Since the beginning of cinema, filmmakers have been driven to create monstrous characters, drawing on folklore and literature for inspiration. From the 1930s, Dracula embodied the lust and violence in society, while Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and King Kong, offered cautionary tales of science gone mad, and expressed fears of evolutionary theory and of the outsider. In the 1950s, anxiety regarding the atomic age inspired the oversized monster Godzilla, while in the 1960s, the shock of new wars brought plagues of the undead to the screen.
The Gallery's 'Monsters' film program celebrates an enduring fascination with cinematic monsters, surveying the genre's most popular films across six strands: Bloodthirsty Fiends; Zombies, Mutants and Shapeshifters; Misunderstood Monsters; Mad Doctors; Foreign Entities; and Monstrous Absurdities. It also considers some of the most fertile periods of monster filmmaking: from the popular Universal Studios films of the 1930s and 1940s, the reinvigoration of these stories by Hammer Films in the 1950s, the drive-in creature features of the 1950s and 1960s, and subsequent revivals of the monster genre.
'Monsters' offers an opportunity to rediscover some of the genre's most popular films on the big screen, including recent digital restorations and archival film prints from around the world. Audiences can also experience a selection of silent films with live musical accompaniment performed on the Gallery's 1929 Wurlitzer Organ.
LECTURE Beyond King Kong: Projecting the Monster Within Sun 12 May 3.00pm / Cinema A Explore how the cinematic monster expresses the repression of humanity's animal nature, fears and desires with Kathryn Weir, Curatorial Manager, International Art and the Australian Cinémathèque.
QAGOMA acknowledges the generous assistance of the British Film Institute, London; Cinémathèque québécoise, Québec; Library of Congress, Washington; National Film and Sound Archive Australia, Canberra; UCLA Film and Television Archive, Los Angeles; and Universal Pictures, Universal City. Program curated by Amanda Slack-Smith, Australian Cinémathèque.
List of Works
Embodying repressed lust and violence, these thirsty exsanguinators have evolved cinematically from vicious fiends to sympathetic, often romantic, figures torn by feelings of love and remorse.
Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror) 1922 | Director: Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
Dracula 1931 | Director: Tod Browning
Horror of Dracula 1958 | Director: Terence Fisher
La Maschera del Demonio (Black Sunday) 1960 | Director: Mario Bava
Geung si sin sang (Mr Vampire) 1985 | Director: Ricky Lau
Fright Night 1985 | Director: Tom Holland
The Lost Boys 1987 | Director: Joel Schumacher
Near Dark 1987 | Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Bram Stoker's Dracula 1992 | Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cronos 1993 | Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Let the Right One In 2008 | Director: Tomas Alfredson
Bakjwi (Thirst) 2009 | Director: Park Chan-wook
Zombies, Mutants and Shapeshifters
From depictions of voodoo to tales of cannibal zombies, these films draw on folk superstitions, taboos, and bodily ambiguities. Their cinematic anti-heroes embody fears of disease and psychosis, variously suffering genetic mutation, viral infection and mind-control.
White Zombie 1932 | Director: Victor Halperin
The Wolf Man 1941 | Director: George Waggner
Cat People 1942 | Director: Jacques Tourneur
I Walked With a Zombie 1943 | Director: Jacques Tourneur
Them! 1954 | Director: Gordon Douglas
Night of the Living Dead 1968 | Director: George A Romero
Zombi 2 1978 | Director: Lucio Fulci
The Howling 1980 | Director: Joe Dante
An American Werewolf in London 1981 | Director: John Landis
Ginger Snaps 2000 | Director: John Fawcett
Grindhouse 2007 | Directors: Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino
The Descent 2005 | Director: Neil Marshall
Provoked into monstrous deeds by the actions of others, these emotionally-complex beings are often undone by personal tragedies and intense love. However horrific their final acts, their desires and foibles raise question about who and what makes a monster.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 | Director: Wallace Worsley
The Phantom of the Opera 1925 | Director: Rupert Julian
Freaks 1932 | Director: Tod Browning
The Mummy 1932 | Director: Karl Freund
King Kong 1933 | Directors: Merian C Cooper, Ernest B Schoedsack
Gojira (Godzilla) 1954 | Director: Ishirô Honda
Creature from the Black Lagoon 1954 | Director: Jack Arnold
Cautionary tales of science gone mad, these films explore medical experiments that range from the well-meaning to the depraved. From species cross-breeding to genetic modification and corpse reanimation, their narrative explorations express fears of evolutionary theory and unchecked scientific experimentation.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde 1931 | Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Frankenstein 1931 | Director: James Whale
Island of Lost Souls 1932 | Director: Erle C Kenton
The Invisible Man 1933 | Director: James Whale
The Bride of Frankenstein 1935 | Director: James Whale
Mad Love 1935 | Director: Karl Freund
The Curse of Frankenstein 1957 | Director: Terence Fisher
Re-Animator 1985 | Director: Stuart Gordon
The Fly 1986 | Director: David Cronenberg
These films write large the anxieties surrounding political and social change, as well as contacts with 'alien' cultures which arose strongly in the anti-communist, atomic era of the 1950s and 60s. Manifested in multifarious forms, the fears expressed often catalyse the formation of vigilante brigades defending their territory against the invading hordes.
The Thing from Another World 1951 | Director: Christian Nyby
The Day of the Triffids 1962 | Director: Steve Sekely
Gremlins 1984 | Director: Joe Dante
Hellraiser 1987 | Director: Clive Barker
Evil Dead II 1987 | Director: Sam Raimi
Tremors 1990 | Director: Ron Underwood
Splinter 2008 | Director: Toby Wilkins
Attack the Block 2011 | Director: Joe Cornish
Monsters 2010 | Director: Gareth Edwards
Cabin in the Woods 2012 | Director: Drew Goddard
A melding of comedy and horror, these films pay homage to their forebears through the incorporation of sly references and conventional monster-film tropes.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein 1948 | Director: Charles T Barton
Robot Monster 1953 | Director: Phil Tucker
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman 1958 | Director: Nathan H Juran
Young Frankenstein 1974 | Director: Mel Brooks
The Toxic Avenger 1984 | Directors: Joe Ritter, Lloyd Kaufman