Chewing on and Spitting out Some Ideas about the Stranger Things Monsters

                  This is my last post for the RIG Monsters class during this spring term. Thank you to everyone who  took the time to read my posts and to comment on them. I hope each one of you goes forward and  earns  smashing success with your stories and continued academic pursuits! About three or four years ago, I watched the first season of Stranger Things on Netflix. My daughter had recommended it. She had seen it when it aired originally. The purpose of this post is to critique the monsters. To do that, I could not rely on my memory. So I watched a few clips of the show on YouTube, read some info on the show, including the Wikipedia article, but most importantly consulted my daughter. I drove to her house, which isn’t far from my own, and she showed me some of the key episodes with monster appearances. We didn’t watch an entire episode except for the last episode of Season 3, “The Battle of Starcourt.” One of the things that became apparent from both watching the show and

Getting into a Genetic Jam with Relic

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have characters play Russian roulette with reptilian and human genes, viruses, and addictive plant fibers, mixing them all into a literary blender, and spitting out a hugely entertaining genetic jam with their first novel, Relic , published twenty-six years ago. Thanks to their backgrounds and/or extensive research, they create a credible story that begins with the mythical monster of an extinct Brazilian indigenous tribe but ends as a scientific monstrosity. Or does it? The pair get an A+ for weaving together knowledge from discrete specialized fields, including physical anthropology, botany, genetics, evolution, computer science, public museum politics and administration, law enforcement, architecture, and medical forensics.  Preston and Child write in what I will call a third-person, omniscient point-of-view, but a very soft omniscience. The tale is not told from the perspective of one character, unless that person is in a scene by himself or hersel

Absorbing the Good and the Bad of The Blob

The Blob was just plain horrible. The first half to two-thirds of the film threw silliness, cheap thrills, stinking dialogue meant to be witty, absurdities, and story discontinuities at the reasonably intelligent viewer, forcing him to feel astonishment, contempt, hilarity that induced laughter, and other such emotions . And yet The Blob had a few moments. They didn’t redeem the film, but they hinted at what might have been. Cheerleader Megan, played by acne-afflicted Shawnee Smith, went Ripley at the end of the film, blazing bullets and curses at the gelatinous blob, drawing its attention away from bad-boy Brian, and deftly planting an explosive a top a nitrous oxide-carrying truck. Her actions would end the giant bio-hazard’s absorbing roll through town. The movie offered mostly scareless, tension-deficient development, but the scene where Meg’s little brother’s jacket gets caught in the movie theater exit door pumped up the suspense and tension for me. It was one of the few, c

Learning to Unlove Lovecraft?

 A strange feeling overcame me as I read the stories of H.P. Lovecraft: "The Call of Cthulhu", "Pickman's Model", and "The Outsider". To use a contemporary idiom, I wasn't feeling them. I was disappointed in myself for not feeling them. and I wondered why I wasn't. I'm not slighting Mr. Lovecraft's imagination. It's deep and vivid. I'm not slighting his writing. It's classic.  But for the first time in my life, I didn't feel the style fit. It wasn't that I did not get scared at all or at the least disturbed by the ideas and images I was reading. I just wasn't awestruck and frightened out of my mind, and I couldn't figure out why at first. His subject material was frightening, although not so much in the case of "The Outsider", which read like his take on the Frankenstein monster.  What I came up with is the RIG-Monsters class is to blame for my not feeling the way I thought I should as I read Lovecr

Going Nuclear on Godzilla (2014)

  Timothy Sáenz Blog Post – Godzilla (2014) Due: Friday, 16 April 2021 RIG – Monsters Prof. Scott Johnson MFA in Writing Popular Fiction If you are having trouble getting to sleep at night, play the movie, Godzilla, the 2014 version, and you will tumble into a deep sleep, possibly even a coma. If ever a film existed full of explosions, earthquakes, crumbling skyscrapers, and monster roars that could substitute for counting sheep, it is this one. So you may have to turn the volume low enough. A morality tale about mankind’s naughty flirtation with nuclear power, Godzilla will put you to sleep within 45 minutes, which is about how long it takes before we get a real glimpse of any of the monsters that appear in this film. Here is the problem with Godzilla and all its iterations except the first. Godzilla began as a serious monster story hampered only by the limitations of Japan’s postwar film industry. After that initial entree, it became a children’s movie franchise stern enou

Malfi's Thrills Are as Pure as Snow

  Timothy Sáenz Blog Post – Snow Due: Friday, 9 April 2021 RIG – Monsters Prof. Scott Johnson MFA in Writing Popular Fiction Snow is a horror story with subtle threads of science fiction woven into it and penned by Ronald Malfi. This classifies it as a piece of speculative fiction set in a small, isolated, fictional Iowa town in the midst of a massive Christmas Eve blizzard. Malfi keeps up a furious pace and piles on complication after complication as a band of four travelers try to get help for their dead Jeep Cherokee by walking to the nearest town, called Woodson. It turns out Woodson needs their help. It has been invaded by snow-like creatures under the cover of snow. The creatures use their sharp, scythe-like arms to tear open a portal in the backs of humans by which they enter and take control of them. The possession of adults is horrible enough, but the effort leaves children faceless and cut off even from the invaders. Malfi’s imagery and ability to conjure up c

The Thing Gets Bloody Disgusting (Yay!)

Timothy Sáenz Blog Post – The Thing Due: Friday, 2 April 2021 RIG – Monsters Prof. Scott Johnson MFA in Writing Popular Fiction Director John Carpenter’s The Thing uses elements we have recently read about and discussed, like setting, isolation, and mood under the aegis of the single-effect theory to create the horror imposed by an alien being not known or understood and that cannot be tracked swiftly enough as it takes over each person or animal at a cellular level. Carpenter skillfully uses ambiguity to raise doubts about who is who, who can be trusted, and what motivated a character to take the actions he did. The setting is a 12-man American camp (Outpost No. 31) on Antarctica in what was then present-day 1982. The really bad winter storms (apparently in February) and super subzero temperatures (to wax oxymoronic) are settling in. An estimation indicates the American camp is at least a hundred miles from the Norwegian camp, whose members discovered the alien and the flying sau