The Real World Fears Behind 8 Popular Movie Monsters
Whether she's playing a drunk girl, an obnoxious co-worker or a reluctant would-be porn star, Eliza Skinner's performances are always 100% committed; authentic to the point of making you uncomfortable. Despite all that talent, she spends her spare time geeking out on her blog. We asked her to fill in for us this Saturday, so we could spend the day dyeing our underwear red in anticipation of the new Superman reboot. For some reason she agreed to do it.
Popular movies reflect society's fears. In the 1970s everyone was scared of the monolithic Soviets, so the bad guys in Star Wars were the evil Empire. In the late 1990s technophobes and Y2K gave us the Matrix.
Likewise, horror movie monsters reveal our true anxieties. I am qualified to do this because I have a BA in Media Studies and a blog, so, you know, I'm pretty much an expert in whatever I want. So let's see what you're REALLY afraid of when you're afraid of ...
The Monster: Zombies
What You're Really Scared Of: People
At first glance, modern zombie movies seem to be about a fear of disease - most of them feature the "infected" type of zombies, not the "crawled out of a grave to dance with Michael Jackson" type. But the really threatening thing about zombies isn't their crazy diseased eyeballs, it's their sheer numbers.
Likewise, any scientist will tell you our biggest problem isn't Bird Flu - it's overpopulation. Humans - especially stupid humans - are making way too many babies, and it's starting to get crowded in here. Instead of a desolate wasteland, the Apocalypse will look like the day after Thanksgiving at the mall. Which is exactly what most zombie movies look like: hordes of other goddamn people mindlessly swarming everywhere. Hordes of people are scary!
Stop having so many babies, dum-dums. They're just going to end up being zombies.
The Monster: Pennywise the Clown
What You're Really Scared Of: Perverts.
Pennywise is the razor-toothed clown terrorizing the children -- and later, their adult counterparts -- in Stephen King's It. I know what you're thinking: "Duh. Pennywise is scary because clowns are scary." Really -- you're scared of clowns? The guys that ride tiny bicycles and can't figure out the difference between water and confetti? The folks with the crazy hair and an inability to correctly size their shoes? BULLSHIT.
Stephen King made clowns scary, and he did it by turning one into a child molester. Clowns don't try to lure you away with candy so they can do awful things to your body -- child molesters do, and that is what makes Pennywise scary.
The Monster: Chucky
What You're Really Scared Of: Babies
It would be wrong to make a movie about the horror of giving birth to a deformed baby, because it would be wrong to admit that people are terrified of that. So instead, here's a movie about having a normal kid who gets a monster babydoll that just won't leave! But make no mistake, Chucky is your baby, and he is the most nightmarish version imaginable -- ugly, murderous, and sexual.
The idea of a child's toy totally deformed. Also, much like a real child, Chucky wants to take over his owner's life and kill his soul. Child's Play is the junction of scary baby/pregnancy movies (Rosemary's Baby, It's Alive, The Brood, etc.) and little monsters (Critters, Troll, Puppetmaster, etc.) all of which tap into fears about parenthood, childbirth, and -- if you are a man -- things relating to vaginas. Spooky vaginas!
The Monster: The Grudge
What You're Really Scared Of: Foreigners
This stringy-haired wet lady is hard to understand. She REALLY wants to talk -- she even uses the phone a few times -- but her speech sounds to us like "ching chong ching chong!" Oop, I mean it sounds like "ggguuuhuhgghghhh". The vulnerability associated with being submerged in a foreign culture can be scary, but it's hard to address without being racist.
The girl from The Grudge acts and sounds totally opposite from the way normal humans do -- she floats on ceilings and occasionally lives underwater! You can't understand a thing she says! And you can probably guess which way her vagina goes. The original Japanese version had more to do with viruses and disease, which to a US audience clearly isn't as scary as Japanese people.
The Monster: Vampires
What You're Really Scared Of: *Trick Question, Vampires are NOT Scary*
Don't lie. No one is scared of Vampires anymore. Vampires haven't been scary since 1994.
Nothing scary about this.
What was once a vicious blood sucking monster has become a romantic character conflicted because the strength of his kiss will surely kill the woman he wants to love. Anne Rice cut the balls off of Vampires. They are now imaginary gay boyfriends for goth girls.
The Monster: Leatherface
What You're Really Scared Of: Old Timey Executioners and Your Guilty Conscience
On the one hand, it's easy to find a reason to be scared of a retarded guy with a chainsaw. But there is an extra level of menace in Leatherface (or Michael Meyers, or Jason, or the guy from Jeepers Creepers) because he is wearing a mask. These guys are executioners, punishing their victims for their sins. Even when they have no apparent sins, they probably at least listen to rock music or want to have sex. Close enough!
The mask and the mental disability both cripple the ability to feel or communicate empathy. No matter what you do, Leatherface is not going to look sad, or happy, or anything -- he's not angry, he's just going to kill you. And deep down, you know the real reason you can't stop it is because you deserve it.
The Monster: Everything in Hellraiser
What You're Really Scared Of: Sex/Herpes
This whole movie is about how sex will drive you crazy -- either you'll get so into it that you travel to an alternate dimension looking for even more painful sex, or you'll get so addicted to one dude's zombie dick that you'll kill people just to put some skin back on it. More specifically, a lot of the monsters in Hellraiser look like personified stages of herpes.
You've got an open sore in the attic, eating people for parts, and then there's the angry genital blister running around trying to snatch a virgin. Sex is gruesome! P.S., Your parents are doing it.
The Monster: The Thing
What You're Really Scared Of: Messed up, Scary-ass Shit.
Sometimes there doesn't have to be a secret deeper level -- this is just fucking scary.
Check out more from Eliza at ElizaSkinner.net.