Where did the Hollywood monsters go?

14 Feb
Still from Nosferatu

Don’t panic! He’s only delivering a box of Milk Tray.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, vampires were widely believed to look like this, or this, or even this. Far from being nice, they were the kind of creatures you would not wish to bump into in a dark alley, and you certainly wouldn’t have wanted to wake up to discover one had crept into your bedroom because he wished to be your boyfriend. Then a few years ago, someone decided it would be far better if, instead of being amoral, bloodsucking creatures of the night, vampires were emos, who sparkled – how scary is that?! Okay, not very.

I have learnt to live with this. If Hollywood had decided vampires should be about as scary as an English Lit. student with a bad case of unrequited love, that was okay, because in other parts of the world film makers were producing such films as Let the Right One In, which is both touching and disturbing. Meanwhile, television (surprisingly) does a great job of supplying more traditional horror options*. But now, this apparent quest to make completely non-menacing movie monsters has gone a step further.

Warm Bodies is a love story about the relationship between a zombie and a living person. Yes, that’s right: a zombie who wants to win your heart not eat your brains. Bless. The film has a pretty good rating on the IMDB, maybe it’s great. I don’t know. I won’t be watching because it’s just wronger than a very wrong thing indeed. This is a zombie, would you want to snog him?

What’s next? A werewolf film that features a character who, every full moon, turns into a cocker spaniel who sits in front of the fire licking his bum? And who might be a bit grouchy, but wouldn’t dream of ripping anyone’s throat out ’cause he prefers cuddles. Or a film about a poltergeist who does the housework, and organises the home owner’s book collection according to the Dewey Decimal System?

While I appreciate the idea of subverting a genre – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman do this brilliantly in Good Omens –  it is annoying that this is being done at the expense of more serious films that would appeal to genuine horror fans. Of course, those more serious films are being made, just no longer in Hollywood, which is sad because the horror film industry there was once vibrant and ground-breaking. However, now it seems to be focussing on horror for people who don’t actually like horror, and would really prefer a nice rom-com starring Jennifer Aniston. Maybe, that will be next on the agenda: a funny, heart-warming movie starring Jenn as a succubus who just wants to find Mr Right …

* I mean, Being Human’s Mitchell versus Sparkly Twilight Boy? There is only going to be one winner. No?

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