I created this journal over two years ago and never posted a thing. Lack of inspiration perhaps, or to be honest, I never really knew what to write about. What to focus on. Until today, when I woke up and felt an urge to write about dinosaurs. That’s right, velociraptors to be precise. Starting off with a roar, eh? Clever girl….
In 1993, when I was ten, I first saw Jurassic Park in the cinema and I loved it. I was terrified, but loved the dinosaurs in non-cuddly, going-to-piss-myself-kind of way. The scene where the T-Rex bows down behind the car window is something I still frequently reenact in my dreams. Often when I sleep in a house where my window is on the first floor, I have a recurring dream of a tyrannosaurus crouching behind my closed window while I sleep, breathing its terrifying, smelly carnivore’s breath on the glass. (Luckily my dream world has been always faithful to the first Jurassic Park film in which the T-rex can only sense movement. I try to lie totally still, not moving a muscle. So far I have survived all my dinosaur nights without being torn to pieces).
The fear Jurassic Park awoke in me as a child was definitely the opening notes of the symphony of terror I later came to experience with Alien – a film a learned to love later in life, once I was finally able to watch the film without hiding under a blanket. I was no longer only afraid of monsters, I learned to appreciate them.
The most terrifying creatures in Jurassic Park were the velociraptors. They were all female, all very clever and deadly. Unlike their more animalistic counterparts (such as the T-Rex who would react only to movement), the raptors were portrayed as highly intelligent and, though larger than human, small enough to chase after our heroes in small closed spaces and corridors. They could open doors, jump high, and work together in groups making them lethal, perfect predators.
Raptors Holmes and Watson working together in the JP kitchens. Who dropped the ladle?
After the first Jurassic Park film, the cinematic fate of the raptors was much like the Alien’s Xenomorphs’ Alien 3 onwards. In the following sequels there were more monsters, that were faster and shinier than in the original. And as we all know, more doesn’t usually mean better. We don’t want our monsters, or our characters, to be totally expendable and lacking personality! In the second Jurassic Park film, the feared velociraptor had turned from an apex predator into a goofball (a goofball that can be beat with high school gymnastics – if you have seen the film I’m sure you know what I mean).
This morning, when I awoke from a dream where I was being chased by my sharp-toothed friends, I could not but wonder what are the new creatures that frighten our socks off and leave us afraid of the dark? Are there new creatures that level with the good old Jaws, the xenomorphs, or my friends the raptors? The past decade has had the most advanced technologies at its use but yet the monsters are often, well, not that scary. There might be hundreds of monsters in a single CGI shot but they are not memorable. One does rise up from the masses though: Guillermo del Toro’s magnificent Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno, 2006), portrayed by Doug Jones (who also plays the Faun in the film).
For those of you who haven’t yet seen the film, I highly recommend it. It is a beautiful, touching story and probably one of the best films of the decade. The Pale Man is frightening not only because of how he looks but how he moves. There is an entire scene where he just sits motionless at the end of a table, and then when he finally does move…
Ofelia and the Pale Man, just sitting still
Had I seen Pan’s Labyrinth anytime before my 20’th birthday, I’m pretty sure would have never been able to eat grapes again… The Pale Man is the kind of monster you will not forget after seeing him in action.
And what is that on the table in front of the Pale Man… that yummy looking dessert? Could that be, umm…jello?
Eating green jello in Jurassic Park