The have been a lot of movies full of CGI creatures, aliens and monsters. Lots of directors want you to know they spent a lot of money on them, spend way too much time showing them off and leave little to the imagination.
I’m someone who can happily sit through badly dubbed dialogue of just about any Godzilla movie to get a glimpse of the big guy fighting clouds of smog or giant moths. It’s the journey that makes it so special, put the monster front and center and the suspense and magic is lost.
First up, this isn’t a rant against CGI. Computers have given us some monsters or aliens for the ages. Top of the list was the guy with the eyes on his hands from Pans Labyrinth, I caught it on TV recently and had forgotten how good it was. Also making my non-exhaustive list are the mindless bugs from Starship Troopers, the tentacle faced guy from Pirates of the Caribbean, Mummies, Megalodon and the Kraken from the otherwise horrible remake of Clash of the titans are all wonderful.
My problem comes from lack of imagination, in an industry that’s history is built on the stuff. Just because teen-vampires are cool right now, doesn’t mean we can’t have the occasional Bram Stoker type vampire to switch it up.
Lets look back to the classic monsters of pre-CGI. As cool as CGI can be, does anything really compare to Giger’s xenomorph from Alien? Has there ever been a monster that had made an impression on you like that? And I mean from the first movie, perhaps the ultimate thriller in outer space. I saw it when I was about 12, and it still scares me today.
Runner up on my old-school monster list is the Shark from Jaws. The limitations of the technology forced Spielberg to be creative in his camerawork and editing. And arguably made a better, more original movie as a result of working around the limitations, rather than with in them.
I love the low budget movie Darkstar, it’s great sci-fi. The captain preserved in a block of ice, intelligent nuclear bombs and a crew gone partially mad after decades in space. Of course there is the monster, and it’s a painted beach ball. Clearly director John Carpenters money had run out by this point, but everyone remembers it, and it’s impossible to argue its originality.
Which is most of what makes a monster cool.
So much was left to the imagination, and that’s way scarier than anything Hollywood can throw at us.
- Monsters (lacer.wordpress.com)
- Cloverfield (mhbd.blogspot.com)
- Cloverfield (jmountswritteninblood.com)