We’ve tackled how to introduce someone into the mindset of horror, easing them in with films that have horror flavors but aren’t a nonstop scarefest. Then, I’ve written about some of the basic films that set up a solid foundation and appreciation for what the horror genre has to offer, ensuring that there is a bit of humor and wonder thrown in. Now, as of today, we’re officially getting into true horror films, ones that are important for any horror fan as they lay the groundwork for everything that we enjoy to this day.
For this edition of How To Start Getting Into Horror, we’re going to enter the “monster genre”, facing those iconic villains that have stayed with us throughout cinematic history. These films have incredible importance because they, or some variation of their entity, have remained with us with each generation. Something about these creatures haunt us, remaining in the shadows of our nightmares, hiding under our beds, their gaunt fingers emerging from our closet door.
Let’s venture on, shall we?
When it comes to movies like this, you gotta start with the classic Universal Monsters, such as Dracula, The Mummy, The Phantom Of The Opera, Frankenstein, etc… Remember, in the last edition I recommended that aspiring horror fans watch The Monster Squad. Now they can understand where these famous villains came from and why they each seem to have their own flavored cereal.
When looking at Dracula, it opens up the doors for all vampire films. Think of showing someone Bram Stoker’s Dracula later on to showcase how award-winning actors, such as Anthony Hopkins and Gary Oldman, participate in the genre. Or maybe showing them Near Dark, which is an insanely clever and entertaining vampire film that never once uses the word “vampire”. And it also leads to films such as The Lost Boys and Fright Night, each a classic in their own way.
For The Phantom Of The Opera, this is a way to explain that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical took a great deal of inspiration not only from the original novel but also from the film and its events. While I’m not particularly a fan of musicals, those who are might be very interested to see the origins or one of musical theater’s most famous productions.
Frankenstein is tied with Dracula as perhaps the most famous movie monster ever created, although I will incur the wrath of all commenters if I don’t state that it’s actually Frankenstein’s monster that is the “star”. It’s the ultimate story of feeling and being different, reviled and hated for something that was never in your control to begin with, a theme that has resonated in countless renditions of this story.
Tackling the classic monsters also allows for the viewing and appreciation of such films as An American Werewolf In London, Dog Soldiers, Blade, Swamp Thing, and more. It’s hard to find monster-driven horror films that don’t owe a lot of themselves to these classics and they should be honored for all that they have given.