Cinepub


Five Terrifying Monsters From My Childhood by Jamie

Childhood is generally a magical time filled with wonder and amazement but it is also a horrific nightmare filled with monsters. Many of these evil creatures come from watching film and they leave a lasting impression that lingers with us for the rest of our lives, lurking at all times in the back of our mind. This then is a list of some of those things which still haunt my brain to this very day. Warning: Here Be Spoilers

5. Greys (Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, The X-Files, countless other things)

Whether you believe that they actually exist or not, and personally I don’t, there is something undeniably creepy about the alien species generally referred to as the Greys. There’s something about their huge black eyes and largely feature-less face that causes some kind of primal fear. I think it’s something to do with the fact that they seem completely emotionless and you can’t tell what they are thinking. There’s also the way that they are often depicted as moving in films.

Take the way that the ‘leader’ from Close Encounters moves. It‘s got a disturbing weirdness to it‘s movement, probably something to do with the limitations of the special effects but still. In other media they aren’t portrayed as anything less than terrifying, generally performing some kind of medical procedure, never saying a word just carrying out their tasks in an almost deliberate, robotic fashion.

Then there’s a film called Alien Abduction: The McPherson Tape. It’s a hand-held, Blair Witch style film that tells the tale of a family practically held hostage within their own home by some Greys that they‘ve managed to piss off. It’s cheesy as fuck but when I was younger it used to terrify me, particularly the last scene which was just creepy as fuck. Oh, and there’s also an interview with a British musician who is an alleged abductee (Actually just an actor portraying the role to try and keep up the premise that the video is real found footage) who uses the phrase ‘Big Headed Wankers’ which used to amuse me and my brothers to no end. It’s actually on YouTube, part one can be found here.

4. The Wheelers (Return To Oz)

The Wheelers are like a monstrous amalgamation of people, bicycles and hyenas. They hunt their prey on the wheels that they have in place of hands and feet, laughing like maniacs as they do so. Of course the question which is immediately raised in your mind is ‘But Jamie, if they don’t have hands, how can they possibly catch that which they are chasing?’ And whilst it’s not actually raised in the film, I have my theory.

Surely, since their hands are fucking wheels, they only have one possible method for catching their quarry and that must be their mouths. Yes, I put it to you that the Wheeler’s capture and then eat their prey. That is fucking horrible. And guess what else they do. They wear helmets which, when their head is turned down towards the ground, has a second, creepier face on it!

I will say this though, they be some stylin’ motherfuckers. They got these long sleeved, clown-esque jackets which they often accessorise with multi-coloured pipes. Above that they wear those things which I can’t remember the name of. Not sure If I ever knew the name of them actually. They often appear in cartoons involving conductors or opera singers and a character will generally grab it and roll it up like a window blind. You know the thing I’m talking about. They also wear colourful bowties. Nice.

3. The Skeksis (The Dark Crystal)

Who doesn’t love The Dark Crystal? It’s a classic in the puppet/fantasy genre and it features the innocent Gelflings, the wise urRu and the… Holy Fucking Shit! What is that hideous vulture dinosaur thing?!?! Oh dear God, keep it away! Keep it away!

Yes, the Skeksis, the evil side of the once benevolent UrSkeks race which, as we all know, was splintered into two separate races, along with the urRu, when the Dark Crystal was fractured. The Skeksis have ruled their world for over a thousand years going so far as to commit genocide against the Gelfling due to a prophecy that a Gelfling would bring an end to their rule. Not only are they evil monsters but they are evil monsters who take superstition and myth seriously. Sure the prophecy turned out to be true but it was probably quite self-fulfilling.

So terrified was I by the Skeksis when I was younger that even to this day, whenever The Dark Crystal is brought up in conversation my mother helpfully informs everyone of just how much they used to frighten me. Seriously though who could blame me? I mean just look at them, they are the very embodiment of a child’s third worst nightmare. Thankyou Jim Henson for improving my life by inventing The Muppets, Sesame Street, The Fraggles and Dinosaurs and for scarring me for life by creating The Dark Crystal and making me want to stab/shit myself in terror whenever I see a vulture. I’ve had some pretty awkward moments being ejected from zoos, I can tell you.

