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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Movies  |  Bad Movies  |  Why don't giant monster movies due that well in America anymore. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Why don't giant monster movies due that well in America anymore.  (Read 5124 times)
WingedSerpent
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« on: April 26, 2008, 01:19:23 PM »

I was reading Wikipedia's entry on Clverfield when I cam across this passage
Chad Hartigan of Exhibitor Relations Co. viewed the several issues with the potential of the film, including a lack of major stars, the underwhelming performance of Godzilla-style films in America, and the film's slated release in January, considered a "dumping ground for bad films

Now I don't have the actual numbers in front of me right now, but I'm pretty sure Cloverfiled wasn't a flop.  But looking back the giant monster movie genere is pretty dry right now-and has been in the states for a long time. 

The heyday of giant monsters was of course in the 1950's but after taht fewer and fewer were made.  There were still these types of movies being made in Japan and Britian.  Here we really had nothing.  And every time it seems it might have a movie to revive it with all the movie technology and money we have, the film is usually a failure.

King Kong  and the American Godzilla movie underperformed, but then again they was pretty high hyped.  Reign of Fire, Dragon Wars, Godzilla 2000-none really did a lot of business. Before then the only ones thiat might be considered sucessfull are the Jurassic Park films.  And that really depends on whether or not you consider them giant monster movies.  I know plenty of people who don't.

Did we get tired of the formula?  I would counter that we have many movies, and tv shows that are esentially the same and even the copycats are making money.

Do we simply think of them as stupid kids stuff.  I don't think the idea of a giant monster is neseccary any stranger than some other ideas some films have had.  And certainly many kaiju movies are aimed at kids.  But there are serious, dark ones for older auidences.  The origianl King Kong and Godzilla, Cloverfield, the Black Scorpion. 

Maybe this issue is how we deal with our fear and what we are afraid of.  In Japan, were giant monster movies are still being made.  (well, were being made-I haven't heard of anything new on the horizion)  they have had to deal with forces bigger than themselves.  Being on the Pacific rim, hey have to deal with more earthquakes and volcanoes than we do in the states.  Many Godzilla movies like to show Godzilla more as a force of nature rather than an animal.

I would like to see more of these movies being made, but I guess for now I have to settle for the late night reruns, and DVDs.  Not a bad experience, mind you, but I'm left think of what could be.
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« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2008, 03:54:58 PM »

Not to oversimplify things, but I think the problem is that recent giant monster movies sucked, both artistically and at the box office.  Hollywood will keep dusting off the formula every now and then, and as soon as there's a hit the copyists will come and we'll be knee deep in giant monster movies again.     

Cloverfield didn't do badly and proved there is still an audience for this kind of thing, but it wasn't the kind of runaway hit that will inspire a wave of imitators.
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« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2008, 10:40:18 PM »

I don't know if we consider them kids stuff.  Most people will automatically assume giant monster as a Godzilla type movie.  Even in the 50s and 60s, there was never a big number of these movies being made.  It doesn't help that most of the giant monster movies are Sci-Fi Channel original movie quality, either. 
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« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2008, 11:33:34 PM »

In my opinion, one of the best "giant monster" movies in the past decade or so (fun wise) is EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS.

I'm not sure how well it has done in the box office or rental sales.
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DistantJ
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2008, 05:17:03 AM »

I don't think it's so much that they don't perform so well in the US as it is that they don't really, well, exist so much. I mean there was the Godzilla "remake" but it was a bit too, well, it didn't really know if it was supposed to be a goofy movie or a serious one and it turned out pretty naff because of it, heh, and then, well, what else can anybody think of...? The only thing I seem to recall seeing giant monsters in these days is Doctor Who and it's spinoffs (particularly the end of the first season of Torchwood), and I suppose Lost, but that's pretty... different so probably doesn't count!

