Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Monolith Monsters

One of the best things about being a parent is sharing things that you loved when you were your child's age. Now that my daughter is 6, that means I've been sharing comic books and lightly scary movies like Godzilla and The Incredible Shrinking Man. With Halloween just around the corner we're trying to get into the holiday spirit by cramming in as many holiday appropriate films as possible. Our latest pick was, as stated yesterday, The Monolith Monsters. Below is the trailer again, in case you missed it.

The Monolith Monsters is unlikely to be considered essential viewing by any but the most devoted of classic horror fans, yet it perfectly fits the criteria I've laid out for myself concerning my ongoing cinematic education. It also dovetails quite nicely with my daughter's burgeoning interest in scary movies. Of course, at this age I'm not about to show her anything too extreme or gory, and those old black and white monster flicks are about the perfect speed. That's fine by me, as it gives me an excuse to flesh out my knowledge of horror films from the pre-sixties. I may have seen more black and white horror and sci-fi than most people my age, but there's still a ton out there left to see. So, with snacks in hand we sat down on the couch to watch The Monolith Monsters while mom cross-stitched next to us. A portrait of the middle class family.

It turns out The Monolith Monsters was a pretty good choice for the night's entertainment. There's nothing in the film that would be considered scary by a modern audience, but it still has an impressive sense of suspense and a pretty large scale. We're shown pretty early on just how the titular space rocks will become a threat, though it takes a good chunk of the movie for the heroes to figure it out. In the interim we watch as the intrepid scientist and his best gal(know what I love about these films? The way scientists are treated as romantic leads and men of action) try to figure out why people are being found turned to stone and surrounded by shiny black rocks.

The reason? It turns out those space rocks can draw the moisture, specifically the silica, out of people and use it to grow. The growth is limited only by the amount of water available. The rocks will continue to grow until they are standing tall with the nearby mountains and they topple under their own weight, only to start over again as the individual pieces begin to draw moisture from whatever source is nearby. The science behind this is, of course, ridiculous, but it's treated believably by the movie to the point that you don't really question it. It also helps that the rock effects are, albeit simple, very cool looking, and the film sets a pretty good pace.

As I said, nothing in the film is very scary, but there is suspense. The scene where the scientist figures out how the rocks operate, and suddenly realizes there's a rainstorm raging outside, is particularly well done. Above all, the movie is fun. It was a great way to spend the evening, under a blanket, on the couch, sharing snacks and scares with my daughter.

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