2. The Child Catcher (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)

The country of Vulgaria seems like quite a nice place to visit despite the awful name it suffers from. With it’s Bavarian architecture and cobbled streets it seems like the kind of place that would make really good chocolate and beer. But after staying there for a while you’d notice a disturbing lack of children and disturbing number of depressed toy-makers played by Benny Hill. You see the problem is that the Baron of Vulgaria is a child-hating, toy-loving lunatic (which I admit makes it sound like he and I would get on quite well) who has hired one of the most terrifying characters ever capture on celluloid to hunt down and capture children.

This horrible, mincing freak with his top hat and elongated nose has haunted the dreams of many a child. There’s just something so… paedophiley about him. He’d stalk the streaks of Vulgaria with his cage disguised as a free treats cart offering sweets and ice-cream to any child who happened to cross his path making us all afraid to trust those perfectly nice strangers who would offer us sweets in the park. Bastard.

To top it all off he could actually smell children! How the fuck do you escape a villain with that kind of power? You can’t hide from him because his powerful nostrils would flare and he’d soon find you. One offer of a free sweet later and BAM! You’re locked up in some dungeon type place, never to see your parents again. There is one question I do have though: When the children grow up, were they freed from their subterranean prison? I can’t imagine that the population of Vulgaria would grow if they didn’t and I’m sure it would affect morale within the country if you citizens had spent the formative years of their lives locked in a fucking dungeon by their leader.

1. The Father (Mac and Me)

This is it. The big one and I’m sure I’ll be mostly alone on it. Mac and Me was a film which tried to capitalise on the success of E.T. by being released six years later and having a shittier but similar story. I’ve kind of reviewed it before and so I shan’t go into all the plot details again. I’ll just say that there are a few things that this film is famous for a number of things. One is the scene involving the main kid in the wheelchair flying over a cliff which used to played on Conan O’Brien when Paul Rudd would come on to promote a film. The second is that the film was really nothing more than a shameless plug for McDonalds, Skittles and Coca-Cola. There is an impromptu dance number in the middle of a McDonalds, Ronald and everything. It’s pretty fucked up.

Anyway the reason that this film sticks in my mind is because of Mac’s father, an unnamed alien who used to scare the shit out of me as a kid. There was something about his gaunt expressionless face that terrified me. It never changed no matter whether he was lying dying in a cave or whether he was wielding a gun in a supermarket. Yes. That actually happened and I’m sure it did nothing to reassure me that the creature wasn’t the most horrific thing a human had ever thought up.

This was literally the best picture I could find of Mac’s dad. When the internet refuses to have a picture of something, you know it’s horrific.

The way he moved scared me as well. His awkward, drunken gait as he stumbled around, his lanky arms occasionally flailing around to randomly smack at something. Oh god, just the thought of him now terrifies me. Seriously, the image of that bastard has been so seared into my mind as the worst thing imaginable that I literally have trouble seeing that film today. Every time he appears on screen a small shiver of fear judders up my mind and hits something deep and primal within my brain.

Well, that’s that. I’m sure I’ve forgotten more than one thing that also scared me when I was a kid or perhaps I’ve just blocked it from my mind as some kind of safety mechanism to keep myself sane. Until I can regress myself and remember what those things were, we’ll just leave it here. Laterz.



Top 10 Films That Influenced Me As A Youngling: Part 2 by Jamie
27/02/2009, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Lists | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yes I’ve finally returned with the second part of this list. Sorry it took me so long, it’s been a weird week. So without further ado, let’s get into it. Remember E.T. and Star Wars are taken as given.

5. Transformers

Yes, the original Transformers cartoon movie, set in the futuristic world of 2005! Alright, It seemed like along way away when the film was released in 1986. The film opens with the reveal of Unicron, a planet eating mother-fucker who, appropriately enough, eats a planet inhabited by robots. Unicron, of course, was the last film role of Orson Welles. Yes, Citizen fucking Cane ended his life by voicing a gigantic planet eating robot. Not only that but Leonard Nemoy also shows up, as does Eric Idle!
There are, however, two things that this film is largely remembered for. The first is the soundtrack which features a Weird Al song ‘Dare To Be Stupid’ but more importantly Stan Bush’s ‘The Touch.’ Is the song terrible? Yes, terribly awesome! Let’s have a listen:

The other thing that this film is known for is the relentless robot slaughter that takes place on screen. Many, many Transformers die, especially during the film’s first battle when the Decepticons attack the Autobots base one Earth. Why was there so much robotic carnage? Well, it was so they could clear out the old cast, introduce new characters and have a whole host of new toys to sell!

