Join film historian Max Alvarez for a romp through the weird, blood-curdling, and often downright outrageous netherworld of classic movie monsters. While the concept of the “monster” can be traced to mythology and legend—from the multi-headed serpents of ancient Greece and China to the dragons of Persian and Arabian folklore—creatures were present at the very dawn of cinema in the late 1890s. Since that time, the film world has gone through sporadic cycles of monsterdom: Universal in the 1930s and ’40s, Toho in the 1950s and ’60s, and the succession of computer-generated horrors that have flourished during the 21st century.
In a rich multimedia presentation featuring film selections and behind-the-scenes secrets of legendary and notorious creature features, Alvarez traces the movie monster from the early silent era (including Thomas Edison’s 1910 Frankenstein and F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu). He then focuses on the Universal monster cycle launched in the early 1930s and the subsequent Cold War–era cycle creature chillers (i.e., The Thing, Creature from the Black Lagoon) and the Japanese monster movie and its family of destructive creatures—including Gojira, Mothra, and Rodan—that set cinema screens ablaze during the 1950s and ’60s. And although movie monsters faced serious underemployment during the 1970s, he examines how Ridley Scott’s bloodcurdling Alien gave renewed life to the genre and a pre-CGI James Cameron brought dignity to hand-crafted horrors in his late-’80s sequel, Aliens.