The whole Cloverfield thing is cool, but I'd love to see something with a huge, awesome looking monster (and not just an ape made bigger!) with today's production qualities, etc, where you can actually see it, and follow a story where they try to destroy it, etc...
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« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2008, 11:28:31 AM »

Mind you, I haven't seen Cloverfield- nor does it get my interest much- but I think America just doesn't know what to make of giant monster movies. Back in the 50's, it was a metaphor for an invading foreign power, so the monster was merely a physical extension of that fear. In the sixties and up until the late 70's, it got really hokey and cheesy (I'm inclined to call this the "Gammera Effect")- so during that time it was seen as kid's stuff. Toward the beginning of the eighties, there was an attempt- with both Kong and Godzilla- to make the monsters serious engines of destruction again, as a side effect of the mass disaster movies that were being made. This was more based on a fear of nature's forces that humans couldn't understand ad were frightened of. In the 90's, Asia got seriously into monster revivals, resurrecting not only Godzilla and co, but Gamera and even Yongary.... which ultimatly resulted into the Americanization of Godzilla- which flopped. The Japanese Gojira melted into a radioactive puddle to make way for an overhyped computer-generated iguana. I like to think it was because too many people who had no true appreciation for Godzilla were calling the shots. The blowback was the return of the semi-campy Godzilla in Japan. He looked badass, but his foes and fighting tactics were old-school camp. In true classic style, his last outing had him take on an army of monsters and a race of conquering aliens who just seem to want a big fight. Meanwhile, Kong got a retread in a decidedly darker version... but these monsters are both quite old, and few new concepts seem to be forthcoming. No reappearance of Reptilicus is on the horizon- though it would be hard to imagine a sequel or remake being shoddier than the original. No new version of the Amazing Colossal Man-perhaps due to touchy subject matter- though a thought-provoking remake along the lines of the Incredible Shrinking Man seems to just be crying for filming. Some people claim "The Host" is a worthy successor. It's a good movie to be sure, but it doesn't seem to fit the genre in my opinion. Maybe the monster is comparatively too small :P Ever ask yourself what makes a great giant monster movie?
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2008, 12:31:33 PM »

Ever ask yourself what makes a great giant monster movie?

That's a real interesting question with no real good answer.  I can enjoy a serious giant monster movie like Godzilla(54) and I can enjoy a campy one as well. 

Lets see what I can think of.
1.   A good interesting monster design. Or if its a normal looking animal, it needs to be executed well (King Kong) The exception here could be giant humans because they could talk, and better interact with other characters.
2.  Destruction of the city.  You can't have a giant monster movie without something getting destroyed. 
3.  Interesting characters.  But then again all movies should have them.

I don't know what else  I'd put in-but I do know what I'd leave out:
1.  Little kids that seem to know more about the monster that anyone else, and do not get in trouble for sneaking into governmet facilities, submarines, expeditions, etc.
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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2008, 12:52:26 PM »

You guys make some excellent points.  I'd only add that the 50's era (and earlier), the monster was not the point of the movie, but the reaction to it was.  It was the "stressor," much like "real" sci-fi is not about technical accuracy, etc.

Modern attempts at monster movies seem to have been about the monster.  It is its own point, and I think the story suffers for this.

Another good exception is LAKE PLACID.
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« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2008, 03:31:04 PM »

Whenever I feel like watching a giant monster movie, I grab one with a release date circa 1957.  The stuff from the 50s was much more fun than the modern stuff.  Give me THEM or 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH any day.
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2008, 03:31:35 PM »

Ulthar makes a good point. I could add that audiences today have a hard time seeing past technical inaccuracy to appreciate a good story. People don't suspend disbelief like they used to. A giant ant or a giant lizard, especially a nigh-invulnerable one trashing a city in a malicious manner, is a ridiculous premise on a number of levels. You have to get past that to enjoy it, which was easier to do in the 50s, when the average person didn't have a head full of technical trivia. Heck, you could play fast and loose with the science and come up with something far more entertaining than reality. It's not so easy today.

