(EDITOR’S NOTE: Last week we presented the first two responses to the January MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH - by Nick Cato and LL Soares – but we didn’t have a chance to post the last one, where Michael Arruda answered the question. Here it is now, concluding January’s answers)
MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH – January 2011
(Monstrous Questions provided by Michael Arruda)
THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:
What’s your favorite winter horror movie(s)?
Answer # 3 (of 3). This one is from MICHAEL ARRUDA:
My favorite winter horror movies?
My top two choices are the two THING movies. Who needs skiing when you can run through the snow while fighting off alien monsters from outer space! And before I go any further, I must warn you, that L.L. Soares and I pretty much picked the same movies. What’s up with that? Go figure!
I would place the John Carpenter remake, THE THING (1982) slightly ahead of the original Howard Hawk’s film THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951).
THE THING (1982) is one of my all-time favorite horror movies, period! But I do tend to watch it in the winter time, I guess because I’m freezing my butt off for weeks upon end, and so it’s fun to watch others go through the same misery. Only they get to have the added fun of fighting off a monster.
This Carpenter film is an all-out gore fest. It’s funny to think back now to 1982, when this film was panned by most critics as being too disgusting to be effective. Sure, it’s full of gross-out special effects, but they’re all alien-related. We’re not talking SAW material here. And no, it’s not as suspenseful or as masterfully directed as Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978), but it does tell a heck of a story, and it tells it well.
My only complaint? The ending. I know a lot of people like the open ended conclusion, but it didn’t work for me then, and it still doesn’t work for me today.
Second on my list would be the original THING movie, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951). This one has the suspense that the Carpenter version lacks. In fact, it’s one of the most suspenseful black and white science fiction/horror movies ever, right up there with THEM! (1954). It’s got great acting, a near perfect screenplay by Charles Lederer, based on the short story “Who Goes There?” By John W. Campbell Jr. The thing (heh, heh) I always remember about the dialogue in this movie is how quickly it’s spoken, not at all like a lot of the slow wooden dialogue from 1950s science fiction movies. It’s spoken with the speed of Marx Brothers’ banter.
Watching THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD late at night on a winter’s evening still creeps me out. The Thing (James Arness) is one creepy dude, and when he attacks the sled dogs in the snow, I still get the chills.
THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD was directed by Christian Nyby, although many believe it was shot mostly by producer Howard Hawks, which isn’t a stretch, since Hawks was a terrific director, and THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD is such a strong movie.
Next on my list is the Peter Cushing Hammer flick THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN (1957). This one is notable for being one of the few horror movies that Cushing starred in that was shot in black and white. For the most part, Cushing’s films were all in color.
Less a horror film than a thought-provoking science fiction piece, THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN is no less effective. It’s got great acting, a strong story, and lots and lots of snow. The abominable snowmen at the end of the film are also rather cool-looking. For years, the rumor existed that the close-ups of the snowmen’s eyes were actually Cushing’s eyes, but Cushing denied this in later interviews.
In terms of newer horror movies, I’d have to include 30 DAYS OF NIGHT (2007) on my list. An instant classic, this movie offers violent murderous vampires on the loose in snowy Alaska. What’s not to love?
To wrap things up, here’s an honorable mention list of some other classic horror movies best watched in winter: DRACULA–PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966), THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS (1967), DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968), FRANKENSTEIN–THE TRUE STORY (1973), THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953), and if you like silly giant monster movies, the very goofy yet entertaining Toho romp KING KONG ESCAPES (1968) contains numerous scenes in the ice and snow.
Stay warm everybody!