Monster Movies

The very first moving pictures may have scared people with stampeding horses and moving trains, but monsters soon became the subject of some of the best — and worst — movies ever made.

The 1922 classic Nosferatu, by F.W Murnau with Max Schreck as the vamprie is a truly monstrous interpretation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula story. The completely creepy vampire doesn’t fit into the contemporary landscape of sexy vampires, but it’s from a different time and place. I’ve never seen the 1920 German film The Golem, but now that I’m in a monster mode, I’m going to seek it out. The Golem is based on the classic Jewish story of a gigantic clay statue that comes to life to aid the Jews of medieval Prague.

One of the first monster movies that I remember watching on TV was THEM! It’s a 1954 film starring James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn and
James Arness. Set in New Mexico, the monsters are gigantic ants. With the post WWII nightmares about radiation, the prospect of ants being mutated into monstrous giants must have tapped into the fears of 1950s movie fans.

By the time I saw it on CREATURE FEATURES it was camp, but I still shivered when the queen ant and two males fly off at the end of the movie. I saw it again a few years ago and now it’s laugh-out-loud funny — with the notable exception of the sexism, which is simply boring. The woman scientist seems to be there only because her dad is scientist and to provide a love interest to an otherwise romance-free story.

Now that’s a little frightening.

Every year new monster movies are made. My completely unscientific assessment is that many of the new horror movies feature monsters of the humans who inspire fear because of their evil actions and extreme cruelty variety. There’s also the surge of romantic monsters — the Twilight vampires and werewolves, etc. I wonder what Bram Stoker would think of the sexy True Blood and teen cute Twilight descendants of his monster’s lineage.

MONSTER Birthday Day
I have not one, or two but three friends with February 2 birthdays!
Nancy, Shanna and Lew Happy Birthday!
Have a Monstrous Good Time.


  1. Beth M.

    As a kid I loved the movie THEM! I loved the fact that you didn’t even see the big ants until halfway through the movie – kinda felt sorry for them since it was not their fault that they became irradiated! Perfect timing (smart distribution) to fictionally show the human misuse of atomic radiation in the 1950’s! Anyway, I never viewed it as a horror flick just an entertaining movie of its genre like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Thing (John Carpenter’s version with Kurt Russell) – meaning I was never scared of the movie just loved that it kept me enthralled for a few hours and on the edge of my seat – I was entertained. Writing this makes me realize that I think I prefer my monster stories to have a hint of extra-terrestrial activity! None the less, paranoia is always a great addition to any monster story!

    • Candy

      Extra-terrestrial monsters…. umm… I wasn’t thinking along those line. Thanks! Another category of MONSTERS for these meditations. My dad heard the original broadcast of Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds. Talk about paranoia! My dad was a kid and he enjoyed it. Of course he heard it from the start — no confusion between reality and monsters from the sky on the news.

      As for the late entrance into the script of the gigantic atomic ants, it is one of those classic tension-building horror movie techniques that works really well. Like hearing a sound from another room — instant terror!

  2. I saw the original “The Thing from Another World” in the theater in 1951, and it scared the bejeezus out of this little 9-year-old. Couldn’t sleep for a week. Even the title card spooked me: “The Thing” was progressively burned in white through a black background, accompanied by an ominous orchestral score. Brrr.

    • Candy

      Monster-inspired nightmares is a topic really worth exploring. I had a terrible time shaking the feeling that some monster lived in the attic of my childhood house. Of course basement monsters are pretty bad, too. My parents tried hard to limit the movies that might give me nightmares but, thankfully, they failed. Writers need those roller coaster rides of imaginary monsters. Nine is pretty young for that full-out experience of The Thing. No wonder you didn’t sleep for a week. The question is, did you like it anyway?