That is probably the best explanation for what Centropolis did to Godzilla. They based him on a real reptile, made him look and move like a lizard, and behave like a wild animal without a whole lot of personality. And they made it possible to kill him with missiles once he could be kept still long enough for somebody to aim. The result was a more plausible monster that completely missed the point of Godzilla. They saw Godzilla as a big lizard that wrecked things, and did that as well as they could. And yes, that was not the only reason the movie sucked.

Honestly, our culture, in general, just doesn't get giant monster movies.
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« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2008, 03:39:36 PM »

I have no data to back my theory up, so of course I'm gonna jump right in. I think part of the problem is that giant monster movies used to be fun. And with a few exceptions like Eight Legged Freaks and Lake Placid, most of what's come out in the past decade or so hasn't been fun. Cloverfield was not a fun movie. The Godzilla remake-imagining,eh kinda sorta. I don't know why this is so, it doesn't take much for a decent giant monster movie to work. I hate to go to the well to often but maybe because of all the money involved studio execs are getting too involved and messing things up because they are afraid they won't make enuff profit. Back in the old days maybe this wasn't such a problem. I mean look at what the production costs must have been for the Giant Claw or Deadly Mantis or even Tarantula. it would almost be impossible for them not to make money. They didn't cost a lot so the studios didn't worry so much and they let the film makers do their thing. Or maybe not, I dunno. Although if someone put out a good giant monster movie using old school effectsala The Giant Gila Monster, I'd probably check it out. I just want a fun movie.
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« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2008, 11:34:31 PM »

Quote
It doesn't help that most of the giant monster movies are Sci-Fi Channel original movie quality, either.

That was what I was thinking, virtually every giant monster movie I could think of was a sci-fi original. King Cobra, Boa, That one with the big robot killing machines, Black Hole even was kinda a GMM. Leave it to Sci-Fi to kill an entire genre of movies.
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« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2008, 02:37:00 AM »

I think it's interesting how the size of the monster can determine the "genre" of the movie, heheh, because we get a s**tload of monster movies (and damn, I love monster movies), but they're usually not "giant" as such.
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« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2008, 05:26:47 PM »

Cloverfield is an amazing collection of contradictions that I can't help recommending, but only if you have a large screen. It amazes me that so many people reacted so hatefully, while I've yet to hear any reason beyond annoyance at the characters and/or shaky camera effect...neither of which should have come as a surprise.

Even though it didn't level any cities, The Host was a GREAT  Thumbup movie.

After making 'Godzilla' a thin-skinned fireless lizard, I can't believe another giant(or even big) monster movie was ever made again...still p**sed about that one Hatred

This is, of course, is the heart of the matter; how do get both the hypercritical 30% and the hypoattentive 70% to fill the theatres more than a couple weeks in a row? 

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« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2008, 06:09:26 PM »

I think it's interesting how the size of the monster can determine the "genre" of the movie, heheh, because we get a s**tload of monster movies (and damn, I love monster movies), but they're usually not "giant" as such.

Well, certainly the trappings of a GIANT monster movie are going to be different the a normal(?) sized one.  It's not like Rodan is going to be hiding in someone's basment.  Or the Rhedasaururs isn't going to hide in the air ducts.  And there is also the TINY monster genere with Critters, Demonic Toys, and such.

This is something to think about as well.  AndyC metioned that these days people have a better understanding of Science so its harder to despend belief.   Another thing is that we think differently about our government now.  Many of the heroes were government officials in the 1950's movies.  It was either Them or It came from beneath the Sea, where the heroes of the movie were talking to survivors of the giant ant/octopus attack.  After lisitning to the man,he HEROES suggest that the man not be allowed to talk to anyone until the situation is resolved.  In 1950 they could still be the hero, if a simialr sceen played out in 2008 they would be seen as bad guys.  (This is one of the problems I had with the Men in Black movies) 

If The Amazing Colossal Man was made today, do you think his comrades and fellow officers would still be portrayed as concerend people trying to cure Glen-or people interested in using him as some sort of superweapon?

I don't know if that really affects the giant monster genere, but you certainly couldn't do the same story today as you could 50 years ago.
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