Luke Owen counts down to Pacific Rim by looking at some of his favourite giant monsters….
Kaiju: The Japanese word for “strange beast”. However, the word Kaiju has been universally translated and defined into English as “monster” or “giant monster”.
I absolutely love Frank Darabont’s The Mist. Love it. It’s easily in my top 5 horror movies of all time and it has the potential to break into the top 10 ever should I ever put that list down down on paper. Unlike a lot of horror movies (especially those in the mainstream) that bow down to the ‘happy ending’ conventions, The Mist throws everything you’ve ever known about survival horror and takes it apart piece by piece. However The Mist doesn’t feel like a survival movie – it feels like genuine survival.
And while fear and paranoia (or more specifically mass paranoia) are the real monsters of The Mist, there are physical manifestations in the form of the alien creatures that attack our would be survivors. As a plot point, this could be considered weak as the idea that there is nothing outside is a stronger and a more clever look at our culture, but the monsters are so well designed and portrayed that it doesn’t really matter. One of the brilliant things about The Mist‘s monsters is that it doesn’t matter what size they are, they’re all just as deadly and all will eventually kill you. But of course, being that this is a giant monster list, I had to pick one of the big muthas. Enter – the Arachni-Lobster.
I mentioned in my piece on Them! that part of the movie’s brilliance is that the ants don’t show up until the end of the first third and that by keeping them off screen, the tension was heightened. The Mist takes this idea to the next level by only having their giant monsters come out when the story needs them. As I said earlier, the fear and paranoia of our characters are what eventually lead to their downfall, so Darabont didn’t need to rely on these creatures for the scares. As the age old adage goes, ‘what you don’t see is scarier than what you do’.
This is at the very heart of the Arachni-Lobster and why it works so well as a giant monster. We only see the creature in two scenes throughout the entire movie and even then it’s kept deep in the mist, never giving us a full view of what it really looks like. Furthermore, Arachni-Lobster is the only monster who gets this treatment. We get much clearer views of every other monster The Mist has to offer, but this devastating killer is kept to the imagination of the viewer. And in the two scenes we do see him – he kills people and then leaves back into the mist that shrouds him in secrecy. Show up, kill, leave.
I had two other choices from this marvellous movie to enter into my Kaiju Hall of Fame, but I felt Arachni-Lobster was the best of the bunch. The Behemoth is without a shadow of a doubt a formidable sight, but the creature is used as a sense of wonderment of just how big these creatures can be rather than a source or terror. Its design is cool, but it doesn’t carry the same aura as Arachni-Lobster. The same goes for the Tentacle (otherwise known as The Tentacle From Planet X) who gives us our first real action scene in the warehouse. Much like The Behemoth, its design is cool and really, really scary but we see all too much of it.Plus, the CGI sadly doesn’t do the creature justice. What I do like about the Tentacle however is that we never find out what it was attached too which does give it a good sense of mystery.
But while I can praise these creatures for various reasons, neither of them compare to Arachni-Lobster. Easily the most terrifying creature in Darabont’s The Mist and one of the best giant monsters of all-time. Its mysterious, its deadly and its everything we fear.
Oh, and if you’ve not seen The Mist, do so right now.
Luke Owen is one of Flickering Myth’s co-editors and the host of the Month in Review show for Flickering Myth’s Podcast Network. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.