Posts Tagged ‘monster

29
Oct
08

Where’d HE come from? The Gill Man

You see her swimming in the water by the boat. You wanna take her home, back to your cave. What will she think of a guy with webbed feet and hands, as well as gills? And her boyfriend would probably protest, getting a bunch of guys with harpoons to hunt you down. But how did you get here?

 

Following such horror authors as Poe, Bierce, and Maupassant, there lived one Howard Phillips “H.P.” Lovecraft (1890-1937). Lovecraft is known for creating the Cthulhu mythos, as well as stories involving guilt, crimes committed by forefathers, forbidden knowledge, etc. His work has been brought to the screen with such films as “Re-Animator,” and influenced such writers as Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. To cut to the chase, it’s theorized that Gill-man, a.k.a. “The Creature,” was based off of Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”

 

But I’m getting ahead of myself, here. The Lovecraft story was seemingly based on “The Harbor-Master,” by Robert W. Chambers, a story about the last race of amphibious humans and “Fishhead” by Irvin S. Cobb, a story about a fish-man.

 

Published in 1936, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” deals with a man on a secret mission to Innsmouth. He says that he’s studying the architecture and general nature of the place, but there’s more to what he’s doing. When he comes across town local Zadok Allen, he’s told of Obed Marsh, a sea captain who brought the fish-frog men to Innsmouth so they can mate. The offspring can supposedly live forever. The narrator tries getting out of the town only to have the bus he’s waiting on experience engine trouble. While trying to stay an extra night he’s accosted by the local fish-frog men and escapes to the next town. In time he finds out that he’s a descendent of Obed Marsh and that he, too, will become one of the fish-frog men.

 

The “Creature,” or “Gill Man,” came to cinematic consciousness in the 1954 film, “The Creature From the Black Lagoon.” Directed by Jack Arnold and originally filmed in 3-D, the film centered on a group of scientists traversing the Amazon River (funny how it looks like Jacksonville, Florida) for fossils when they run across an amphibious creature. They capture him; he escapes but returns and falls in love with Kay, the fiancée of one of the scientists. Kidnapping her the hunt is on for him.

 

“The Creature From the Black Lagoon,” inspired two sequels, “Revenge of the Creature” (1955) and “The Creature Walks Among Us” (1956). H has also been referenced in the TV show “The Munsters,” as well as a pinball game and other merchandise. Currently, the film is being remade by Breck Eisner.

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24
Oct
08

Where’d HE come from? Freddy Krueger

You wear gloves with blades in them. A hat covers your head, giving shade to your mottled, burned skin and sinister grin. You can enter a person’s dreams, twisting and turning them as you wish and even causing death. But, how did you get here?

 

 

 

Let’s take this one back to the Greeks: everyone has heard of Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. What some do not know is that he had two brothers: Phobetor, who creates “fearsome” dreams, and Phantasos, who creates unreal dreams. This triumvirate ruled the world of dreams.

 

 

 

With all the stories based on “bad dreams” and Morpheus taking the heat of it all it was only a matter of time before a being to control them would rise from Hollywood. In 1984, Wes Craven delivered “A Nightmare on Elm Street” to the American cinematic doorstep. Filmed for $1.8 million (and earning $25 million), “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” involved a group of teenagers who collectively are experiencing bad dreams. When cuts and bruises that happen in dreams transfer over to reality, the teen Nancy Thompson finds out that the “demon” in her dreams with the knife-finger gloves and the hat is Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a child murderer who had been killed a decade earlier. Devising a trap for Freddy the teens make a go of it, but Freddy wins in the end.

 

Being written and directed by Wes Craven, he claims that the character was based on a homeless man who stared at him from the street as he looked through a window in his house (the hat), and a bully at his school (the name of the character). As for Freddy wearing a bright red and forest-green striped shirt, he had read an article in Omni magazine stating that the worst combination of colors would be those two, which is why he used them. And as for the kids dying from dreaming in their sleep, that was based on an article in the L.A. Times about such an event occurring.

 

“A Nightmare on Elm Street,” went on to have 4 sequels, and Freddy himself was featured in three more films after that. Add to that a short lived TV series called, “Freddy’s Nightmares.” Oh yeah, and novels and video games, too.

23
Oct
08

Where’d HE come from? The Invisible Man

You’ve got the gloves, the goggles, the scarf, the hat, and the long jacket. You’d love to “do the town” but there’s one problem: people can see right through you. Literally. Holing up in some motel, you plot your next course of action. Rob a bank? Get vengeance on those who avenged you? But how did you get here?

 

Stories of invisibility have been around almost as long as vampires and werewolves. In the beginning, only gods, angels, demons, and the like were able to become invisible, or actually be invisible. In Plato’s “The Republic,” a peasant finds a ring that provides invisibility, which he uses to get into the palace and seduce the Queen, plotting to kill the King. The Greek hero Perseus used a cloak of invisibility to kill Medusa. From this point, invisibility was kept primarily to objects such as rings, cloaks, and hats.

