This week, there was a faux-heated debate in THE GUARDIAN between two fathers over the scares in the recent series of Dr Who, suggesting that they are now too frightening for young children. I was struck by argument put forward by the father who thought they had gone too far by the use of effects: “In the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker eras, there was a clearer realisation that the monsters were men in in rubber suits.”
This argument is interesting in light of The Thing from another world – is it ok to show men in monster suits at tea time?
1) The gill-man in THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) is the missing link between land mammals and creatures from the deep. It was one of my favourites when repeated at BBC2 tea-time in the 1980s and later I was struck by its resemblance to David Mellor. I even liked it when they dressed him in a tux (the gill-man that is, not David Mellor).
2) DR WHO AND THE DALEKS (1965) – how do we make our monsters look less like men in suits? I know, let’s give them wheels! Terry Nation’s gift to the nation. Sink plungers have never looked so menacing.
3) Sweetums from THE MUPPET MOVIE (1979) etal. Muppetry is one of my enduring affections and one of my favourites from the cast is this z-list muppet who lumbers on screen for the title sequence and lumbers out of the screen (literally) at the end of the 3D experience in Florida.
4) STAR WARS (1977) Chewbacca is a brilliantly expressive costume and utterly convincing as long as you don’t dwell too long on his shoe-like feet.
5) GODZILLA (1954) the original suit-a-mation with a guy twitching in a martial arts style over a hornby train set. Lets face it, the metaphor of a nuclear threat over Japan is a bit old hat isn’t it (irony alert).