Friday, January 11, 2013

Monsterology: Attack the Block and Frank Frazetta

So I just got done watching Attack the Block (2011), Joe Cornish's entertaining alien invasion flick which featured some impressive practical puppet effects and expertly crafted suspense, among other things. In the film the extraterrestrials were described at a few points as being "wolves," and their Dayglo-blue teeth and shaggy, raven mane made them both legitimately fearsome and refreshingly unique. Here's one of them now.

Scary bugger, ain't he? But while I was watching the movie, every time one of the "wolves" appeared onscreen, my mind repeatedly went back to this:

That's a gorgeous layout from the first issue of Warren's Creepy magazine, art provided by comics legend Frank Frazetta. I remember reading this story for the first time, and though it was short on words, Frazetta' artwork did enough of the talking for it. Before then I had never looked at a piece of horror comic artwork and felt the enormity of the victims' situation. I mean, look at that. Those guys are totally in for it. We know it. It sinks in. The utter physical prowess that Frazetta's werewolf emanates is enough to make me feel weak, even though it's only in two dimensions.

They may not exactly be kissing cousins, but they achieve that same "we're-just-meat-on-the-food-chain" effect through very similar means. Glowing, expressionless "eyes." Long, sharp claws. Liquid fur the color of the shadows that trace your every step. Frazetta's beast is pretty revolutionary when you think about it, taking into consideration that the term "werewolf" was synonymous with "guy in torn clothes with yak hair glued to his face." Frazetta imbues his lycanthrope with a primal bestiality, one that makes it a worthy foe in the hunt. This ain't no Lawrence Talbot. It's a jacked-up saber tooth tiger that we have to face down with a gun that begins to look and feel like an awful lot like the sharp stone our cavemen ancestors were forced to face down similar monsters with. The protagonists in Attack the Block (should be call them Blockheads?) are those same cavemen, fending off extraterrestrial carnivores with nothing but firecrackers and baseball bats.

Cornish has his heroes save the day, but things don't end so well for Frazetta's hunter. Nor many other would-be saviors in Attack the Block. Whether from the vast eternity of space or the demon-haunted valleys of Africa, the wolf will always be there to remind us who really rules the kingdom.


Gabriel said...

Saw that movie about a year ago, but i still recall those 'wolves'. That's a pretty good comparison. Frazetta's monster does seem like an inspiration for the glowing fanged monsters of Attack the Block.

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Yüz Germe

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