 

Skip way-forward to 1859, when author, playwright, and critic Fitz James O’Brien released the short story, “What Was It? A Mystery.” Although more of a playwright than a novelist (or short story writer), this piece of fiction was the first to deal with the subject of an “invisible monster.” About 22 years later then techno-writer Edward Page Mitchell released, “The Crystal Man,” an 1881 novel that is credited for the first use of scientific means to make a man invisible. These two literary sources led to “The Damned Thing,” by Ambrose Bierce (1894), where an invisible monster is loose in the Old West, and “The Horla” by Guy de Maupassant (1897), where an invisible being slowly drives the main character insane.

The same year H.G. Wells released, “The Invisible Man.” Not to be confused with “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, this story was about Griffin, a scientist kicked out of a university who pilfered money from his father and had been conducting experiments on invisibility until an altercation forces him to test it on himself. In being invisible, he robs banks in order to have money to continue finding a “cure” for invisibility. A pursuit by the police occurs and Griffin is killed. As he dies, his body slowly returns to being visible.

 

Horror author H.P. Lovecraft took the invisibility + monster idea and used it to craft his tale, “The Dunwich Horror” (1929). Hollywood, or rather Universal Studios, stepped in 4 years later and released, “The Invisible Man.” Directed by James Whale, “The Invisible Man” starred Claude Rains as Jack Griffin, a scientist who creates a new drug called “Monocane.” This drug allows him to be invisible, but slowly drives him insane. Trying to force his one-time partner Kemp (William Harrigan) to be a partner again and secretly seeing Flora (Gloria Stuart), things go awry. He’s captured and dies in a hospital, becoming visible again after death.

 

You’ve got the gloves, the goggles, the scarf, the hat, and the long jacket. You’d love to “do the town” but there’s one problem: people can see right through you. Literally. Holing up in some motel, you plot your next course of action. Rob a bank? Get vengeance on those who avenged you? But how did you get here?

 

Stories of invisibility have been around almost as long as vampires and werewolves. In the beginning, only gods, angels, demons, and the like were able to become invisible, or actually be invisible. In Plato’s “The Republic,” a peasant finds a ring that provides invisibility, which he uses to get into the palace and seduce the Queen, plotting to kill the King. The Greek hero Perseus used a cloak of invisibility to kill Medusa. From this point, invisibility was kept primarily to objects such as rings, cloaks, and hats.

 

Skip way-forward to 1859, when author, playwright, and critic Fitz James O’Brien released the short story, “What Was It? A Mystery.” Although more of a playwright than a novelist (or short story writer), this piece of fiction was the first to deal with the subject of an “invisible monster.” About 22 years later then techno-writer Edward Page Mitchell released, “The Crystal Man,” an 1881 novel that is credited for the first use of scientific means to make a man invisible. These two literary sources led to “The Damned Thing,” by Ambrose Bierce (1894), where an invisible monster is loose in the Old West, and “The Horla” by Guy de Maupassant (1897), where an invisible being slowly drives the main character insane.

The same year H.G. Wells released, “The Invisible Man.” Not to be confused with “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, this story was about Griffin, a scientist kicked out of a university who pilfered money from his father and had been conducting experiments on invisibility until an altercation forces him to test it on himself. In being invisible, he robs banks in order to have money to continue finding a “cure” for invisibility. A pursuit by the police occurs and Griffin is killed. As he dies, his body slowly returns to being visible.

 

Horror author H.P. Lovecraft took the invisibility + monster idea and used it to craft his tale, “The Dunwich Horror” (1929). Hollywood, or rather Universal Studios, stepped in 4 years later and released, “The Invisible Man.” Directed by James Whale, “The Invisible Man” starred Claude Rains as Jack Griffin, a scientist who creates a new drug called “Monocane.” This drug allows him to be invisible, but slowly drives him insane. Trying to force his one-time partner Kemp (William Harrigan) to be a partner again and secretly seeing Flora (Gloria Stuart), things go awry. He’s captured and dies in a hospital, becoming visible again after death.

 

The 1933 movie was followed by sequels: “The Invisible Man Returns” (1940), “The Invisible Woman” (1940), “Invisible Agent” (1942), and “The Invisible Man’s Revenge” (1944). TV series were created; “The Invisible Man” in 1958, “The Invisible Man” in 1975, “Gemini Man” in 1976. etc. “Hollow Man,” a film starring Kevin Bacon as the main character, was released in 2000 (it also has a straight-to-DVD sequel). And rock band Queen even had a song called, “The Invisible Man,” on their album, “Innuendo.”