Category: monsters

TV Club: Doctor Who, “The Brain of Morbius”

“The Brain Of Morbius” (season 13, episodes 17-20. Originally aired Jan. 3-Jan. 24, 1976)

The first thing we see in “The Brain Of Morbius” is a monster. That’s not exactly unusual on Doctor Who. It’s a man-sized insect, crawling out of the wreckage of its crashed spaceship and obviously wounded or even dying, across a rocky, fog-shrouded landscape. (Longtime viewers will recognize it as a Mutt from the Jon Pertwee-era serial “The Mutants,” which is also a clue that this creature, grotesque as it looks, isn’t the villain of the piece.) The thing that tells us we’re getting into some darker territory than usual is that this monster is being stalked by another monster. A hulking, hook-handed ogre looms out of the shadows and brutally murders the poor creature with a wicked-looking blade. The scream is horrible.

So where have we landed this time? Well, the planet itself is Karn, a desolate place near the Doctor’s homeworld of Gallifrey, and thus tied to his personal history in a way rarely seen on the show up to this point. We’ve also landed, in terms of our trip back and forth through the ages of Doctor Who, right in the middle of the early Fourth Doctor era, the time of the remarkable three-year partnership of producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes—what I like to think of as the “Sci-Fi Gothic” era, and for my money, the high point of Doctor Who. “The Brain Of Morbius,” credited to the pseudonym “Robin Bland” but written largely by Holmes (drastically revising Terrance Dicks’ original idea), is a gloriously lurid gem, and maybe the quintessential story of the Hinchcliffe era. And despite some plot holes, it’s also my single favorite Who story.

Originally published Aug. 21, 2011 on Read the complete article.

Lesson one: The aliens never, ever come in peace

‘Battle: Los Angeles’ is sure to round up some of our favorite alien-invasion cliches

Global warming and the occasional hurricane aside, the Earth is a pretty nice place to live. No wonder aliens are constantly trying to conquer it. The latest assault by hostile visitors from outer space comes in “Battle: Los Angeles,” debuting in theaters March 11.

If it seems a little familiar, well, it is — the basic template of alien-invasion stories has been in place for more than 100 years, ever since novelist H.G. Wells created the definitive model in 1898′s “War of the Worlds.” Here’s a look at the time-honored traditions — or, when done badly, the hoary cliches — you’ll find in nearly every alien-invasion movie.

Originally published Feb. 24, 2011 on Read the complete article.

When monsters attack! The movies’ best beasts before “Cloverfield”

CloverfieldSomething very big and very angry stalks the streets of New York City in Cloverfield, being released in theaters this week. The brainchild of producer J.J. Abrams (of the TV hit Lost and the upcoming Star Trek remake), Cloverfield aims to revitalize the giant-monster genre with a Blair Witch Project-style filming approach; the big beast’s victims film their flight from New York’s destruction with handheld video cameras.

But Cloverfield, of course, has some pretty big shoes to fill if it wants to be King of the Monsters: Giant monsters have been a cinema staple since at least 1925, when audiences thrilled to dinosaurs battling to the death in The Lost World.

If you want to get caught up on the genre, it’s not hard—400-foot fire-breathing monsters leave a trail that’s easy to follow. Here’s a few of our favorites.

Originally published on Jan. 14, 2008. Read the complete article.

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