At a time when my film knowledge was severely limited due to my age (being a four or five year old), the movies that brought joy to my life were “monster movies.” How I’m going to use this term might include some movies that you might go, “WTF?” The basic idea of the monster movie is Humans vs. Monster(s). Using the classic conflict in literary studies, I guess you can be more specific: Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Supernatural, or even, Man vs. Man (etc.).
Human beings. Monsters. Conflict.
I’m gonna go stream-of-conscious for the most part. There’s no structure. I’m gonna yak on movie after movie.
“Bring it on, mother f — BIEBER MY BALLS!”
Two of the most famous monsters in film history are brawling above. Despite being a shitty movie itself (King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)) (shitty because there’s no way King Kong is the same size as Gozilla), each monster was famous in their own right. I can’t remember the Godzilla movies specifically, but I remember seeing him attacking the shit out of buildings and shooting his atomic breath. When I saw King Kong (1933) on TV randomly, I was confused because I was half convinced that it was a historical documentary. Yes, 50% of my kiddie mind believed Skull Island existed and had these dinosaurs and this crazy ape.
Jaws (1975) was a movie that deeply affected me, even though I had only seen the opening sequence. My aunt was watching it on TV and I was about four. I hung around the living room and started to watch with her. However, she didn’t tell me to go away or anything. This is also the same Aunt who was watched the 1997 version of Lolita on TV with me nearby (she was aware that the movie had something messed up going on). So, Jaws made me scared of dark waters.
The next movie that shook up my world was Aliens (1986). I would like to mention that Alien (1979) was playing on TV too but I didn’t know that they were two different movies until I got older. Going back to Aliens, I only saw parts of it because my uncle (great family, eh?) told me to check out this bat-mobile. Batman Returns (1992) was my favorite movie (which was tied with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)), so I had to see anything to do with Batman. However, what I saw was not the bat-mobile. I knew it the moment the drop ship landed on LV-426. I especially knew it when the marines went to the nuclear-powered atmosphere processing station in their search for survivors.
This brings up memorable moment number one: when they find that cocooned colonist that begs to be killed. Then… CHEST BURST. My mind was spinning at this point. I think any sane child would have ran away but I was frozen in fear (what Jaws did to me with dark waters, Alien/Aliens did for me with chest-bursters). Then I guess the next memorable part was the marines losing their shit as the xenomorphs came rolling in from all directions. I don’t remember if it was the same time period or much later, the next obvious memorable moment is the final battle between Ripley in the cargo loader suit and the Queen xenomorph.
I find it funny when you revisit these movies when you’re older. Sure they’re still awesome but their special effects are outdated. But when I was a kid, it felt so real. No, it was real.
I don’t think I was traumatized too long because around this time, Jurassic Park (1993) was released and I was completely won over. It’s a shame that I never got to see it in movie theaters but being a kid, I didn’t know about theaters. We were poor growing up so Jumbo Video was the way to go back in the day. My dad rented Jurassic Park on laser disc and it was awesome on that crazy surround system we had. Again, my dad would rather spend his money on building a great home theater than go to a movie theater for only one sitting.
Eventually, we had a copy of the movie on VHS. The movie became my weekend movie for every weekend. I’ve seen that movie so many times and enjoyed it every single time. Except for the kitchen scene. I was too scared to watch it through (I physically ran away because I couldn’t handle the scary raptors). Looking back now, it’s probably the most thrilling scene in the whole movie. Now imagine if they went with the intended score.
So there you have it for part one. Next time will focus on the movies I saw in the Post-Jurassic Park days.