Sunday, June 5, 2011

Healthy Monsters

Although it is rarely noted, movie monsters typically have exceptional health. You would think that their bad habits--killing people, drinking blood, getting set on fire, living in dank places--would undermine their health, but they are usually more active and resilient than a high school athlete.

There is a reason for this. The horror movie monster, or deformed destructive being (DDB), is above all a being. To represent being, it helps if the DDB has certain traits, such as strength, immortality, and sexual aggressiveness, that together make him seem more alive--more real, energetic, and existent--than his victims. Health is one of these traits. Not all DDBs have it, but many do.

In a post back in March, I listed my top ten horror films. Herewith, an examination of the physical health of the DDBs in these movies:

1. Bride of Frankenstein. The Frankenstein monster takes a gunshot to the arm early in the film. Though it is never treated, he seems unhampered by it throughout the film.
2. Night of the Living Dead. Yes, the zombies are slow and shambling, but they are remarkably spry for being dead. Nothing stops them except a blow to the brain.
3. The Exorcist. Though the demon undermines the health of the possessed girl Regan, the demon himself seems to survive anything, including being punched out by boxing priest Fr. Karras.
4. King Kong. He is hale enough to break out of chrome steel restraints, tear apart an el, and climb 102 stories--all in one night.
5. Jaws. Fire as many harpoons-with-barrels into him as you like. The shark just keeps swimming.
6. Psycho. Though physically weak for a DDB, Norman Bates can maintain a motel all by himself, apparently without ever taking a sick day.
7. The Fly. Despite having what first appears to be a form of cancer, Seth Brundle is eventually healthy enough to be climbing ceilings and crashing through a window without suffering any glass punctures.
8. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. You would think their cannibalistic diet would infect them with prions or other nasty pathogens. But the family seems to be doing quite well, although the grandfather does appear prematurely mummified.
9. Halloween. No matter how many times you stab Michael Myers, he won't stay dead. That's a healthy constitution.

10. The Shining. Aside from his alcoholism, Jack Torrance seems in good shape. He does freeze to death at the end, but he leads his family on a vigorous chase until then.

George Ochoa
Deformed and Destructive Beings: The Purpose of Horror Films

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