October 19, 2020

Rough Cut Roundup - October 2020

Rough Cut Roundup is a monthly Q&A series featuring the Department of Film & Media Arts community. 

What is your favorite movie monster? 

Matthew Bettencourt, MFA Student

Resolution (2012) might not be a monster movie in the traditional sense, but it nonetheless features a monstrous presence that lurks in every scene. Made on a shoestring budget, it completely deconstructs the horror genre and takes the story in directions I've never seen before. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead can do no wrong in my estimation. Their incredible film The Endless (2017) is set in the same universe as Resolution. Those two films make for a cerebral and genuinely creepy double feature.  

Craig Caldwell, Professor

I have become increasingly interested in new Asian films and their audience responses. A highly popular Korean film (that recently generated a sequel) takes place on a Train to Busan (2016) as a zombie apocalypse breaks out. This film employs Korean stereotypes, but since I am not familiar with these clichés, it kept me guessing at the relationships until they are revealed by the end of the film. By the end, you know where the film is going, but it is still a good ride. The other movie is the #1 box office film in China last year, the animated film Ne Zha (2019). It uses Chinese mythology as the subject matter (highly popular), similar to our figures from Greek Mythology. Again, I was not familiar with the characters’ types, which would have helped because an intrinsic part of the entertainment value was how the stereotypes were flipped during the film's arc. Since it generated $400 million in China alone, I have a ways to go in understanding Eastern versus Western storytelling in film. What comes next after Aristotelian vs. Hero’s Journey in storytelling?

Lien Fan Shen, Associate Professor

No-face in Spirited Away (2001). If you don’t know who this cute guy is, you’ve missed a lot in life.

Kevin Hanson, Associate Professor

Gort. Well, he’s not really a monster, more a cosmic policeman come to visit and warn about the consequences of our behavior. We need him now. He appears with the very suave Michael Rennie in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).

Paula Lee, Program Manager

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) is my favorite monster movie.

Chris Lippard, Associate Professor

Totoro? 

from My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Emelie Mahdavian, Producer-in-Residence

The Thing. 

from The Thing (1982) 

Dominic Martella, MFA Student

Belial Bradley from Frank Henenlotter’s Basket Case trilogy is the most lovable mutant in cinema history! 

Merritt Mecham, Program Assistant

I’m admittedly more partial to ghosts than monsters, so I’ll go with something in between: the titular Candyman as portrayed by Tony Todd in the 1992 film. This urban gothic story is set in the Cabrini-Green housing projects in Chicago, and the Candyman’s tortured existence is indicative of the lasting wounds of slavery. Is he just an urban legend, or has this hook-handed man been made immortal by the hive of bees that live in his ribcage?

Andrew Patrick Nelson, Chair and Associate Professor

My favorite movie monster is Michael Myers, especially as depicted in the original Halloween (1978), where the character is billed as “The Shape." Though unquestionably human, there is still something otherworldly about Myers. His improbable physical strength. His slow, stalking gait. The eerie elegance with which he slaughters his prey. And, most importantly, his featureless, black-eyed mask, which serves as a mirror that projects the audiences’ unconscious fears back at them.

Steve Pecchia-Bekkum, Assistant Professor (Lecturer)

John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), because everyone could be the monster.

Parker Rawlins, MFA Student

With so many iconic monsters to choose from, it’s hard to narrow in on just one. If I had to pick though, I’d have to go with Count Orlok from F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922). The horrific make-up designed by Albin Grau coupled with actor Max Schrek’s otherworldly performance add up to one of horror cinema’s most iconic creations. While other elements of the film could be argued as being dated by modern standards, the titular vampire himself has remained fittingly timeless, and claims the top spot for my personal favorite movie monster.

Sarah Sinwell, Assistant Professor

My favorite movie monsters are the Skeksis from Jim Henson and Frank Oz's The Dark Crystal (1982), especially the Chamberlain. I loved the 2019 Netflix prequel series as well. I still find them all super creepy!

Connie Wilkerson, Associate Professor

The Balrog out of The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). Awesome!