Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Classic vs. Modern Monsters

Karen: When it comes to horror and monsters
, I am decidedly old school. Growing up, the Universal Monsters -Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, Mummy, Creature - were always on TV, usually on Saturdays, and I sat in front of the screen mesmerized by their tales. Each one had such a distinct back story and personality. Three of them, the Frankenstein Monster, the Wolfman, and the Mummy, also had tragic elements that made you feel for the characters. For me Dracula was just flat-out evil, and the Creature was more like a wild animal. But all of them had something that made them exciting and scary, but in a fun way.

Then in the 70s and especially 80s, a new type of monster came along: The slasher. This monster was far closer to our reality than the old monsters had been. He was essentially a serial killer with supernatural abilities or origins. There's Freddy from the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Jason from Friday the 13th, Michael Myers from Halloween, Chucky from Child's Play, and many others. Most of their victims are teenagers. While some of these characters were somehow wronged in their past, most of them are just plain evil psycho killers that deserve little sympathy, if any. Certainly the child murderer Freddy can hardly be considered worthy of our concern. And yet, these monsters are immensely popular with some fans.

So I'm curious: I know some of you also enjoy monster stuff. Where do you fall in this discussion? Classic or Modern? And if it's modern, I'd really be interested in hearing why.



Rip Jagger said...

Classic all the way for me. I dig out the Universal monster movies every other year at least and give them another look.

Freddy's a dandy creation, and Jason's a hoot, but they all bow before the elegant horror of Whale's Frankenstein.

Rip Off

Anthony said...

I also prefer the classic monsters and I include the Hammer series in this category.

Modern monsters such as Michael Myers may have started out ok but as their series progressed
( or degenerated )they became nothing more than an exercise in cruelty. The body count and "inventive" kills became all important selling points.

david_b said...

To me.., classic monsters have their roots and draw appeal from classic story-writing, weaknesses of the human soul. The new stuff is more audience-candy, much like the 50s stuff.

Another strong reason of appeal for the classics was when they were shown to our generation -- late night TV.., adding to the creepiness, along with the cold reality of B&W cinema, making it all the more chilling. The advent of cable and recordable media has made stuff more accessible, anytime of day. Just my thoughts.

david_b said...

Sorry, didn't really coclude my last point.. Being able to watch newer stuff 24\7, and in color loses a lot of mystique of how we digested the classic 'horror movie' or monsters of the past.

Plus, all the gore ruins it for me..

J.A. Morris said...

I'll take the classic Universal Monsters any day over the more modern stuff.

Like Karen, I often watched these old school horror films on Saturdays & Sundays when I was a kid. Even if I'd seen them, they were always "Appointment Television" in the pre-HBO/pre-VHS/DVD era.
I own all the Frankenstein movies and was lucky enough to catch 'The Bride Of Frankenstein' on a big screen at the American Film Institute a few years back. It's still bugs me that Lugosi only played Dracula once in his prime.

From about age 10 to 14, I enjoyed (if that's the right word) then-recent "modern" horror flicks like 'Halloween' (best of the bunch, but no "classic" in my book), the first 3 'Friday The 13th' movies, 'Terror Train' and 'Motel Hell'. But by the time I'd turned 15, I just found slasher movies boring, predictable, cliched and just plain unpleasant. I haven't seen any of them in years.

I like a little "escapism" in my horror, so I'll always prefer the classics.

And I hope Karen & Doug won't mind me making a plug here, but my wife and I are blogging about Halloween episodes, specials & movies this month, check out our first 3 reviews:


dogspunk said...

my favorite "modern" monsters are of the Japanese "vengeful ghost" variety. but then again they are modern takes on their classic monsters.

Fred W. Hill said...

I gotta go with the classic monsters too. Even Dracula had a touch of tragedy about him, rather than being a creature of pure evil. Regarding the slasher flicks of the last 30-odd years, I lost any desire to any more of those by the early 80s. Some of the zombie movies of recent decades are fairly good, as far as horror flicks go, though my favorite was the humorous Sean of the Dead. But I can really do without ever seeing Jason, Freddie, Michael and the rest of that gang ever again.

