Monday, July 2, 2012

From The Archives: Why Creature Week?

(originally posted on September 20, 2010)

Perhaps you're asking yourself that.

What it boils down to is how amazed I am at the amount of people who lump horror movies into a single genre, when there are so many subgenres in this field, and each one with its own merits.

There's suspense thrillers like Psycho ...

Slasher films like Halloween ...

Fantasy Horror like Phantasm ...

And of course, who could overlook monster movies.

But even among something as specific as a monster movie there's still any number of subgenres to consider. Take vampire flicks and zombie pictures for example. They are as different from each other as Westerns, such as The Big Country, are from desert epics like Lawrence of Arabia.

Incidentally I chose to mention Big Country and Lawrence to make a point. Both of these movies are set in largely desolate countries, both feature social commentary, both were serious dramas, yet if you hold them up side by side there's not one chance in a hundred that anyone would ever mistake the two as belonging to the same genre of film.

Getting back on topic, vampire thrillers often involve the occult, some type of seduction or manipulation of other people, and of course, lots and lots of sharp wooden stakes and big plastic fangs. The zombie genre on other hand has a whole different list of qualifications. They involve plagues or curses (usually) that spread to a large number of people and by the end (not always but most times) degenerate into simple survivor pictures.
Now, I'm not here to talk about westerns, desert films, or even vampire and zombie movies. I'm only using that illustrate that there are tons of subgenres in horror films and monster movies and these subgenres are usually very that’s why we’re dedicating a whole week to The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on fish-men, but as near as I can tell the genesis of these beings seems to have originated with the Gill-Man (the Creature's actual name in the movie) … on film that is. There is a strong argument that H.P. Lovecraft was the father of these strange creatures in terms of fantastic fiction. Short stories like Dagon or The Shadow Over Innsmouth seem to point towards a creature very much like the Gill-Man.

Of course, there’s no accounting for legends of mermaids, sea monsters, and other superstitions. Undoubtably the idea of men from the murky deep have been with us, and yet this subgenre in particular seems to be as mysterious as the Oceanic depths themselves.

Over the coming week I’ll be providing facts and trivia about the Gill-Man and the three Universal pictures that featured him, as well highlighting his other appearances in animation, books, and even on stage. In addition to that I’ll be talking about other films in this rarely considered fish-man genre.

Well, that’s enough splashing about with expository. Time to move out of the shallow waters and into deeper matters with …

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