Here’s your motivation: You’re lost! You’re angry, wandering through a hellscape of slasher flicks and torture porn and random demons that show up for no reason. Everything seems derivative and repetitive. You’re on a circular path you can’t deviate from. Hungry for originality, hunted by fat, greedy studios who have manipulated you for eons, you stumble, at last, upon a place of refuge. Friends along the way told you about it (the fisherman, the old woman clutching her purse, the young mother and her crying baby) and you’ve finally found it. But inside, there is no warmth, no sustenance, no creature comforts. There are intimations of violence. There’s a whiff of decay. You breathe in the terror of over a hundred years of legends and lore, your mind whirling with questions, but in the end you come upon a blank wall. You’re left with only yourself, and your fear of what may be behind you.
Dog Soldiers is feminist.
Hear me out.
In his 2002 horror film, writer-director Neil Marshall (who is currently helming the Hellboy reboot) has men dealing with their identities in the most masculine of realms, the primitive woods. Over the course of the movie’s 105-minute runtime, a ho-hum military exercise turns into a balls-to-the-wall fight wherein multiple elements of male identity are exposed to the moonlight. In that exposure, some of those gendered elements become monstrous on-screen and ruminate on what it means to be a man.
The nature of motherhood presents fertile ground of fears for horror to explore. There are countless genre movies that explore the horrors of giving birth, of child-rearing, of maternal sacrifice, and simply how being a mother can affect one’s sanity. Which means that when it comes to celebrating Mother’s Day, there’s no shortage of horror movies to honor the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to be a mom. The most obvious selections focus on evil mothers, protective mothers, or benign moms struggling with their evil kid. But no franchise has managed to explore every corner of motherhood quite like the Alien franchise. From the philosophical to the traditional, from conception to the stresses of raising a child (or monster), to the very definition of what motherhood is, the entire catalog of Alien films has captured the complexities of motherhood in way that’s wholly unique. For this Mother’s Day, we’re paying respects to Ellen Ripley, the Queen Mother, and mothers everywhere by looking back at the maternal core of this series.
The Other transcending oceans and borders is a concept that is commonly explored in fiction, working particularly well when engendered by the monsters of the horror genre. Though The Other exists in so many places, the way the anxieties and perceptions of them are presented in film can vary drastically from region to region. Take Germany’s Nosferatu, for instance, and 1931’s Dracula from the United States. Both films are loose adaptations of the same novel, but the Count is presented as an alien-like deformity in one, and a handsome, mesmerizing character in the other. Because of this, I wanted to travel across the world to Sweden through this week’s film to determine the ways in which presentations of The Other in Let the Right One In differ from what I’m used to in American vampire fiction. The film reflects the general attitudes held by the society in which it was produced and, with so much of its content being undeniably queer, this is especially true in regard to issues of gender and sexuality.
Long is the list of science-fiction mediated texts that deals with social issues, especially race. Vic Morrow’s character was forced to confront his bigotry in Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) and the shift of social power that was the authority of Black folks as their integrity and compassion was tested for the mercy of whites in one of Ray Bradbury’s short stories in Illustrated Man, first published in 1951. The vast possibilities for what this genre allows is the reason so many of us love it. It keeps stories fresh with its ‘anything goes’ ideology.