Movie Article

Monster Match

What are the ingredients of a great movie monster?

Boris Karloff, Bride of Frankenstein | OF INHUMAN BONDAGE Frankenstein has what it takes to be a great movie monster
Image credit: Bride of Frankenstein: Everett Collection
OF INHUMAN BONDAGE Frankenstein has what it takes to be a great movie monster

What are the ingredients of a great movie monster?

What are the ingredients of a great movie monster? —Xavier
A goalie mask and a really big knife, of course. I'm kidding. The truth is that those live-action figures of jack-in-the-box horror — Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers, and the Scream phantom — have redefined movie monsterdom, even though I'd call them mythical slasher icons who are not quite great monsters. What do they lack? In a word, mystery. To me, a great movie monster needs a quality of imaginative weirdness above and beyond its ability to shred you. Freddy, with his redneck rasp, comes closest, but I'm partial to the poignance of Frankenstein's patchwork-corpse man, the original King Kong, Dracula, and Norman Bates — and also, in recent times, to the creature from the original Alien. That one too is a jumpy slasher, but what takes it into the pantheon is its fearsome flesh-as-machine design. It's the Darwinian survival beast as nightmare.

(Got a movie-related question for Lisa or Owen? Post it here.)

Originally posted Nov 11, 2005 Published in issue #850 Nov 18, 2005 Order article reprints
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