There is one death in particular which stands out, of course. Robot God himself, Optimus “The Christ” Prime lays down his life so that other Autobots might live to fight the good fight another day. There is no way to describe how it feels to see Prime die when you are a child, especially so damn early in the film. And what’s worse? Optimus’s final act as the Autobot leader is to hand the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus who is a total fuck up. So we’re left with the impression that Prime has shit judgement. I guess I can give him a pass since he was dying at the time but still… So there’s the influence, the first time I remember feeling terrible about the death of a fictional character.

4. The Goonies

Hey You Guys! Fuck yeah, The Goonies. Action, adventure, pirates! What more could you want from a children’s film? Well, lots more and the Goonies has it all. The story revolves around a group of children trying to find the treasure of One Eyed Willy so that they can save their homes. Throw in a crime family with a deformed son and you’ve got a recipe for success.

Is it me or were children’s films of the 80s a little more risqué than the stuff you see today? This film has references to sex and drugs, the characters swear and there are times when it genuinely seems as though the kids could die. I noticed the same thing in the Explorers and other 80s kids films such as D.A.R.Y.L. and even E.T. Elliott gets wasted for fuck’s sake.

There is so much I remember about this film that it’s almost impossible for me to write about it. The truffle shuffle, Mikey’s moment ‘alone’ with One Eyed Willy, Data’s gadgets, Corey Feldman being a cool motherfucker, Josh Brolin riding a girls bike, Sloth, Chunk’s breaking down during his lengthy confession… Fucking hell, every damn frame of this film is gold.

3. Gremlins 2

I saw the original Gremlins when I was probably around 6. Too young, perhaps, but I loved it. The violence was so over the top and crazy that I don’t think I was really scared by it. It seemed almost like watching a live action cartoon. So if that was the reaction my young mind had to the first film, the second one took that and ramped it up to eleven.

Now I know some people are going to say that Gremlins 2 is inferior to the first film and to those people I say shut your goddamn whore mouths. I saw this film at just the right time for it be forever ingrained in my mind as the better of the two. There’s so much I love here. The genetically mutated gremlins, in particular the Brain Gremlin, voiced by Tony Randall, who is one of my favourite movie characters of all time with one of my favourite quotes:

“Now bear in mind, none of us has been in New York before. There are the Broadway shows – We’ll have to find out how to get tickets. There’s also a lot of street crime but I believe we can watch that for free.”

He is the epitome of what a gremlin with intelligence should be, a bizarre creature with a warped view of what civilisation should be. There’s also poor old Spike, born as a mogwai with a mohawk meaning he’s destined to be the leader of the Gremlins but this role is kinda usurped by Brain Gremlin so Spike ends up as a spider hybrid instead.

The violence is even more over the top and cartoonish than the first instalment and the whole thing is just a little more than tongue-in-cheek, with self-referential gags throughout, including Leonard Maltin with a review of the original film. Fuck, I’ve knackered myself just thinking about this film. It’s awesome.

2. Jurassic Park

1993 saw the release of three major films involving dinosaurs. One, We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story, would be largely forgotten about. The second would be despised and reviled for years to come, Super Mario Bros. and the third would be Jurassic Park.

Now, it’s a well known fact boys love dinosaurs but perhaps I more than most. Christ, when I was a kid I wanted to be a palaeontologist. I even had a favourite palaeontologist in the form of Bob Bakker. He has an awesome beard and a character based on him appeared in the sequel, The Lost World. I had toy dinosaurs all around my room. My carpet had dinosaur footprints in it. I loved every damn dinosaur thing that came my way, Denver The Last Dinosaur, Dink The Littlest Dinosaur, The Land Before Time and Dinoriders (which clearly had the best quality dinosaur toys.) It was all awesome, so when Jurassic Park came along, what choice did I have but to love it?

