Creeping Horrors (Nosferatu and Shadow of the Vampire)
That Transgressive Quiver (The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
Listen to them. Children of the night…
Have you never wanted to do anything that was dangerous?
Do you have to open graves to find ghosts to fall in love with?
You don’t believe the witch’s tales, do you?
You talking to me…or something out there?
An audience needs something stronger than a pretty little love story. So why shouldn’t I write of monsters?
Culture demands monsters. In the stories of every culture across the entire span of human history, we can find monsters. They span media, from Homer’s poetry up to tomorrow’s cutting edge video games. Some of the most enduring, iconic monsters have been reincarnated and reimagined as folklore became novels became movies. This year, I’ll be exploring some of the most iconic and interesting takes on the modern West’s best-known monsters.
The spine of this experiment will be the classic monster movies of Universal Studios. Onto these, I’ll be grafting interesting responses and alternative visions. By the end of the year, I’ll have written about works from nearly a century of film and television. There’s no way for this to be exhaustive or truly comprehensive, but I hope it will provide a solid foundation for further analysis.
For most of the year, I’ll be following a four-week cycle:
Week 1: Classic Universal monster movie.
Week 2: Contemporary television episode(s), starting with Penny Dreadful.
Week 3: Other movie(s) that provide an interesting viewpoint on the Week 1 movie.
Week 4: Contemporary television episode(s).
The initial plan is to look at the following in the first few Week 1 and 3 installments:
- Dracula / Nosferatu and Shadow of the Vampire
- Frankenstein / The Rocky Horror Picture Show
- The Mummy (1932) / The Mummy (1999)
- Bride of Frankenstein / Weird Science
- The Wolf Man / Ginger Snaps
- The Creature from the Black Lagoon / The Shape of Water
After that, I’ll do a couple of Week 1 / 3 pairings all drawn from the classics. First up will be a disfigurement two-parter, with The Hunchback of Notre Dame followed by The Phantom of the Opera. That will be followed by mad science month, with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde followed by The Invisible Man.
I’ll make a final visit to the Frankenstein family after that, with Son of Frankenstein followed by Young Frankenstein before it’s time for some monster mash-ups of questionable quality in preparation for October, during which I’ll dig into Universal’s series of monster rally movies.
Once Halloween is in the rearview mirror, it will be time to round things off with a selection of other notable and interesting monster movies and television episodes before 2018 wraps up.