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Monsters - What Defines A Monster

By Expert Author: Philip Allen

The definition in the dictionary is not clear and uses 'monstrous' in some of the explanations - not very helpful really...
So I set out to find a better definition. "A person of inhuman cruelty or wickedness" yes, that sounds right, but wait, is everything that is inhuman (not human) therefore a 'Monster'? I don't believe so.
I would prefer to think of 'Monster' as horrific and terrifying. Where did those kinds of monsters go to, the monsters from my childhood and before? Darleks had me hiding behind the sofa even in the days of black & white TV - we didn't need guts and gore to scare the bejeezus out of us then, so how did the Masters of the Horror Genre manage to scare us so delightfully and absolutely rigid way back then?
I've come to the conclusion that we've become lazy over the years. We've allowed the film-makers to be our imagination and now we need greater extremes to catch our attention in much the same way as Nero did in the Colosseum in Rome when he held the Gladiator Games. After a while the audience became numb to the fights and deaths they witnessed day after day in the arena and so more horrific methods had to be used. More blood, more gore and more suffering was needed. Then came harsher methods of torture - even down to inventors coming up with devices to cook people alive in view of the blood-thirsty and blase audiences.
Was Nero a Monster because he invented and perpetuated these atrocities? You can bet your life he was!
Why are there no more truly terrifying movies these days?
Alfred Hitchcock didn't use buckets of blood to terrify his audience in 'Psycho'. He used suspense and the audience's imagination. He didn't have the fall-back of a smear of red across his cinema screen; it would have just been a different shade of grey on the Black and White movie. He also recognised and knew how to utilise a good storyline.
How many of us, I wonder, have gone to the cinema to see the newest and latest 'Horror-fest'- only to find it was just a blood-spattered hour and a half, packed to the gills with graphic scenes of tortured victims, snapped-off limbs and plucked out eyeballs - all in glorious (or 'Gory'ous) living colour. With no plot to support the movie and no substantial storyline, it ends up being another Bore-fest. The ludicrous characters just make you end the movie experience by imagining ways that you would have dispatched them and put them out of their acting misery. To finish off your evening's entertainment with an all-too convenient and highly implausible ending is again, one huge disappointment. The only 'Real' Horror in the cinema is the price of the popcorn and the idea that the movie you've just sat through (there's two hours of my life I'll never get back) only got onto the big screen because it had 'Names' in the credits.
I remember the 80s (no-one had better make reference to my age here) and three memorable movies were Halloween, Friday the Thirteenth and Poltergeist. Not overly-graphic but filled with suspense and moments that made you literally jump out of your skin!
Clowns under the bed are not scary? Are you freakin' kidding me?
Who needs buckets of blood when you have an imaginative audience?
Monsters... they're everywhere! Trust me.

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