Dinosaurs were brought to life in a way they never had before. Gone were the days of bits of cardboard being stuck to lizards, stop motion animation and men in giant rubber suits (sorry Godzilla). These things looked like living, breathing animals. People say that the effects look a little dated nowadays but I can’t see it. Every time I watch it, I watch it with a child’s eyes. The sense of wonder and amazement I felt as a child at seeing a T-Rex attacking a couple of cars it still there with me today. What more can I say? It’s one of the few films that just makes me feel like a kid again.



1. Jaws

Iconic music. Iconic characters. An iconic monster. This film was my favourite when I was a kid and it’s probably my favourite now. I often have a hard time trying to decide which is my favourite film but it turns out if I’m thinking about long and hard than this is definitely it. Simple as that.

The film simply ramps up the tension with every scene by employing a technique, familiar in later films, in which you have a killer which you don’t see until fairly close to the end of the film, most of the time the action is seen through the shark’s eyes as he stalks his prey, the tension highlighted by John Williams simple but awesome Jaws theme. It doesn’t pull any punches either, with both a dog and a kid getting killed. This leaves you with the feeling that everyone is a potential meal for the great white menace.

Now many horror films, and I was technically consider Jaws a horror film, have an iconic killer but the rest of the characters are essentially cardboard cut-out stereotypes. Not so in Jaws. You have Chief Brody, the good cop who knows the score but who no one will listen to. He’s also shit scared of water. There’s also Matt Hooper, shark expert and of course Quint. Quint is without a doubt in my top three movie characters off all time. He’s the one who was most in danger of being a stereotype, just your typical salty sea-dog type but he has just enough back story and personality to make him stand out from the crowd.

And god, there are so many great scenes in this film. When the shark comes up when Brody’s chumming to the simple scene where Sean is copying his father‘s actions. Fuck, the scene where Ben Gardner’s head bobs out of his boat still makes me jump and I’ve seen this film a thousand times. But the scene that really stands out, in my opinion one of the greatest scenes in cinema is the comparing injuries/Indianapolis scene. Awesome.



Top 10 Films That Influenced Me As A Youngling: Part 1 by Jamie

The films you watch as a child will probably go some way to influencing your choice of movies as an adult. Sure, your tastes may refine as you get older. Some art house films may make their way into your collection, the odd underground hit or perhaps a foreign film or two but chances are that if you watched a lot of films of a particular type as a child, you will generally enjoy those kinds of films when you grow up. By the way, some films should just be taken as a given such as E.T. and Star Wars,

So what films then have most influenced my modern preference of cinema viewing? Let’s look, won’t we?

10: Son Of Godzilla

Yeah, that’s right. Son of Godzilla. Admittedly one of the weaker films in the series starring the king of the giant rubber monsters, the G-Man himself but I loved this movie as a kid. It’s got giant praying mantises, a giant spider, a baby Godzilla and glorious bad dubbing. Now I’m generally a subtitles man but fuck it, if I’m watching a Godzilla film, I want bad dubbing! The story revolves around the birth of the big dude’s son, Minilla, and his development. There’s another story revolving some Japanese meteorologists but who cares what the people are doing? Fuck ‘em.
There are some great moments in this film, most of which revolve around Godzilla being mildly abusive towards his son. Ah, giant reptile child abuse. It’s what I live for. There are some fun moments such as Minilla jumping over his dad’s tail whilst he’s sleeping, the baby’s attempt at breathing nuclear fire resulting in nothing but nuclear smoke rings and a few nice moments in which Godzilla protects his son from attacks from mantises and the spider. The ending is also bitter sweet as the monsters island home is covered with a blanket of snow, and Godzilla is shown protecting Minilla from the cold as they go into hibernation.
So this film is the reason that I love Godzilla films. All of them. Well, except for that one Godzilla film. Ugh. You know the one I mean.
One final note about this film. I once saw a poster for it and the tagline read thusly: “Have You Ever Seen A Monster Hatch From A Monster Egg? No? You Will!” Awesome.

