Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Calling all monsters!

I need a monster.

Not right away, but soon. Sometime this fall I will need to solidify my selections for the Special Topics in Film class I'm teaching next spring, and I don't know which monster to include.

It's an upper-level class focusing on portrayal of animals in film and I'd like to call it something like Romancing the Beast except I don't want to suggest the presence of Disney princesses. The class will focus on the varying roles animals play in films and what they suggests about culture and values and all that fun stuff. Here's my list of featured films so far:
Bringing up Baby: animals as catalysts for human romance
Whale Rider: animals as mythic carriers of communal spiritual values
Grizzly Man: animals as carnivores resisting human community

The thought of juxtaposing these three films fills me with inordinate glee, but I'm missing some important points on the human/animal relationship continuum. I need a hunt film, something with a Moby Dick vibe but not necessarily Moby Dick. I'm tempted to use Adaptation just because the hunt for a rare orchid plays so delightfully with the mythic hunt motif, but the only memorable animal is that alligator (who is, let's face it, a terrific alligator). So I'm still on the hunt (ha!) for a hunt film.

And then I need a monster--or an animal portrayed as a monster. I could go back to the original King Kong and look at the displacement of human monstrousness onto a mutant animal, or I could go the sci-fi succubus route with something like Alien, although I'd prefer films that students don't already know by heart. Or I could do something completely different. Monster films aren't my forte so I'm all at sea with the white whale on my tail--or perhaps I'm up the creek without a paddle and an alligator lurking just around the bend.

Either way, I need a lifeline! So drop a monster into the comment box and I'll do my best to keep him out of trouble.       


Anonymous said...

Prophecy (directed by John Frankenheimer), CUJO, or Alligator

Spanish prof said...

I saw it 15 years ago, so I don't know what it says about culture and human nature, but you may want to check out "Cat People" (1942), by Jacques Tourner. I also remember having watched, a long time ago, a surprisingly good adaptation of "The Raven" done by Roger Corman. Hope this helps.

Jacqueline M. said...

Monsters: "Legend" (Ridley Scott), "The Dark Crystal" (Jim Henson), "Blade" (Stephen Norrington), "An American Werewolf in London" (John Landis), "The Thing" (John Carpenter)

Animals: "Fantastic Mr. Fox" (Wes Anderson), "Jaws" (Steven Spielberg), "Greystoke" (Hugh Hudson), "The Adventures of Chatran" (Kon Ichikawa), "Fly Away Home" (Carroll Ballard)

Just some preliminary suggestions. Of course, I will ALWAYS vote for "Alien" and might also suggest "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," but only because it's my favorite film of all time. "Whale Rider" is magnificent as well...oh, I miss Post-Colonial Lit. You'll also be happy to know I've just watched "The Piano" in its entirety and am smitten. A new favorite.

Andrea said...

Hound of the Baskervilles?

Are there any Sesame Street movies? Because...I think...Big Bird is...a monster.

Bev said...

These are terrific suggestions. I've been having nightmares about hummingbirds trapped in the house (and why hasn't anyone made that plot into a horror flick?) so I'm tempted to do a bird-themed unit: Hitchcock's The Birds plus Corman's Raven plus something with Big could happen. In your dreams.