between classic horror monsters.  This is, obviously, madness–the general population is ignorant as to the nature and danger of assorted monsters, and consequently their opinions on the potency of those monsters is suspect.  This is evidenced by the very first competition:  “Zombie versus Mummy,” in which Zombies won by about 30%.

This is nonsense, and it needs to be rectified.  I am going to explain the order that the monsters go in, so that it can be settled.  In the future, if your children ask you, “Who would win in a fight?  The Mummy or the Wolf-Man?” please refer them to this list, as it will save a lot of time.


A young couple is staying at a secluded family cabin after a wedding – and after a rebuffed proposal by the boyfriend. So things are…tense. They are made decidedly more tense when a silent, masked trio targets them for a terror campaign. They spend the entire night meticulously working the couple’s nerves with a series of physical and psychological attacks, until morning brings the inevitable confrontation.

“This isn’t a horror film,” says director Bryan Bertino of his movie, “It’s a terror film.” And he is absolutely right. The Strangers is a film entirely concerned with terrifying its audience, and in that sense, it’s very effective.


Jaime had suggested Dolls, a horror movie that scared her when she was young. And the premise – killer porcelain dolls – is one that easily gives me the willies.

(There was this show when I was little, “Tales from the Dark Side.” It was so scary to me, as a four-year-old, that the credits alone gave me nightmares. In particular was this quick-zoom up to the face of a porcelain doll, who opened her eyes right as the music vamped up. Scared the crap out of me.)

So I had a good feeling that Dolls would push those irrational-fear buttons I look for in horror movies.

It took me ten minutes to realize it was a comedy. It took me 20 (and IMDB) to realize it was horror-comedy by the guy who directed Re-Animator. And only after learning that did I decide to soldier on through another hour of vaudevillian acting, silly special effects, and a plot that went for cutesy fun (something about finding your inner child…or else!) when it had the potential for real scary moments.

A week after watching, and I’m still trying to figure out just what didn’t work with John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness.

It’s a great idea for a story: an author, equal parts Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft, has somehow managed to inflict his horrific imagination upon the world at large. Or maybe it’s all his publisher’s grand hoax. It’s up to insurance investigator Sam Neill to figure out the truth and its consequences.

The problems start with Sam Neill as the cynical investigator. I spent too much of the movie distracted by his occasionally disappearing accent. Sometimes he sounds like his own Australian self, sometimes he sounds like he’s putting on a crap Brooklyn accent, and sometimes it falls in the middle.

It’s a weird distraction not at all helped by his co-star Julie Carmen, who chose exactly the moment my girlfriend woke up from a nap to watch the rest of the movie with me to start acting…well, like a shitty actress who didn’t know what she was doing.

What separates “The Blob” from the 200-odd movies featured on “Mystery Science Theater”? In two words…quality control.

It’s not a scary movie, it doesn’t have an awesome budget, and in its first half-hour, it tends to meander a bit before getting back to the plot.

The Plot, such as it is: blob attacks old man in the woods, then the doctor who’s treating him, then disappears for a long stretch of movie, while Steve McQueen and the gang go looking for it. Then all of Phoenixville tries their best to kill it, proclaiming the situation hopeless after each attempt.

I always think back to something MST3K’s Tom Servo said regarding movies like this: “To be fair, the producers weren’t really expecting anyone to be watching the movie by this point – everyone was supposed to be making out by now.”

Scaaary Old Man

Scaaary Old Man

It’s a cold, boring day at the office, so I’m going to talk about H. P. Lovecraft again. Because that’s my thing.

Here’s something interesting:  Lovecraft is widely-recognized as a genius of horror.  His books all have pull quotes from Stephen King and Clive Barker, introductions by Robert Bloch and Joyce Carol Oates and Neil Gaiman, and are adorned with descriptors like “legendary master of the macabre.”

Personally, though, I’ve only ever found three of his stories to be especially creepy.


Monsters: Updated!

Posted: October 3, 2008 in Braak
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A terrifying hell-beast has washed ashore in Russia.  Can there be any doubt that the Moscow Monster and the fabled Montauk Monster have been battling for mastery of an ancient civilization of degenerate crystal-skull-worshipping devil-men beneath the icy waters of the North Atlantic?  Who can deny the IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE of these squamous batrachian horrors?  Oh mighty Cthulhu, who dwells dead and dreaming in sunken R’lyeh, know that you will find no greater worshippers than Threat Quality Press, and grant us the mercy of a quick and painless death!

Today, I would like to take a minute to talk to you about H. P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft is one of my favorite authors and is generally acknowledged as being a bit of a genius, despite his pernicious racism, sexism, classism, and peculiar fascination with cats. His body of work is extensive, frightening, and was–certainly during his lifetime, anyway–completely unique.

His short stories (he wrote short stories almost exclusively) have occasionally been adapted to the silver screen and, with one notable exception, those adaptations have always sucked.



I like to use this site as something of a looking glass into the future. And I realize the outlook hasn’t been terribly beautiful of late.

Monsters. Killers. Car-humpers. I don’t pick the most pleasant of subjects to dwell on, it’s true. Sometimes it’s so easy to focus on the patterns that tell us it’s a bad old world and we’re just living in it, that I don’t put my eyes on ideas that are, in their own way, quite lovely.

Ideas like this:

Whales live in New York Harbor, singing songs to passing ships.

I think whales are astounding. They encompass a lot of different ideas to me – their prehistoric gigantism, the haunting new-age peace of their communication, their survival in the water only hinting at the bizarre monstrosities in the ocean that we don’t know about. All divergent, and yet all working to form a better picture of these massive creatures we can barely understand.

And here they are. Swimming below the Statue of Liberty.

I love the expressionistic deco image of zeppelins flying over New York City, skirting the Empire State Building. It’s an old time view of the future that never came to be. Flash Gordon modernism.

Now I like to think that just below that skyline, swim fleets of whales, zeppelins of the deep, singing lullabies to their city neighbors on the shore.

I think of that, and the future seems like something more amazing than I can even fathom.

Spite Fatalism

Posted: September 18, 2008 in Jeff Holland
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Statistics say you’re far more likely to be assaulted, raped, kidnapped or killed by someone you know, than by a stranger.

Sorry, how rude of me.  Welcome to Thursday at Threat Quality Press.