9. Short Circuit

I love robots. I love Dr. Pepper. Therefore I love Short Circuit. It’s one of those films that seems to have moulded my life in tiny little ways that I often don’t realise. I’ll sometimes just yell out the word “Input!” whilst reading, so it’s a good thing I generally read while I’m by myself, sometimes I’ll yell “Disassemble!” in a terrified manner, I say the name Stephanie in an odd manner and I can only sing “More Than A Woman” in the style of Number 5.

So what’s the film about? Do I really have to explain it? Fine. It’s about a military robot, Number 5, who gets struck by lightning and comes all to life and that. He escapes from his military compound and goes off about town learning about what it means to be alive and what it means to die. Of course a remake is now in the works and I was one of those people who wasn’t that bothered by the whole remake thing. Sure I wanted to see more original things coming from Hollywood but it’s not like they could possibly detract from the originals at all? Could they? Of course, that was how I felt before the Friday the 13th debacle. I refuse to finish my reviews of the original films simply because I saw that damn film.

8. Dark Crystal

Hell yeah! Puppets are good, Muppets are awesome and this film is rife with them. Not your typical fuzzy animal fare mind you. Rather horrible, freakish nightmare creatures that are based on vultures. Ugh, the Skeksis used to freak me the fuck out when I was a kid, in fact only two things probably freaked me out more, the father alien in Mac and Me and the Child Catcher in Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang. Oh god, I think I’m gonna be sick. Why do you taunt me nightmare monsters from my youth?

Still, the freakishness of the Skeksis is counteracted by the greatness of the UrRu because they look a bit like anthropomorphised giant ground sloths and giant ground sloths are awesome. As for the Gelflings, well, them I can take or leave. They just leave pretty much no impression on me whatsoever.

So what was the influence that Dark Crystal had on me? Well I guess it gave me an appreciation for the fantasy genre and for epic movies in general. As far as I know I hadn’t really seen many films with the kind of scope that this film had, maybe The Neverending Story but I can barely remember that movie at all, and the fact that it was all done with puppetry makes it even more impressive.

7. Explorers

For years I couldn’t remember what this film was called. It was on a video which was full of movie taped for me, simply called “Jamie’s Tape.” So when it came time for me to buy it, I was faced with a bit of a dilemma. The video was up in the loft and I sure as hell wasn’t going to go up there and find it. So I searched and I searched the internet and finally, I found it. It was awesome.

The film is about three kids who build a spaceship after one of them has a surrealistic dream giving them instructions. The spaceship takes them deep into outer space where they meet two aliens obsessed with television. One of the aliens, Wak, seems to enjoy imitating Earth broadcasts such as Bugs Bunny and Mr. Ed. It’s all very fun until a larger ship attacks the aliens. They boys are told it’s space Pirates and warned that they should leave but they soon discover it’s actually the aliens father, reprimanding them for stealing one of the family cars. It’s an all round great sci-fi adventure film and definitely went some way towards my love of sci-fi today. One last interesting fact is that it was the first feature film for both River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke.

6. Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

This film is the greatness. A surrealistic mind fuck through a chocolate wonders cape, the eponymous factory as owned by Sir William Wonka. From shrinking corridors to fizzy lifting drinks, everything in this film elicits a response of wonderment and sometimes flat out, bat shit crazy terror. I’m thinking of one scene in particular. Let’s take a look:

Did you see that crazy shit? Woah, a chicken got it’s head all chopped off! And that dude with the millipede crawling across his face. That was pretty weird, eh? It would, of course, all just be a random collection of images if not for Gene Wilder’s fantastic, increasingly hysterical singing. Let’s take a look at the lyrics for a minute:

Round the world and home again
That’s the sailor’s way
Faster faster, faster faster

There’s no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There’s no knowing where we’re rowing
Or which way the river’s flowing

Is it raining, is it snowing
Is a hurricane a-blowing

Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Are the fires of Hell a-glowing
Is the grisly reaper mowing

Yes, the danger must be growing
For the rowers keep on rowing
And they’re certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing

Fuck me. That’s awesome.

Well this seems like a good time to take a break, part two will be up tomorrow. If you’re wondering why I’m not going into too much detail on some of these films, well, it’s because I plan to review them. Laterz.




%d bloggers like this: