Saturday, October 31, 2015

Monster Mash: Our Favorite Monsters of Fandom

It's that time of year when the spooky and creepy take over the world through costumes, TV specials, and horror films. Halloween is upon us and most people find ways to scare themselves. Usually this comes in the form of monsters. Think: Frankenstein's creature, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy--all the notable movie monsters of the ages. But also, others. We've discovered fandom is full of many monsters of all types: mysterious and dark, creepy and kooky, even cute and friendly. There's something about monsters that spike our heart rates and give us the creepy-crawlies; there's something about monsters we love. (Don't believe me? Check out Stephen King's essay, "Why We Crave Horror Movies.")

Since it's Halloween, we've gathered together our favorite "monsters" of fandom for one epic monster mash.

The zombies were having fun
The party had just begun
The guests included Wolfman,
Dracula, and his son

Bethany Baldwin: The Mummy

(The Mummy, 1999)

Whenever I think of movie monsters, the classics always come to mind, like the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Mummy. I’ve had a diet of many classic films from the thirties and onward, so I’ve seen plenty of classic monster movie showdowns. One of my favorite movie monsters is the aforementioned Mummy. He’s seen many reincarnations and just as many different actors. No matter the transformation, the chilling details of his story remain somewhat the same. I’ve seen two Mummy flicks, both appropriately titled The Mummy. In 1932’s feature, starring the early creep master Boris Karloff, the story mostly takes place in a museum where the Mummy has just been brought to. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen this version, but Karloff’s acting totally creeped me out as a kid. The other version I’ve seen is the famous 1999 film starring Brenden Fraser, which is more of an adventurous romp than anything, though there are some definite scary sequences thrown in.

(Boris Karloff as the Mummy--1932)

The Mummy remains an almost sentimental villain. If you look at his story from a different angle, it almost matches up with that of any romantic tragedy or protagonist’s struggle. The Mummy is a being longing for what most people desire—love. To achieve his desire to raise his lover from the dead and thus achieve what he sees as happiness, the Mummy will do anything, no matter how violent or cruel. The scariest part of this character may be how he reveals the lengths at which people will go to get what they want. Laying aside the thoughtful stuff, the Mummy is just a great monster all around. If you haven’t seen some piece of media with a mummy marauding around, I’d be surprised. Even though the Mummy is totally decayed, his scary factor is still fresh.

Jaime Heller: Weeping Angels

Weeping Angels, an ancient alien race who feed off time paradoxes. At first glance, they appear as harmless, angel statues. But it only takes a glance. The minute you turn away, the second you blink, they move: faster than anything. A single touch sends you zipping backwards in time, displaced forever. They’re the only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely. (Don’t blink.)

They are silent, they are still. Their statue forms populate the earth in calm serenity of angels, beings who are supposed to watch over humans. Most of the time, they are also weeping to hide their eyes. Until you blink. Then they change. Their faces contour into vampiric mouths, their clawed hands extended toward you. Monsters breathing down your neck. (Don’t blink.)

Since the first episode they appeared in, they’ve terrorized the worlds of Doctor Who. Every episode linked to them is more chilling than the last. The weeping angels are everywhere, waiting to strike the moment you blink. (Don’t blink.) Many tears have been shed over these monsters. Many hearts have pounded in anticipation since the first episode, “Blink.” (Note: do not watch this episode alone in your house at night. Bad idea.) Many surprise twists and turns have occurred. (Did I mention the Statue of Liberty is a weeping angel? Bye-bye, New York City.)

Yet, they are still considered the loneliest beings in the universe. They cannot look upon one another without freezing each other into a quantum-lock (a self-defense mechanism programmed into them; they turn to stone when someone’s eyes are upon them). So they are scary, but they still receive our pity (or maybe that’s just me?). The worst kind of monster there could be.

Don't blink. 

Anna Catherine: Mike Wasowski

Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University are my two favorite movies! Mike Wazowski is my favorite movie monster for many reasons.

He's scary (in a cute sort of way) and will do anything to achieve his dreams of working at Monsters, Inc.

He's very supportive of his best friend, Sully, and will help him in any way he can.

He's devilishly romantic and hopelessly in love with his girlfriend, Celia.

He's grammatically correct and isn't afraid of being called a Grammar Nazi.

He's fit...ish.

He makes for an adorable (and spooky when he's lit up!) Jack-O-Lantern. I carved this one!

Jameson C. Smith: Bigfoot

Known as Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and many other names, it’s my favorite monster-creature because of the mystery surrounding it. Not only is it the “star” of one of the most debated bits of footage in history, it has also been featured in movies, TV shows, and other media. Despite most accounts of Bigfoot sightings and encounters describing otherwise, movies usually depict the creature as being quite friendly around people—with human-like emotions and qualities, like what can be seen in the 1987 film Harry and the Hendersons or 1995’s A Goofy Movie.

The mystery of Bigfoot is both intriguing and creepy. Versions of “Bigfoot” are featured in legends and myths in many of the world’s cultures. In some cases, it is regarded as a being to be respected and in others it is seen as very dangerous. I think Bigfoot is an interesting creature in storytelling because it can be depicted as a terrifying being or it can be portrayed almost as a “mirror” character to human qualities and emotions, such as curiosity and friendliness (or, apparently, those moments when you just have to “dance like no one is watching.”)

Sky Destrian: Zombies

I never considered myself much for monsters or horror until I watched The Walking Dead. The characters were intriguing, all the episodes made my heart pound, and the plot twists shocked me. That's when I realized: the zombie apocalypse was actually pretty interesting.

While on first glance zombies may just seem like genius special effects, it's the idea behind zombies that is so pervasive and intriguing. The premise of zombies reflects a few things--humanity's fear of death, our fear of losing control, and our fear of seeing the ones we love become unrecognizable. In many ways, zombies are the embodiment of all our deepest fears.

When we see a person change into a zombie, we sense a complete and utter loss of control. We worry about what would happen if this happened to our friends, our family. We wonder what will happen to us when we die--and we worry about what will happen when we no longer have control over our consciousnesses. 

Zombies take a closer look at these fears and transform them into a different setting. While we aren't all involved in the apocalypse and zombies don't exist, these are all common themes we can relate to and empathize with. When these fears are framed in a different light, it helps us understand them. And it helps us understand ourselves.

(Never fear, though. If you ever find yourself face to face with a zombie, just look for the indomitable Rick Grimes and/or a strapping young man armed with a crossbow and determination. Or refer to this handy guide.)

They did the mash, they did the monster mash
The monster mash, it was a graveyard smash
They did the mash, it caught on in a flash
They did the mash, they did the monster mash

Happy Halloween! What is your favorite fandom monster?


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