Rubber Monsters or "Over There, That’s Just A Guy In A Suit"

There’s a lot of things I miss in current horror movies.  Originality being one of them.  When the slasher craze came along things got repetitive but filmmakers found a way to make the kills unique or develop their franchise baddie a bit more.  Now it seems they mostly return to the well in order to “update” something that worked to some degree of success or to “fix” something that didn’t get the fair shake it deserved the first time around.  Now don’t get me wrong I think sometimes remakes work.  Look at Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN.  Before you start bitching, can you deny he took the basic premise and made it entirely his own leaving his indelible stamp on the film and the franchise?  Love it or hate it HALLOWEEN is still getting talked about.  Some are good, some are decent, unfortunately many of them fall into the same category as Gus Van Sant’s PSYCHO. My only real gripe is if you use established films do something new with the material like SILENT NIGHT.  That was fairly fun.

Another thing I miss are rubber monsters.  I really miss rubber monsters.  It could be a suit like Godzilla or it could be a rubber brain and spinal column on a string like the fiends.  If you have a rubber monster in a movie you have to really get creative to make it work.  Look at GODZILLA, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, THEM, FIEND WITHOUT A FACE, BLOOD BEACH, SLITHIS, ZAAT!, DON’T LET THE RIVER MONSTER GET YOU!  and any number of others.  Some newer flicks include FEAST trilogy, MONSTER FROM BIKINI BEACH and HYPOTHERMIA.  MONSTER FROM BIKINI BEACH was a bit self aware but not too much so and they were aware of their limitations but went all out in their presentation.  It had no name stars, no budget and garage shop effects.  It was a fun flick.  Then you have HYPOTHERMIA which had a big name star, decent budget, good effects, and the monster even looked kind of cool.  The movie sucked ass.  

It takes some brass balls to put a guy in a rubber (plastic, foam, whatever) suit and hang your film on that.  Even from the reveal folks know that’s someone in a fucking rubber suit but the good ones don’t let that hobble their film.  Now with your latex centerpiece in play-it doesn’t matter if it was $2000 or $20-you have to construct a convincing reality in which your bouncy badass can wreak some havoc.  Which GODZILLA do you prefer? Would you rather see Haruo Nakajima hopping up and down or the CGI still birth that Sony offered up?  I would like to imagine many would go for the guy in the suit. You also have to be aces on your model making or forced perspective shooting because if you don’t have someone like Kevin Peter Hall or Tyler Mane then your neoprene nemesis will be between five and six feet tall.  Hope Peter Dinklage is free to shoulder the flick.  

Anyone remember the docu-drama LEGEND FROM BOGGY CREEK or the horror flicks NIGHT OF THE DEMON (both of ’em!), SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED, DEAR GOD NO! hell even HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS?  Sascratch is just someone conned in to putting on a tight/too big, stinking, hot, heavy fucking suit and told to run around waving his arms and grabbing people.  What makes it work? Bigfoot is usually portrayed as living in the wild.  The woods or the mountains or somewhere more primitive than Main Street or Elm Street.  A lot of folks are afraid of the wilderness because it is an unknown quantity.  It’s also active at night in a lot of these flicks.  I don’t think you, my dear readers, need to be reminded of the effectiveness of exploiting our primitive fear of the dark.  It works well enough but to put something tangible and

roughly humanoid in shape helps amplify the effect.  

I’ve read some threads concerning pitting CGI against rubber suits, invariably it comes up in a lot of kaiju boards, and in that biased of a setting of course rubber suits win out more often than not.  In that regard I have to agree.  In fact in most cases I have to go with the rubber suit.  Practical effects and make-up keep filmmakers honest.  Some will over rely on CGI.  Potentially after using it for a monster then its so easy to use for muzzle flashes and blood it just looks like shit.  But that’s a slippery slope argument and as skeptical as my ass is when it comes to folks passing up the easy solution I have faith that a good mix can be found.  Next time something looks cheesy just remember that whoever is in that suit is sweating their ass off to entertain you.  

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