Showing the Monster

Today I was transcribing an old tape with quotes from John Carpenter about The Thing for an article I’m working on. He said what he wanted to do was show the monster to light—that it was an old Hollywood cliché that the monster must be hidden. This reminded me of when my best friend Susan and I were writing our screenplay about monsters in the New York City subway system. Her dad is a movie buff, and Susan asked him to take a look at what we had written. After he flipped through the first ten pages of our script, he tossed it aside and said we showed the monster too soon. We got a lot of flack from our classmates about this too, and that made us so mad because who said you couldn’t show the monster within the first ten minutes of a horror film? Where was this rule written down? I can remember one guy using Jaws as an example of when the monster should be shown (this particular guy also used to wear a hat with WRITER emblazoned across the front of it, which made my stomach turn). Susan and I knew Jaws, and we argued that the only reason the shark doesn’t appear until the end of the movie was because of mechanical difficulties during shooting. Our classmates didn’t care; they still insisted we showed our monsters too early. I feel vindicated now, hearing Carpenter’s words from four years ago.

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