I Do Movies Badly: Universal Monsters

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2 Responses

  1. FictionIsntReal says:

    I’m much more suspicious than Gavin of reading things into horror movies based on the time they were made. Countless people have written about how Invasion of the Body Snatchers is supposed to be about the Cold War, when the book’s author always insisted it was just a pulpy thriller and the director denied he added anything political to it. Similarly, I’ve read many people saw Cronenberg’s Fly is about AIDS when Cronenberg himself said it was inspired by his parents’ aging. And if film noir is supposed to be an indicator of how “unsettled” America was, when was America more settled than in the postwar era?

    The popularity of “torture porn” seemed rather brief. It was soon eclipsed by found footage a la “Paranormal Activity” and other supernatural horror, as typified by James Wan (director of the original Saw, along with the Insidious and The Conjuring films more recently).

    Is subversion an integral part of “camp”? It has often been remarked that the ideal camp is unintentional camp, which typically does not aim at subversion.

    I haven’t yet seen The Mummy, but the description doesn’t sound like Browning’s Dracula. Dracula isn’t woken up by anybody, he’s already awake when Renfield arrives (substituting for Jonathan Harker in the novel), and he arrives in London just because it seems like a worthwhile location rather than because of anyone specific there.

    • Jim says:

      I realize that what I’m about to say is quite similar to trying to prove a negative, but when it comes to how society has influenced/does influence art, I personally don’t believe it’s a matter of “if” but of “how much.” How could an artist escape from being influenced by the world around them especially when it comes to dramatic shifts in society and politics, even subconsciously? Christian Metz theorized that one of the reasons film is popular is due to its ability to be an imperfect mirror of reality.

      You even mention torture porn, which rose to prominence shortly after 9/11 and our focus shifted from monsters to people. You follow it up with found footage, which found prominence in a day and age where social media, technological inter-connectivity, and surveillance were all bubbling up into our consciousness.

      As for director intentions, yes, Cronenberg has said that The Fly (for him) was not inspired by the AIDS epidemic, but it was that parallel that allowed for many people to find relevance and resonance in the film. Just because he didn’t INTEND that, does that mean that the film is any less powerful or worthwhile? This leads to a larger question (that I will not delve into here) about just how much intention can and/or should factor into film analysis.

      Having just watched The Mummy, I can attest to how spiritually similar it is to Dracula (which I will talk more about in my next episode). I hope you listen to that episode and I hope the dialog continues!

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