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Monster Bites - Beast Wars

KING KONG (1933)

With so much popular culture surrounding a film like this it's hard to really break it down in an interesting fashion. There have been multiple remakes, films made in Japan and Britain, and dozens of other thinly veiled copies in all forms of media. But this is still a classic monster movie after all so it's got to be discussed. The most intriguing part of all this is how much of the story is often only half remembered. It's about beauty and the beast right? There's a sentimental element to all this somewhere in the memory of most people. King Kong is a loveable prisoner of circumstance, doomed because of animal infatuation. But it has more in common with the 1930s horror film trend than it first appears.

Monster Bites - Dino-mation

THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953)

There's something incredibly enticing about a hyperbolic movie title, but I suppose that's the whole point. It's never just 'Monster from the Sea' or 'Monster from Planet Venus,' there has to be something overly grandiose about it. In this case changing the original title from the short story title The Fog Horn certainly does the trick for me. The film starts as it means to go on when the name comes shooting out of a whirlpool. It's flashy and dramatic, and so is the rest of the feature. It's a sci-fi story without much time being wasted for once, despite the obvious genre tropes being present and correct. In some ways it started a number of these clich├ęs, but it certainly remains one of the best examples of the genre.

Monster Bites - Beast From Space

20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957)

It's interesting to consider when the films of Ray Harryhausen started to feel the most like they belonged to him in terms of artistic style. Maybe it was right at the start with Mighty Joe Young. It certainly has a lot of personality and the technical wizardry is obvious. Perhaps the subsequent creature feature The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms is more your sort of thing. But despite their strengths the former feels like another Kong retread and the latter is too reptilian to have much charm. As a result I'd have to choose this later story idea, The Giant Ymir. Combing everything that came before in terms of monster pathos and sci-fi storytelling it's one last hurrah for the black and white era. A send-off before the Technicolor fantasies arrived.

Review Roundup - The Old Gods

GODZILLA VS. KONG (2021)

At this point it's hard to get excited about a series like this when it's all so heavily cribbed from past ideas. The original King Kong vs. Godzilla got by purely on nonsensical monster battles and a story that existed to parody the world of advertising. Here we're simply reaching the zenith of another extended universe idea that is missing the point. However there is some hope on the horizon with a story that relies on fun instead of doomsday cataclysms, giving the monsters personality again instead of just misplaced religious grandeur. The results never reach the eclectic style of Kong: Skull Island but they never plunge into the migraine inducing destruction of 2019's King of the Monsters. It's somewhere in between so your mileage may vary.

Horror Bites - Balls of Fury

CRITTERS (1986)

There have always been comparisons made between this and Joe Dante's Gremlins, and it's easy to see why. Both are horror comedy creature movies with a twisted sense of humour and a bunch of titular puppets on the rampage. Interestingly the makers refuted this and said it was written prior to its release. Which is sometimes the case with production periods overlapping and the release dates making it look like someone is copying. But there are some key differences and while the holiday favourite is clearly a supernatural adventure, this is pure science fiction schlock. Many of the funniest moments come courtesy of the intergalactic mercenaries sent out to stop the monsters, since their methods are often incompetent and excessive in equal measures.