God. Marble Hornets has such a good hook, too. When you do current-found footage style, you run into the problem of. Why would this person be uploading this to youtube? why would this person be painstaikingly editing the film to make it seem like it’s progressing through a night, rather than Just the important conversational stuff? for most other films that are similar, that’s where it falls flat, but with marble hornets, they make sure the memory issues, the amnesia, the paranoia etc are so interwoven with the main character that it erases that. Keeps you submerged in the story. he has to post them, because he’s afraid of forgetting it. Or losing the tapes. Needs it for reference and God it’s done so well
This Friday, Blair Witch, a reboot of the iconic horror film The Blair Witch Project, hits theaters. Helmed by Sundance alums and director/screenwriter duo Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett (V/H/S, V/H/S-2, The Guest), production on the new Blair Witch was kept a surprise under the working title The Woods until its trailer debut at San Diego Comic Con.
The original Blair Witch Project premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, where it was purchased by Artisan Entertainment after an all-night bidding war following its premiere. It was produced on a budget of $60,000 and grossed over $248,000,000 at the box office, making it one of the most successful independent releases of all time. The Blair Witch Project was a trailblazer in many ways: it popularized the ‘found footage’ style of horror movies and used internet advertising in innovative and immersive ways.
Justin once made an independent horror film with a psychological twist, starring Doom, Loki, Red Skull, Norman Osborne, and Emma Frost. It was shot found footage style in a remote location, after many twist Doom held up the camera, shaking and gave the most iconic performance since the Blair Witch Project. In the end after Loki’s character dies, Doom was attacked dropping the camera he slowly crawl towards it only to be dragged after screaming by something in the dark.
Justin got awards for his film, Doom got acting awards, and is currently nominated for a scream queen and an Oscar for best performance in a horror film.
About a month ago I started a periodic series of articles
delving into the color identities of giant movie monsters. As a lover of kaiju
films, I begin with the most iconic members of this group: Godzilla and his
most popular nemeses. There’s no denying the global influence Godzilla, and
Japanese monster movies in general, have had on the genre.
But as much as Japan has dictated trends in monster movie
history, the United States has been right there dictating trends too. While
stories of giant monsters are thousands of years old, the first real monster
movie hit was The Lost World,
produced by First National Pictures in 1925. While the film “only” starred
dinosaurs, it was the precursor to one of the most revered movie icons of all
Today’s article will focus on some of the American
monsters that have most influenced the genre over the decades. Even if you’re
not much of a monster movie fan you’ll certainly recognize some of the critters
on this list.
It’s Good to Be the
No, rexy, Kong
doesn’t want to make out with you.
Godzilla may be King of the Monsters in Japan, but
America’s monster monarch has ruled for much longer. While dinosaurs terrorized
people on screen for years, King Kong marked the shift to more fantastic
beasts. With his city-smashing ways, Kong punched the door open for the giant
monster movie as we know it today. 1933 saw the birth of a genre.
So what color or colors does King Kong fall under? To
start, he’s just a giant gorilla. Flavorfully in Magic, those tend to be Green creatures. Does Kong act Green? You
bet! In the original film, he spends most of his time engaging in animalistic
combat with his archosaur neighbors. The final clash on top of the Empire State
Building even pits nature against the pinnacle of technology: the fighter
The original film offers no insight into Kong’s
motivations, showing him as merely an animal run amok. But both the 1976 and
2005 remakes show him having a sympathetic emotional connection to Dwan and
Ann, respectively. This skews the character little bit into Red territory, as
we know Kong protects his girl out of a sense of affection for her.
Coincidently, Kong’s other main appearance also falls
into the Red/Green category. While Kong plays mainly the same role in King Kong vs. Godzilla, he is given an
expressly Red power. In order to be evenly matched against Godzilla’s atomic
breath, Kong can absorb and channel electricity into his fists. This thundering
touch helps Kong eventually overpower his reptilian adversary.
Legendary Pictures’s Kong:
Skull Island is set to hit theaters next year. We know the film is set in
the same diegesis as the latest Godzilla film, and Legendary has already
scheduled the clash between the two icons. My assumption is that they will stay
true to Kong’s Green nature, but we’ll have to wait and see how they update the
legend for today.
Under the Sea
If it ain’t broke,
While King Kong
may have kicked off the giant monster movie genre, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms ushered it into modernity. Last week
I mentioned that there are a number of monster archetypes that are threaded
throughout the genre, and this film establishes the most common trope: the
monster awakened by atomic weapons.
This film concerns the Rhedosaurus, a fictional dinosaur
species woken by atomic tests in the Arctic Circle. The dino marches back to
its ancient breeding ground…which just so happens to be New York City.
Specifically, the Rhedosaurus assaults the Coney Island amusement park. No fun
allowed, I guess!
The ancient menace is just a rampaging animal, making it
a squarely Green threat. This is a recurring theme in American monster movies
throughout the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. Atomic bomb awakens or mutates a giant
monster, monster attacks city, military scientists find a way to kill the
Another fun little tidbit is that this is the film that
really catapulted Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion animation effects. Harryhausen
was inspired by the work in King Kong
and would go on to become one of the most influential special effects artists
in cinematic history.
