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Monsters of Love

Last night I finally watched Spring, a film that I’ve heard nothing but positive ravings about. “One of the best horror films of the year so far” and I’m not here to say that I disagree, it’s a beautiful film both in plot and cinematography. However I do struggle with the idea that it is a horror film, in the sense that it is not a scary movie (Although a film doesn’t need to scare me for it to be considered a horror film) but it is a monster movie, a romantic monster movie. That in itself is not groundbreaking. Yet I feel like the response, or the response that I’m aware of, is. Why is Spring getting such praise when films like the Twilight series have been heralded as the horror-genre end of days?


I feel like I should admit at this point that I have never watched a Twilight movie or read any of the books so any points that I make on them should be taken from the point of view that I’m not well educated on the series. What I do know is the vague plot that a teenage girl falls in love with a vampire and that there’s a werewolf who also loves the girl. There’s also something about vampire baseball but I’ll stop before I embarrass myself with my lack of knowledge. Girl loves monster. Monster loves girl. Forbidden love is abound. Spring, as much as I can say without spoilers, also features forbidden love between a human and a monster. After watching it, I must admit that I feel pretty hypocritical about any shit I gave Twilight when it first arrived on the scene. I wasn’t as bad as some but I had strong enough opinions to reject seeing those films.


Twilight has received harsh criticism in the past due to the nature of the relationship between Edward and Bella, that it is sexist and abusive. Edward is controlling, manipulative and generally a threat to Bella’s safety. These are the sort of criticisms I can understand why people would respond negatively to the Twilight movies. Spring’s romantic elements don’t seem to have these problems, but the relationship between Evan and Louise doesn’t get to that a relationship status where that might become a problem. It’s more of the chase up to the commitment that is seen in Spring and any danger that Evan is in because of Louise, it’s his choice.


So Spring doesn’t focus on an abusive relationship, which is a step up from Twilight. I have to ask the next question though, do the audience take Spring more seriously because it’s a man romantically involved with a monster rather than a girl? Does having Evan, a young man in his 20s, as the main protagonist rather than a teenage girl like Bella make it harder to dismiss his romantic intentions as foolish? He’s choosing to get into a potentially dangerous relationship with a creature who could easily kill him. Some might consider him brave and romantic, but he’s in a vulnerable state. He’s drifting in the world. He’s lost and this girl/monster is something he has chosen to love and commit to. If he was a teenage girl I’m sure there would be plenty people willing to point out there are plenty of potential partners out there who won’t accidentally monster-out and eat her. I can understand that a 20 year old has more life experience than a teenager when it comes to making romantic decisions but I don’t think that Evan is making any less risky a decision than Bella when it comes to settling down with a supernatural partner.


Another reason that the choice of a male protagonist effects the audience response to this film is that there seems to be less of an obvious target demographic. Twilight was definitely marketed towards a female audience, mainly teenagers. I wouldn’t say I’m far off when I say that teenage girls are often stereotyped as being vapid, and that the films that marketed towards them are inconsequential and shallow. It’s an unfair generalisation that is based more on badly written characters written by men than actual teen girls. The marketing for Spring is much more focused on suspense and danger based on the tone of the trailer rather than the romantic story that dominates most of the plot. It’s like they were trying to avoid the romance in fears that it might discredit them in the eyes of a male audience.


Lastly, I think the loudest argument I heard against Twilight, particularly after the first film came out was that it was ruining vampire movies. That the image of a vampire that sparkled was the most repulsively stupid addition to vampire mythology ever conceived. Okay the sparkling was a bit much but it was a minor thing, Sunlight still kills them (right?) but it’s just a bit of imagery that people who dislike the general idea of romantic monsters have latched onto as their major criticism of Twilight. Vampires have been seducing people forever so I don’t know why it’s such a big deal here. Sure some of those vampires seduced their prey, drank them and moved on, but it’s still part of the mythos. Spring is a lot more vague when it comes to it’s monster of choice. Louise isn’t a particular monster, she’s some kind of shape-shifter. She isn’t a reinvention of some classic movie monster. It’s her ambiguity that makes her a new kind of creature so there isn’t some backlash of monster fans screaming that her sappy romantic sentiments are ruining shape-shifters.

Overall I think that Spring is a great film, and if you haven’t seen it already you should go check it out. It’s a romantic creature feature that shows that supernatural inter-species romance isn’t dead. The monster imagery may just be metaphor for Louise’s baggage, be that emotional baggage or living with illness, and that everyone deserves love regardless of what life has thrown at them. Whether you choose to enjoy this film literally or metaphorically, I hope that you think twice about monsters in love.

Season’s Shriekings

It’s that time of year where all the naughty boys and girls with an unhealthy obsession with the macabre like to settle down next to the fire and watch a festive fright flick. Black Christmas, maybe Gremlins, maybe even a little bit of Silent Night Deadly Night. However looking at the roster for Christmas horror films, it’s a bit limited. Almost entirely populated by either slashers in Santa disguises, or just straight up evil Santas, the time has come to diversify our holiday horrors. Here’s a few suggestions on how to use some of our other favourite horror sub-genres at Christmas.


While Christmas can be a fairly torturous experience for many of us, with the family obligations, the barbarity of the general public if you work retail this time of year, and the brain-bending misery that is figuring out just what to buy Grandma this year, there’s plenty room for some more visceral torture. How about something transformative, a Christmas tree salesman who makes his own by abducting a guy and surgically attaching more limbs before decorating it with baubles pierced through skin and asphyxiating tinsel.


Maybe you prefer something a little less medical, and a little more homely. How about a Body Horror focusing on the ultimate pushy Grandma, force-feeding her brood with gut-expanding amounts of gravy, turkey and brussel sprouts. A soundtrack of choking gasps and farts over “I wish it could be christmas everyday” by Wizard, would be enough to turn the stomach of even hardened horror fans.


While it’s usually the jolly fat man who’s dishing out the punishments in our Christmas horrors, how about a little revenge for the retail workers. A bit of the old Death Wish as a shop assistant abused by Christmas Shoppers is pushed passed the limits of sanity and goes on a home invasion killing spree (You just had to agree to that warranty, we know where you live now…) and using their gifts against them, getting some vigilante justice. Garrotted with jewellery, maimed by electrical goods, there’s plenty room for some imaginative kills.


Christmas time is a time for children, and while the Evil Children sub-genre could easily run rampant (as it should), my suggestion is slightly different. A bullied child visits a mall Santa and whispers into his ear their Christmas wish. This Santa is the real deal however and grants the kid’s wish. A wish to be stronger. The kid discovers powers beginning to form, telekinetic powers. Basically I’m saying to rip off Carrie. Replace the Prom scene with a school nativity play and go wild.

So those were just a couple ideas to whet your appetite for festive frights. If you want to use any of these ideas, contact me at horror365@ymail.com or through twitter @horror365. If not I might just have to get these under the tree for next year’s christmas.

Christopher Stewart

“King of Creeps”