Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Chicken Of The Sea (Is Me)

JA of My New Plaid Pants here, wishing a very merry vacation to Nathaniel, along with much thanks for allowing me to spread my nonsense even further across this crazy world wide web.

Perhaps it’s just because I finally watched An Inconvenient Truth this week, but news of Shamu* trying to drown his trainer this morning is making me feel antsy. Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin gets stabbed in the heart by a stingray, there are giant jellyfish swarming off of the coast of Japan… well, is anyone else feeling a bit 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea these days?

Homer was really on to something making Odysseus & friends have to pass between Scylla and Charybdis way back when – is there anything creepier than the sensation of something slimy slithering past your foot when you’re submerged in water? And the movies have fully embraced exploiting the terror of what’s just beneath that glimmering water’s surface. From that giant squid piling onto the sub during the climactic scene of 20,000 Leagues, to its multi-million dollar CG brother, The Kraken, in this past summer’s blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, we just need to face it: the sea monster is coming to get us all.

(*Okay, it wasn’t Shamu, it was another trained killer whale, named Kasatka, but it was in "Shamu Stadium" so close enough; if Shamu's lawyers contact me I'll make the necessary changes)

Here are some highlights from the sea monster’s many cinematic appearances through the years:

1933 – King Kong – The brontosaurus attacking the raft was always my favorite scene in the original, so I was pissed it got cut from Peter Jackson’s 12-hour remake. I guess something had to go so we could get more Jack Black mugging (the scene is apparently restored in the new, 47-hour DVD director's cut, though).

1954 – 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea – From IMDb: “Peter Lorre claimed that the giant squid got the role that was usually reserved for him.”

1955 - Bride of the Monster - Bela Lugosi wrestles with a plastic octopus in a mud puddle. (ETA - thanks to Steven @ The Horror Blog for the correction here - closet Wood fan no more!)

1966 – Godzilla Versus The Sea Monster – This is the one with the giant crab, right? All those Saturday matinee viewings have blended together. Godzilla giving the water-logged smack-down to a man in a crab costume was one of the more memorable moments, though.

1975 – Jaws – The shark, nicknamed Bruce, had three sequels written into his contract, so blame him!

1977 – Orca - A terrible Jaws rip-off, sure, but I think I must’ve seen it 20 times on HBO as a kid. Meaning that a key image of my development was a dying whale aborting its enormous fetus onto the deck of a ship. Hmm.

1981 – Piranha Part Two: The Spawning – Okay, the first movie’s actually a lot of cheesy fun, and I’ve never even seen the sequel - directed by JAMES CAMERON! sort of – but come on, the piranhas can fly! I vividly remember staring at the cover art for this movie in the video store as a kid, with the piranhas flapping their little fins and attacking people on the beach, and being mesmerized. I have to see this immediately.

1989 – The Abyss – James Cameron’s triumphant return to underwater thingamajigs!

1993 – Free Willy – Not exactly a monster movie, unless you felt your tear ducts were wrongly assaulted, but I know I'm not alone in having wished that damn fish would've ended up devouring that "lovable" little boy, right?

1997 – Anaconda – Jon Voight is REGURGITATED ALIVE. For this and this reason alone, this film will always hold a dear place in my (and probably Angelina Jolie’s) heart.

1999 – Deep Blue Sea – Thomas Jane. A pair of flimsy swimming trunks. A wet suit. Movie gold, people, movie gold.

2001 – Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Hobbits flung all akimbo by the Watcher in the Water. If that sentence is nothing but gobbledygook to you, you need to step up your geek-cred, my friend.

2003 – Finding Nemo – I still have nightmares about that mommy-eating barracuda in the opening scene.

2005 - The Squid and The Whale - Oh wait, nevermind.

2006 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – The Kraken snaps ships into bits with his enormous tentacled arms… but is it capable of love?

January, 2007 – The Host – The Korean blockbuster gets released here in the States, and I’m already ready to buy my ticket. Have you seen the trailer? Jinkies!

I’m surely missing important ones here (say, Harry Hamlin in a mini-skirt, or Betty White feeding a cow to a mutant crocodile, for starters); leave your favorite sea monster moment in the comments!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG! Lake Placid is so underrated!

Anonymous said...

OMG! Lake Placid is so underrated!

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean to leave two comments. But I also wanted to say I enjoy your website and that I love The Squid and The Whale.

Kamikaze Camel said...

LOL! Very funny JA.

A few things:

That giant jellyfish freaked me out when the image loaded.

Thomas Jane is hot with his shirt off and should do so in every movie he is in (which isn't very many these days, right?)

Piranha 2: The Spawning is not good in any camp so-bad-it's-good way. It's just really really really really really bad.

The funniest thing about Lake Placid was that Rose from the Golden Girls was the croc's foster mother. LOL.

And, also:

2007 - Rogue, Greg McLean's follow up to Wolf Creek features a man-eating crocodile in the Australian north. It eats people. That dude from Alias tries to save people. It's gonna be awesome.

Lyn said...

The best thing about Piranha II: the opening shot is a panning shot of an underwater ship, v.reminiscent of a later film by Mr Cameron that had a slightly higher budget. (Titanic! hee.)

The other best thing about PII: the way that every time someone is getting got by a fish, they have to hold it up to their jugular whilst they flail around with blood spurting everywhere. Hilarious!

And that's before you get into the mother/son incest subplot that I'm SURE wasn't only in my head.

Genius, y'all. Genius.

JA said...

Dang it, good call, kc, how'd I forget about Rogue? I'm dying to see that too. And you almost had me fooled not to watch PII, but Lyn, you reconvinced it's a must. I love some incest, esp. when mixed with faux-jugular-hugging-fish-fangs.

That's a combo not seen nearly enough, btw.

Anonymous said...

Holy shit, that image of an aborted killer whale fetus is a defining image of my development too! It's the only thing I remember of that movie, but the fact I remember it 20ish years later speaks to the power of that scene.

Anonymous said...

Hey! What about The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou? That shark was one tough mo-fo.

Steven said...

Bastard!