The reel monsters behind ‘Monsters Vs. Aliens”

Monsters Vs. Aliens
Coming out of the preview IMAX screening of “Monsters Vs. Aliens,” I truly was still stunned at the quality of the 3D effects it offered.

I mean this 3D effect was so thoroughly ingrained in the film that you actually saw denim in 3D. Yes, I’m saying you see the 3D effect of the texture of a pair of jeans (well, actually it was a jumpsuit, but you get the idea).

But for me, the 3D effect was just icing on the cake for a movie I was already excited about. You see, I’m more than a bit of a monster movie fan.

No, I’m not talking about Freddy Krueger and “Alien vs. Predator” monsters, I’m talking about black-and-white era monster movies: Legosi’s “Dracula,” Karloff’s “Frankenstein” and Rains’ “Invisible Man.”
Those are real monsters in my book. Psycho-killers in need of reconstructive surgery are not.
So before you dash off to see “Monsters Vs. Aliens,” you should understand the decades-old roots of the film:
Attack of the 50-Foot Woman

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (Ginormica)— In this 1958 film, which is actually shorter in running time than “Monsters Vs. Aliens,” a troubled woman encounters a crashed spaceship that ultimately leads to her to growing bigger than a bus. In all, “Attack” is a pretty sleazy film as monster movies go, because much of the plot centers around the 50-Foot Woman’s husband and his affair. The 1993 remake with Darryl Hannah goes for even more sleaze, and that was just a made-for-TV movie. (By the way: In “Monsters Vs. Aliens,” Ginormica turns out to be one of my favorite movie heroines since Ripley of “Alien” fame.)

Creature from the Black Lagoon (Missing Link)– Originally created as a 3D film, 1954’s “Creature from the Black Lagoon” recounts a jungle expedition into South America. There, the explorer-scientists run into the Gillman, whom they theorize is the missing link between water-dwellers and land-walkers. This film is a total fun in every way, and even OK for kids, since the Gillman’s deadly rampage comes off a bit comical to today’s audiences.

The Fly (Dr. Cockroach) — Another grisly, yet goofy-by-today’s-standards film, 1958’s “The Fly” stars Vincent Price, horror-actor extraordinare, in one of his more well-known roles. In the story, Price’s character helps his sister uncover the mystery of her scientist husband — who is slowly being turned into a half-human, half-bug monster. The “goofy” part starts when the scientist starts walking around with a giant-sized fly-head. Since Price’s character survived the ordeal, he returned for one of the two sequels.

The Blob (B.O.B.) — There are two strange things about 1958’s “The Blob”: First is that it starred Steve McQueen. Second is that it was set in Downingtown, Pa., not New York, Los Angeles or any other movie-friendly city. Probably the most watchable of all the bunch of “Monsters Vs. Aliens” inspirations, “The Blob” starts out with the discovery of a meteorite outside of town. The meteorite cracks open, and out comes an impossible to stop ameboa. A town-wide panic ensues until McQueen saves the day.

Mothra (Insectisaurus) — A 1961 import from Japan, “Mothra” has a story that holds up pretty well today, even if its special effects don’t. In the film, Mothra, a giant caterpillar, storms Japan after hatching from its super-sized egg. Along for the ride  are two fairies who have been kidnapped. It’s a very strange film by American standards since it mixes mysticism with radiation paranoia, but if you can handle the ugly rubber suits and subtitles (avoid the dubbed version at all costs), you might find an interesting film tucked in with the destruction of Tokyo.


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