Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The soul of Frankenstein

I don't know if anyone has seen the movie FEAST, a direct-to-video gorefest starring Henry Rollins and directed by John Gulager, but it's actually pretty good for what it is - a gorefest. Basically, some people are trapped in a bar in some desert town in the midwest and are forced to fight for their lives against some inexplicable monsters who like to eat humans. There are also a couple of sequels, each one more bizarre than the last. The monsters are pretty convincing, the victims are pretty convincing, everything is pretty convincing.
But there's one thing that always bugs me about most modern horror movies like FEAST - there's no soul. I mean, sure, you get to see the humans fighting off the monsters while trying to maintain their humanity and hopefully win out in the end, but beyond that there's - well, nothing.
Here's an example. Frankenstein creates a monster. The monster comes to life, decides he wants to explore the world, and goes out in search of knowledge. Unfortunately, he doesn't look so hot and the townspeople misunderstand his intentions and ultimately come against him. The monster then goes on a rampage, causing even more misunderstanding and more misery.
In the meantime, we are feeling sorry for the monster, because, after all, did we not create him in the first place? There is some sympathy there, because we know that down inside, the monster doesn't see himself as a monster - he sees himself as a human.
I feel no sympathy for the monsters in FEAST - they're just monsters, one-dimensional and soulless. They simply kill and do...well, other things. The Frankenstein monster killed, too, but we also felt pity for him when he was being relentlessly hunted by angry villagers with torches and pitchfoks. Even though he couldn't talk, he was multi-dimensional and we could empathize with him.
How do you empathize with something that does nothing but kill? Think about other monsters like Dracula, or the Mummy, or the Wolfman, or the Creature from the Black Lagoon, or even Godzilla. We could empathize with all of these characters because we know that somewhere inside of them is a misunderstood being driven by circumstances beyond their control to do what they do.
That's the same way I wrote my book, DIABLERO. My monster is not just a killing machine - he has a heart and a soul and a battle going on inside that all of us as humans also have - the battle between good and evil.
That's why I like the classic monsters - the Mummy, the Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein - it seems like the monsters of today have lost their souls and have nothing to offer in the way of enlightenment, only entertainment.

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