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RUE MORGUE #12: Horror Movie Monsters

Launched in 1997 by Rodrigo Gudiño, RUE MORGUE is the world’s leading horror in culture and entertainment brand, spearheaded by its multiple award-winning magazine, RUE MORGUE and RUE MORGUE DIGITAL; RUE MORGUE TV specialty horror channel; RUE MORGUE LIBRARY book series; RUE MORGUE PRESENTS FRIGHTMARE IN THE FALLS horror expo and RUE MORGUE PRESENTS CINEMACABRE MOVIE NIGHTS monthly film series.

MARRS Media Inc.
6 Issues

in this issue

5 min

“WHEN I WANT YOUR OPINION, I’LL BEAT IT OUT OF YOU!” That phase – paired with a movie still of the Universal Frankenstein’s monster wringing a neck – was on a T-shirt I got when I was six years old. It was my favourite piece of clothing and I wore it like armour, at least until the iron-on patch started to peel and it got too tight. At that point in my life I knew there was a monster people called “Frankenstein,” he was from a movie I hadn’t watched, and he was scary. Wearing him on a shirt was empowering, like I was part of a club. So by the time my parents introduced me to the 1931 Frankenstein a couple years later, I was entranced. I saw a strange…

39 min
chapter 1 the undead

YOU CAN JUDGE A MOVIE MONSTER BY ITS REPUTATION OUTSIDE OF CINEMA, WHICH IS WHY FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER IS A KING AMONG THE UNDEAD, AT LEAST FOR ME. Author Mary Shelley created the creature over 200 years ago and it is, without a doubt, one of the great literary characters, but the defining version of the Big Guy was constructed by Universal Pictures in 1931. Boris Karloff, under makeup and prosthetics created by Jack Pierce, was directed in the role by James Whale. Whale was working from a script by Francis Edward Faragoh, Garrett Fort, Robert Florey and John Russell (the latter two uncredited) that was adapted from a play by Peggy Webling, which in turn was adapted by John L. Balderston from Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel. Add in laboratory effects…

5 min
case study: the undead and the paradox of horror

EVOLUTION HAS MADE US FAVOUR CATEGORIZATION – IN FACT, WE RELIED ON IT TO GET HERE. Way back when, early humans – the ones with cool loincloths and spears – who could best recognize danger and avoid or conquer it survived to pass along their genes. Those who made the distinction between things like friend/foe, prey/predator, edible/poisonous most efficiently, thrived. Categorization is a basic survival skill and we’re genetically predisposed to understand the world that way; in fact, we value categorization so much that when we encounter things that defy our categories, they ellicit a strong response. Sometimes we’re weirded out (remember green and purple ketchup?), delighted (think unicorns, pixies and other friendly fantasy creatures), confused (I’m looking at you, platypus, you beaked, egg-laying mammal), or curiously creeped out (any…

3 min
guillermo del toro on worshipping frankenstein and the universal monster movies

GUILLERMO DEL TORO HAS BUILT A CAREER ON FANTASTICAL MONSTER MOVIES BECAUSE HE UNDERSTANDS AND VENERATES THEM LIKE FEW OTHERS. For the filmmaker behind Cronos, Pan’s Labyrinth, the Hellboy franchise and Pacific Rim, it all began with the original creature classics, especially Frankenstein, which he holds as sacred, revering those who can truly bring it to life. In an increasingly secular society, do you think that fantastical creatures such as monsters take on an almost religious role? I have a serious spiritual life but it’s very oriented towards the Eastern philosophies. But I have another, very intense, spiritual relationship with monsters, and I dare say my relationship with monsters is as deep. I don’t think anything moves me as much as Frankenstein’s creature. It’s the most moving image I’ve ever seen, even…

3 min
the creators of stake land on mixing vampires and zombies

IF VAMPIRES ARE PEANUT BUTTER AND ZOMBIES ARE CHOCOLATE, STAKE LAND IS A CINEMATIC REESE’S PEANUT BUTTER CUP. For their 2010 apocalypse film, director/co-writer Jim Mickle and star/co-writer Nick Damici created something unique by combining the vampire with the zombie: grotesque, feral ghouls with the thirst and superior physical abilities of your average bloodsucker. Damici stars as the John Wayne-like “Mister,” a vamp slayer travelling with an orphaned boy in the remnants of an America torn apart by monsters, both inhuman and human, including an ultra-right-wing cult. By combining the tropes of two well-known undead threats to create something more dangerous than your average rotting shuffler and more numerous than your standard bloodsucker, Stake Land raises the, er, stakes. (Similarly, the filmmakers invented the rat-zombie plague movie for 2006’s Mulberry Street.)…

2 min
dan o’bannon on rethinking romero’s zombies for the return of the living dead

“THEY’RE BACK FROM THE GRAVE AND READY TO PARTY!” – The Return of the Living Dead’s tagline says it all. We all know George A. Romero created the modern zombie with 1968’s Night of the Living Dead and refined it with Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985), so when Dan O’Bannon was tasked with scripting (and eventually directing) an undead film by producers who had the rights to make a Dead movie, he knew he had to make it his own. He wrote a script about workers at a medical supply house, a funeral home director and some punk rockers facing off against zombies that talk, plot and crave braaaiiins. He also gave it a comedic spin, added a punk rock soundtrack, nudity, slime and…