Would not smooch.
Writing about one of Harryhausen’s first creations means
I should probably spend some time on one of his last. Clash of the Titans, released in 1981, was one of the last great
stop motion animation films. Harryhausen’s career was defined by his Greek
mythology films, and this one set out to outdo them all. It tells the story of
Perseus, who slew Medusa and used her head to petrify many other monsters. The
most notable story was when he defeated a sea monster, which the movie
rebranded as the Norse kraken because evocative names sell better.
This isn’t a very difficult monster to assess, as the
kraken in the film is just like Krakens in Magic.
Huge sea monsters are a mainstay of Blue, and this kraken is no different. Most
of the destruction it causes isn’t even caused by its immense bulk. Instead,
the kraken’s movements cause tidal waves capable of wiping cities off the map.
As Blue as can be.
clearest shot of the monster in the entire film.
Monster movies are making a bit of a comeback, and the
film that rode King Kong (2005)’s
heels was Cloverfield, a monster
movie with almost no monster in it. The entire movie is shot found-footage
style and follows the misadventures of a bunch of annoying young adults as a
giant monster attacks New York City. The military fails to do much damage to it
as the parasites that drop from its body start hunting people too. The film
ends with the death of the final cast members, and the monster’s fate is
Clover, as the monster is affectionately nicknamed by
crew and fans, is some sort of sea monster. The film never goes into detail why
it’s attacking New York, but part of the viral marketing for the film implies
it has something to do with an oil rig disturbing it. J. J. Abrams is a
generally terrible storyteller, so it’s no wonder that there’s basically no
information to talk about here. This is probably a case of a Green monster
rampaging after being awakened by technology.
Get in the Robot
Russian tech always
Pacific Rim is
going to be a historic movie. It bombed in the domestic market, but foreign box
office totals were high enough to greenlight a sequel. The film didn’t perform
great, and this will be the first time a movie deemed a failure will get a
sequel like this. I hated the film, but its fans were vocal enough to factor
into Legendary Pictures’s decision.
Alien monsters are attacking Earth through a portal in
the bottom of the Pacific Ocean! I don’t know why they didn’t make it closer to
land, but whatever. Humanity defends itself with titanic robots called jaegers,
German for “hunter.” If you haven’t seen the film before, it’s basically a
giant homage to mecha anime.
As defenders of humanity, jaegers are easily founded in
White. They are guardians, soldiers, and great unifiers; the nations of the
world have put their differences aside to fund the jaeger program for the good
of all people.
The jaegers are controlled in a unique way, however. Each
one links the minds of two pilots in order to control the machine with their
thoughts. This kind of psychic control scheme is Blue. Not only is the mental
aspect reflective of the color of mental power, but the robots themselves are
basically titanic prosthetics. Blue is the color that most readily embraces
technology as a way to maximize the body’s potential. One simply needs to pilot
a jaeger to be able to fight the evil monsters at our doorstep!
But what about those monsters?
Through the Breach
thought the wall would work?
The kaiju are genetically altered monsters created by an
alien threat from another dimension. Or something like that? The movie isn’t
very clear where exactly the bad guys are from. But they’re sending the kaiju
over to Earth to wipe us out before they take our planet. Jerks.
Kaiju are essentially all clones, grown and manipulated
by the alien scientists. Each one has specialized weapons for fighting the jaegers,
from acid spit to electromagnetic pulses. I don’t know why they all just don’t
have the EMP capabilities, as that’s the obvious weapon to fight robots. And I
have no clue why Gipsy Danger somehow wasn’t affected by it. The thing still
runs on electricity.
Magic has a
close analogue to this process of monster manufacturing: the Simic Combine. The
Simic are all about genetic manipulation to make creatures cooler and more
useful. Since the aliens in the movie are making the kaiju with the same
ideology and process, it’s safe to label the kaiju as Green/Blue beings. The
aliens themselves probably have a bit of Black in them, what with the whole
global domination thing, but we can consider the kaiju as separate entities for
the purposes of this article.
America’s role in the giant monster movie history is
foundational to the genre. The early days incorporated regular dinosaurs (Green
villains at their core), but King Kong
started pushing such films in more fantastic directions. America also kicked
off the age of atomic monsters, establishing one of the most common archetypes
in the genre. Monster movies are making a comeback today, spearheaded by a handful
of moderately successful American films as well. Green-aligned monsters
fighting technology has been the core of the country’s relationship with
monsters, and I’m sure that theme will be played with for decades to come.
Until next time, planeswalkers, just let them fight.
“Sometimes I wish that some of the "found footage” films that have been made would be remade into actual well made films. I think there are a few that would end up being better had it not been made in a “found footage” style.“
Do you think modern horror is stupid nowadays? With the whole paranormal activity sequels and? And in recent years, found footages are getting a bad rap of being "cliched" "over the top" and "unnecessary elements" in the plots and characters. I'm not saying this because I absolutely despise horror and I'm not a "squeaky clean" person. But many critics complain about modern horror not being good presently. Just curious since you love horror movies and other movies of the like I suppose... ^ ^;
It isn’t necessarily that modern horror is “stupid”, per se, but that our current social/political and economical climate isn’t conducive to original, inventive, cutting-edge horror.