Anonymous said...

That being said, the early '80s are still Bronze Age. Too much attention is spent on the early '70s because it's so cool and we love it so much...but comics of the early 1980s deserve to be part of this conversation, as does the media it fed off of...

Dougie said...

I've posted on my own blog about the BBC summer Saturday night Horror Double Bills from about 1977-1980.
The pattern began with a Universal movie doubled with a Hammer. In later seasons, Corman and early Romero were folded in. So, all the classics were lodged in my memory as a teenager.

The first "slasher" film I saw was "The Fog", on VHS. It was at our drama lecturer's party in the wee small hours, when I was about twenty years old. I enjoyed it but I never sought out Friday 13th, Elm Street or the other iconic 80s franchises. I'm too squeamish now for the likes of Saw, Hostel and The Human Centipede.

Doug said...

Anonymous --

Thanks for the comments. However, we'd like to remind everyone that a certain decorum is expected around here. Karen and I would very much prefer the maintenance of a PG atmosphere on our blog. We'd appreciate a little restraint in regard to the use of coarse language.

Thanks very much,


Doug said...

You know, on second thought after a fourth re-read of your first post, I am exercising our administrative rights and just deleting the post. If I could edit it for language I would, but that function is not available.

Thank you,


Doug said...

OK, so you see I'm struggling with this... Here is what anonymous typed, and I've copied it here so that I could edit it and the comment could remain part of the conversation.

Anonymous said:
Come on, people! Of course individuals like us who populate this site and love old-school stuff are going for the early monsters---but I'm 36 and had a hell of a time watching '80's horror movies on drugs...nothing can replace archetypes, but what has gone on in horror movies (more dark, more violence, less humanity) reflects the general tenor of modern media...but the fact is that the original monster memes have been repeated ad infinitum since their birth, and the more violent movies of the last 4 (I'm old!) decades have affected and had a greater influence on post-1980's is just much darker now than the innocent days of ', Freddy is archetypal.


Chuck Wells said...

The classic ghouls are superior to the modern variations. At least at the end of their movies, Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolf Man were clearly destroyed - yeah, I know they came back again & again - but, in the individual films their threat was ended for the surviving cast.

Krueger, Myers and Pinhead et all, always get a last minute "cheat" to show that they weren't DEAD after all. And who wants that?

Joseph said...

Cast my vote for Classic as well.

I like david b's point about our access to the monsters as well. Stumbling upon a b&w version of Frankenstein at midnight while crowded around TV with the sound low so as not to wake the adults adds a certain dimension of fear and intrigue that is lost in today's admittedly awesome age of instant access to anything (excuse the excess alliteration).

Andreas Krauß said...

Definitely "Classic".

The Christopher Lee Dracula, The Wolfman & The Mummy are my favorite monsters.

Modern horror stuff is just.. ugh.

Anonymous said...

In an age of cross-over mania to keep the digital generation interested. If they ever did a movie putting the vintage monsters against the modern types I would have to say the classic monsters should win.It's only right that monsters that posses simple empathy and dare I say even elegance should prevail over undead revenants filled with only vitriolic hate. Both Freddy and Dracula may go down with a cross and holy water, but Freddy will always be outdone by the figure of innocence he hates "women" whereas Dracula seeks to entice a bride for himself even though it comes at a heavy price. Frankenstein s monster had the capacity for love and desperately sought to be loved. Jason Vorhees only was a robotic killing machine destined to keep Crystal Lake a graveyard for the twisted love of his mother. The Wolf Man was the tale of tormented soul Larry Talbot as opposed to Leather face's cannibal clan family who tormented all outsiders. Kharis crossed eternity to pursue his love Anak-Su-namen..Michael Myers did the same to pursue his sister with a carving knife. The differences between these classic vs modern monsters becomes clear, as Lon Chaney Jr. once stated it is now blood for the sake of blood, killing for the sake of killing, an excuse for the kids to have a ball.

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