The other day, I watched Gwoemul, or The Host (though that name doesn’t conjure up the right image at all), a 2006 South Korean film. Normally I don’t like horror movies; however, this wasn’t really what I’d call horror at all. Rather, it’s a modern version of a good, old-fashioned monster movie.
In the grand tradition of classic science fiction, the monster is not the sole focus; there’s biting social and political commentary that lingers after the movie is over. It got me thinking about those other movies and TV shows that have sought to make a statement while scaring the pants off us. Here’s just a few:
Them! -Atomic testing in New Mexico leads to giant mutated ants. There’s a pretty famous line in the movie about entering the atomic age, but I like this one better, as it pretty much sums up any of these movies: “We haven’t seen the end of them. We’ve only had a close view of the beginning of what may be the end of us.”
Gojira -This original Godzilla movie took inspiration from actual nuclear American testing that caused casualties, not to mention Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They get the terror of the bomb and a giant prehistoric monster to boot.
War of the Worlds (2005) – Steven Spielberg may have saddled Tom Cruise with children, but his version makes up for it by showing us an ugly side of human nature.
Starship Troopers – Is the message of this movie entirely different from the novel it was loosely based upon? Maybe! But it sends its own messages about the military, propaganda and war.
Jurassic Park – Someone thought it would be a good idea to bring back dinosaurs – even the gigantic, poisonous or wickedly intelligent carnivores. Punishment commencing in three, two…
Twilight Zone – There’s a dimension, not only of sight and sound, but of mind. And in that dimension, we are get the creepy, disturbing and thought-provoking – all in one half-hour. A manipulation of time and space, to be sure.
Obviously I’ve left out tons. What are some of your favorites? Or do you prefer commentary take a back seat to entertainment?