While horror films are some of the easiest to turn a profit from (much more so than, say, a drama or a romantic comedy), they’re also some of the easiest to fall into creative stagnation. When a particular feature gains popularity, it becomes relentlessly exploited until audiences become sick of it, and move along to the next big thing.
For example, after The Blair Witch Project (1999), “found footage” horror came into style in a big way, even though that particular method of marketing and storytelling had already been done nearly two decades prior with Cannibal Holocaust (1980). What made the template so appealing is that independent filmmakers could shoot a feature on digital without the need for expensive equipment, as it actually benefited the production to look “raw”. Of course, nowadays, the digital medium has garnered more respect, and the technology now boasts crisper imagery than it did back then (films like 28 Days Later (2002) helped to break down the stigma that had been associated with shooting a feature on digital). “Found footage” enjoyed a second renaissance after the success of V/H/S (2012), but what producers and financiers fail to take into account is that a film becomes most successful when it’s bringing something new to the table. With V/H/S, there came the simultaneous familiarity and departure of the VHS format, and it also appealed to the sort of crowd interested in trading “video mixtapes”. Everything “retro” has come into style in a big way in the last few years, and outdated media formats are no exception. However, even this has a shelf life, as V/H/S: Viral (2014)–the third installment in the franchise–has been met with generally negative reviews and overall indifference.
Filmmaking relies heavily on having a “draw”, or an element to exploit–something to catch the attention of potential audiences. Exploitation cinema is not the only subgenre that thrives on ballyhoo. We have come to a point now where a lot of cinematic taboos have been breached, and we’re left with very few options when it comes to giving audiences something they’ve never seen before. When one has explored every trail and tree, the forest holds much less allure.
Filmmaking also revolves more around profits than it honestly should. Potential producers are less likely to finance anything that doesn’t have a guaranteed return. If it lacks certain exploitable elements, lacks notable names, and strays too far from a recognized template, it’s practically dead in the water. Sure, there are breakout hits here and there, but breakout hits are just what the name implies: They succeed because they manage to excel in some way. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) succeeded just as the slasher genre was waning by introducing a supernatural element that allowed for surreal imagery and fantastic setpieces. Darren Aronofsky‘s Pi (1998) (not a horror film, per se, but horror fans should definitely take notice) was a breakout indie hit–and launched the director’s career–because it took the mundane concept of mathematics, and made it tense, stylish, and thought-provoking. The Cabin in the Woods (2012) was a hit because it took every tired, overused horror cliché, and validated them in the most unexpected way possible.
Another obstacle currently facing the genre is the recent resurgence of the “moral majority” and the “political correctness” plague, and this time, the bulk of the backlash isn’t coming from the far right, but from the far left (because let’s face it–if it was coming from the same people that it did two decades ago, no one would give a shit. We’d still be laughing at them). While older horror films have finally been granted uncensored releases, newer films are still being butchered left and right by the ever-vigilant MPAA–not only for language, but for violent content. The only means of circumventing this is to be the fattest cat with the biggest wallet (Spielberg once got away with graphically ripping someone’s face off in a PG film, but Wes Craven wasn’t allowed to have a large splash of blood in an R-rated one two years later). We’re seriously in a time now where people don’t even want to allow villains to be villainous. The entire point of having a “bad guy” is to have a negative force to focus our hatred and fear on in a fictional setting, and the PC-police won’t allow them to say anything “offensive”. It’s as though no one ever wants to be out of their comfort zone, even in a safe, controlled environment. No one wants to feel anything (except moral outrage, of course). Human beings need to experience the entire spectrum of emotion in order to remind us of our own humanity. You’re afraid? Good. It means you’re still alive. Once again, the media is being blamed for violence, despite already having had numerous studies delving into the notion coming up empty-handed. Humanity always wants a scapegoat to avoid acknowledging our own highly-flawed system of beliefs.
“What? His parents never paid attention to him as a child? They disregarded his feelings? They abused him? Don’t be absurd! It was those horror movies and video games that made him do it!”
We’re walking on eggshells now. Nothing can be too “mean”, even if the entire point of the movie is to scare the living shit out of the audience. But, I digress.
In the end, there is no surefire recipe for “good” horror, and honestly, it’s for the best. A good horror film does exactly what it should–it comes out of nowhere, and gives you a solid jolt. These days, we’ve been seeing a tremendous glut of remakes and reboots, with a good portion of them failing miserably. The financiers of these films are simply trying to further milk an established fan base with little regard for the quality or integrity of the films. Sure, a movie can make money over a weekend, but is anyone going to give a damn about it ten years down the line? Is anyone even going to remember it? Good horror rarely comes from the people grabbing you by the arm and forcing it down your throat. Good horror comes from taking chances. If we never take chances–if we live in fear of “offending” people, or try to follow someone else’s guidelines of what is “acceptable”–then we’re just like one of those little Hot Wheels cars going around and around the same track until we inevitably veer off-course and crash into the side of the fridge.