This year Townsville Classic Films will lure viewers back into Denham Lane.
But what lurks in the dark, obscured by shadows?
What’s sending ripples up the spine and causing those tiny hairs on the back of your neck to bristle?
It’s some of the most iconic monster movies of all time!
We caught up with Mark Enders to understand why film-goers have been enthralled by the macabre for so long.
How did you go from hosting a Film Noir series in 2017 to a Monsters series this year?
After last year’s Film Noir series, we had five special guests choose the films for another five screenings we’d had planned and Bruce Beresford chose Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; its sort of a horror film and I just thought yeah, Film Noir is sort of lanway-ish, and similarly with those creepy monster movies you sort of feel like you’re going down a dark laneway and something’s going to grab you, so it fit. A lot of people are familiar with the likes of Frankenstein and Dracula.
Do you find that even though people know the general gist of the story, they often haven’t seen the film?
I’m sure they haven’t seen the films. They’ve probably seen the story told in some different way, shape or form. Hopefully some of the people who went and saw the Theatre iNQ performance [of Frankenstein] last year, come along to see this film. Equally there’s been sort of more recent iterations of Frankenstein that people would be familiar with, but it’s really interesting going back to the ’31 version – the make-up was a little more rudimentary, but the acting’s amazing and the sets and photography are amazing as well. It’s a really different experience I think, that people mightn’t necessarily have had before and hopefully they’ll develop a new appreciation for older versions.
Is this the version of Frankenstein with the iconic bolts in the neck? Where did that idea come from given Mary Shelley never mentions bolts in the original novel?
It is! I don’t know about the bolts though. It’s interesting – [In the book,] Frankenstein’s brought to life, he escapes, he kind of learns English by watching this farming community, then he goes back to Dr Frankenstein and says that he’s lonely and he deserves to have love and a bride. And Dr Frankenstein makes him a Mrs Frankenstein, but then he has this thought about what
happens if they start having Baby Frankensteins, so he kills the female. The film’s intriguing because he makes this wife of Frankenstein and she comes to life and she sees him and she’s horrified. She wants nothing to do with him. It’s quite a comic tragedy, but it’s a really engaging film.
Why do these 80-odd year-old Monster films, adapted from even older stories, still strike a chord with audiences today?
I think Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has an underlying story there about the dual nature of humanity and about as much as we can be really wonderful people, we can have a nasty side as well and that’s very true. I think Frankenstein was a morality tale about being careful about what you do with science, playing God in a sense. I think Dracula was kind of based on a true story that in Romania somewhere there was a Prince or a Count who was quite vicious – he killed a lot of his enemies and stuck their heads on stakes, so the blood thirstiness of that was brought out in Dracula. The Wolf Man is again a bit of a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde story and I’m actually a very big fan of The Creature from the Black Lagoon. I don’t know that a lot of people have seen it, they probably think it’s quite silly, but it’s not! I guess some of the things about it are quite funny in that in all of these films aliens come to earth and want to take our women away, and the monsters appear and want to take our women away as well, you wonder if that’s something about the ‘50s and this kind of concern that was elicited in Film Noir that women were becoming more independent and more powerful and didn’t need men anymore.
Do you expect to draw a different type of viewer to this series?
I know there are some people who really love horror, but I suspect they’ll have a different idea of what horror is. Modern day horror is very much things jumping out at you and guts and power tools and stuff like that, so maybe those people will develop a different appreciation for horror films as well.
You mentioned Hitchcock’s 39 Steps, is that part of the same Monster series?
No. We’re going to run the Monsters up until the ‘50s, which includes The Creature from the Black Lagoon and then we thought we’d move into more modern day monsters, so we’ve got Psycho, Norman Bates was a monster of sorts; there’s a film from 1973 called Badlands, I think it’s Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek and they’re this young couple down in Nebraska, they’re a bit wild and they end up on this kind of road trip-slash-murder spree, so I guess they’re a kind of monster as well. And then The Shining, which I actually can’t watch, it freaks me out too much.
It’s interesting that up until the ‘50s we have aliens and mythological creatures; and as we move into more contemporary films the humans are the monsters.
Yeah! That’s true, that’s true. I guess in the ‘30s and ‘40s and ‘50s the monsters were a surrogate for humans in a lot of ways.
For information about Townsville Classic Films’ Monster series, and their other screenings, visit www.townsvilleclassicfilms.com.au