29 Aug SCARY MONSTERS AND…MORE BIG SCARY MONSTERS!
Kirk Hammett Talks Monsters, Monsters, and More Monsters!
I was watching this movie called JeruZalem — it’s a cool, foreign horror movie with a pretty cool premise. At one point there’s a horde of demons descending on the city of Jerusalem, and it’s great because there’s a total point of chaos before you see all this military air power coming in and shooting at something really big… which is when, from the distance, you see a goddamn giant demon. And I just thought — ‘totally unexpected! How often does that happen?’ How cool is it when you see a giant monster when you’re not expecting it?! You’re like “whoa, where did that thing come from!?” Another movie that had a great monster cameo of this nature, was Troll Hunter. That’s one movie I discuss a lot because I love the premise, I love how it’s made, I love that they use stop-motion animation and I loved the concept of a giant troll monster. And when I saw the giant troll in that movie, I got amazingly excited and thought ‘how fucking cool is that!’ Maybe it’s the concept in my head of how difficult it is to be a giant monster, how difficult it is to hide yourself, and how difficult it is to enter and exit without making a huge “splash.”
There are many giant monsters, and many definitions of what one is. Take Jaws. Check it out – Jaws is truly a giant monster that lives in reality, so Jaws might be the biggest monster out there. And that giant alligator that was filmed walking down a Florida golf course… people should check that out if they’re having any doubts about whether or not monsters still exist. The Loch Ness Monster is definitely prime territory for a movie, but maybe no-one has seriously approached it because possibly there isn’t enough data on the Loch Ness Monster to effectively support a storyline that can sustain itself. That must be a main reason, because there’s very cool premise and you can really go a couple steps further and tie in all sorts of craziness with the Loch Ness Monster. That whole area itself has a lot of mythology to it. One monster I have to mention that’s one of my very favorite giant monsters to make a cameo is the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters. How effective is that, when all of a sudden, the last quarter part of Ghostbusters, Dan Ackroyd gets a look on his face, and then the next scene is a gigantic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man? I mean, how cool is that? And how ominous is it when the SPMM starts frowning and gets mad?! For me, that’s a moment, a cinematic moment.
I thought The Host was a spectacular giant monster movie. And Cloverfield, I have to say, that was one giant monster who is highly effective at causing mayhem. We’ve all seen the trailer, or maybe we haven’t! — but it’s a memorable part of the movie and trailer when all of a sudden, the head of the Statue of Liberty comes rolling down Fifth Avenue.
How fucking epic is that!? Cloverfield as a movie is great because there’s no real resolution to it. It ends pretty much in the same open way as 10 Cloverfield Lane ends. You’re not really sure WTF is happening in the bigger picture. I also really enjoyed the very end of Cabin In The Woods. It offered up some sinister beings of gargantuan persuasions that make it to the party at the film’s conclusion…
And then there’s the classic giant monster movies. I saw Gorgo when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old. I love the fact that not only is it a cool giant monster movie, but in a time when all the monster movies were black and white, Gorgo was actually in color. The great thing about Gorgo is he’s a giant monster but really — spoiler alert here for people who have not seen Gorgo — he’s just mad because he can’t find his mother, who’s twice as big as Gorgo Junior. How cool is that? That movie one-ups your perception of the key giant monster protagonist in the film.
Being a huge Harryhausen fan, I love how in It Came From Beneath The Sea, the monster wrapped itself around the Golden Gate Bridge — it was five miles away from my house, down to the ferry building, where I often go myself. I love the SF aspects of that movie and I love the fact that a giant monster is rampaging through it. Because usually when you see giant monsters through cities they’re usually in Tokyo, NY, Washington, D.C. But this time they picked SF… and the civic pride I have for SF comes out when I watch that movie. I’m so proud that that monster picked SF to thrash!
