After a harrowing day Sunday, it was time for some comfort cinema with a couple of older movies, and one new one.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Sunday night, I fell back on a guilty pleasure. Godzilla: Final Wars is the latest, and supposedly the last in the Godzilla series. This is by no means a good movie, but then, very few Godzilla movies are. The main pull of any Godzilla movie is the battle between Godzilla and the monster du jour. And this movie, that pits Godzilla against just about every monster Toho Pictures every created (and one American Godzilla from Sony) it not lacking in giant monster combat action. Throw in aliens, flying submarines and mutants, and you have the whole amusement park.
Monday turned into a double feature. First up, Absentia, a low budget horror movie from 2011. Tricia’s husband has been missing for seven years. With the help of her sister, Callie, she prepares to move on by having him declared dead in absentia. As Tricia struggles with her decision, often confronting hallucinations of her husband, Callie, dealing with her own troubles, starts to experience strange happenings surrounding a tunnel near her sister’s apartment.
Where Godzilla: Final Wars is full out monster, Absentia is played very low key, which actually works for the better. The strange events that happen are underplayed, yet work to build the uneasiness that permeates the movie. The movie twists and turns, making you wonder if the creepiness is real, or imagined, either my the over stressed Tricia, or by Callie, who fights her own demons.
Finally, I went for a real classic of monster cinema. The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms is suggested by a story by Ray Bradbury, and features the special effects of Hollywood master Ray Harryhausen. While overseeing atomic tests in the Arctic, an atomic scientist barely escapes with his life, claiming to have seen a monster. Wanting to prove that he did not imagine it, he tracks down the monster as it makes its way to New York. Naturally, with these types of movies, the monster goes on a rampage in New York, bringing with him destruction and death from the past.
Unlike the Godzilla movies, which have almost exclusively used actors in costumes for their monsters, this monster is brought to life by one of the masters of stop motion special effects, Ray Harryhausen. As with a lot of his work, the creature takes on a life and personality of its own, becoming as much of one of the cast as anyone else in the movie.