Tremors was an early 90’s movie that really felt like a 50’s sci-fi, giant monster, technology-gone wrong kind of film. But the entire time I was watching that movie in the theater, I kept thinking about the giant sand worms from Dune and wondering if that was an inspiration — the book and movie Dune. But having said that, I loved the humor of it all. One line in that movie that still sticks with me to this day is when one of the older guys guy was just trying to figure out what was going wrong and he said, ‘we have to name the monster, we have to name it, we have to name it’ for some philosophical reason, and he said, ‘maybe we can call it Graboid.’ When I heard that — it was all in his delivery and all in his seriousness, I just started cracking up man. To this day I find I still think about that line, the delivery of it and how funny it was to me…unforgettable.
One of my all-time favorite giant creatures was The Amazing Colossal Man, who later became the Colossal Beast in War of the Colossal Beast. Glenn Manning started off as a regular guy in the army where there’s a nuclear bomb test site. He doesn’t make it to the shelter, he gets exposed to the radiation and he starts growing and growing and growing until he’s like 50-60 feet tall. At the same time as he’s growing, he’s losing mental capacities for whatever reason and at the end of the first movie, he gets shot off the Hoover Dam. In the second movie, they discover that he survived, but the whole side of his face miraculously has been shaven off down to the bone and miraculously he has an empty eye socket. Which is biologically not feasible, but looks tremendously cool and really really great.
I heard the makeup job for The Colossal Beast was done by the one and only Paul Blaisdell, Monster Maker of The She Creature, The Invasion of the Saucermen, It! The Terror from Beyond Space, etc. I just love the fact that when he comes lumbering around, he’s this basic giant monster guy who’s just trying to survive, and all the little humans around him are trying to put him in his place. There are some super-memorable parts in both those movies, and I just love the scene when the Colossal Man – as opposed to the Colossal Beast – is in Las Vegas and roaring down the strip and tearing down all these casino and theater signs and whatnot.
One giant movie monster which is world famous and absolutely needs to be mentioned here is Alien. When I saw the Alien Queen it was epic. And you know the crazy thing about the Alien Queen is that if you look at her feet, it looks like she’s wearing high-heeled women’s pumps! Crazy!
One thing to be clear about. Since we’re talking about giant monsters, I’m purposely guiding the argument away from your stereotypical giant monsters like Godzilla, King Kong, Rodan, the entire Asian Giant Monster mythos. But I like how Japanese culture needs to perceive their monsters as big, larger-than-life — a minimum of 30 feet tall. Their take on Frankenstein is of a 60-foot tall creature. If you watch Frankenstein Conquers the World, Frankenstein is the same size as Godzilla. That movie definitely deserves a mention here in that it’s taking the giant monster concept and really going somewhere different. It’s a complete revision of the whole Frankenstein mythology, is one of my favorite Japanese movies and he fights Baragon at one point!
The really funny thing about any giant monster scenario that never gets talked about are the residual civilian casualties. You hardly ever see the nightmare scenario after a giant monster has tromped through your favorite city, which would be the civilian casualty count. There is one Godzilla movie where they actually focus on civilian casualties and Godzilla’s effect. But generally not. I’ll give you one example — it was a more modern Godzilla movie… Godzilla is walking through Tokyo, then the scene cuts to this woman in her living room. She sees Godzilla out the window and she sees a swinging tail coming right for her apartment. And the next scene is the tail taking out the entire apartment building, which would happen! I guess my nightmare giant monster scenario would be to take a count of all the fucking human decimation in its wake. They always show people trying to leave the city, but you and I know that there are people who just don’t leave!
Well, that’s me and giant monsters, what do YOU have to say? Let me know below.. I’m all eyes.
P.S. I recently launched a collaboration with Blackcraft Cult. If you know anything about me, you’ll know I’ve been a big fan of their t-shirts and have been wearing them for years. When they approached me to do a Kirk Hammett x Blackcraft Cult collaboration, I immediately wanted to do it! We just released the first shirt called The Lusurfers! It combines my love for surfing, skulls, and all things evil!! It’s just the beginning of a very cool creative project! Check it out when you have time. Cheers!