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Thursday, November 12, 2020

How ‘Little Monsters’ and ‘Nightbreed’ Use Monsters as an Escape from Real World Horrors

The real world can be scary. Life can be hard and challenging in ways we don’t expect. And 2020 is living proof that we don’t always know how to navigate the hardships of unexpected events in our lives. But what if there was an escape? A place where you could move beyond all the hardships and learn to navigate the challenges you face. But most of all, what if this place was run by monsters? Would it be more terrifying than issues found in the real world such as divorce? Mental illness? The loss of a loved one? Or could it be something more…

Little Monsters and Nightbreed, respectively released in 1989 and 1990, pose this question. Upon reflection these movies in particular present the same general ideas about finding an escape from life’s hardships in a world inhabited by monsters, which in itself could be viewed as an allegory for horror movies and the comfort they bring us in troubling times.

In Little Monsters we follow Brian Stevenson (Fred Savage), an outsider who’s just moved to the suburbs of Boston. With not many friends, Brian feels displaced and lacks a sense of belonging. After an intense argument with his dad (Daniel Stern) and a fight at school with a bully, he meets Maurice (Howie Mandel), a monster that lives in a hidden world underneath his bed. This world presents itself as a ’90s kid’s fantasy with all the video games, junk food, and destruction that you could ever want. With the knowledge of this Brian is drawn to the monster’s world night after night. When Brian’s parents tell him they’re considering getting a divorce, he’s unsure how to properly navigate the situation and his emotions around it so he turns to Maurice and the unknown world for escape and comfort.

Eventually the worlds collide when the leader of the underworld, Boy (Rick Ducommun), kidnaps Brian’s younger brother Eric (Ben Savage). With this problem, Brian is forced to confront his issues of belonging and family by recruiting his acquaintances from school and Maurice to infiltrate the world and save his brother. Being successful, Brian soon realizes that his own world isn’t as hopeless as he thought, and he bids a tearful goodbye to Maurice – who reminds him that he’s “always a bed away”.

Little Monsters offers the worldview of children and pre-teens and how they cope with such massive life changes. A divorce can have a tremendous impact on the life of a child, so in a way it’s not surprising that Brian sought escape from his problems in a spooky world full of monsters. Eventually though he learns the valuable lesson that sometimes you have to accept life changes and face the problems in your life no matter how difficult they may seem. Despite its sometimes heavy themes, Little Monsters never forgets its light-hearted tone, forever cementing it as a family horror classic that resonates with many people to this very day.

On the other side of the same coin we have Clive Barker‘s Nightbreed.

This time we follow Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer), who is struggling with his mental health and being manipulated by his psychiatrist Dr. Decker (David Cronenberg). With an unknown serial killer running loose in the city targeting families, Decker manages to convince Boone that he’s the killer using nefarious means. Taking refuge in a cemetery he finds a hidden city called Midian, inhabited by the Nightbreed, grotesque monsters who take refuge there. Initially refusing him inside as he is a normal human, Boone dies and is reborn as one of them.

Going forward Nightbreed takes the idea of monsters as an escape and amps it up a notch by making them the heroes and the humans the villains. One could argue that some of the most heinous and vile acts of the film are portrayed by humans in the real world, providing an allegory that I’ll reiterate once again: the real world can be a scary and vile place. With the help of the Nightbreed, Boone is able to confront Decker and in the process the world of Midian is destroyed. Taking on the name of Cabal, he and the rest of the Breed are returned to the real world to find a new home. Boone finally being able to return to the world reinforces the idea that eventually we’re forced to face our demons and move forward with our lives despite the situation we’re placed in.

LITTLE MONSTERS Via MGM

While being similar in many ways to Little Monsters, Nightbreed never forgets its intended demographic. Despite being filled with blood and gore, the film tackles more adult themes such as mental illness, the loss of someone you love, displacement, and to an extent profiling based on one’s looks. Boone found his escape from the problems of the real world but in turn used it as positive reinforcement to solve those problems while carving out a new path for himself and his future, which is an entirely valid option in itself.

Little Monsters and Nightbreed play like two sides of the same coin. Using literal monster worlds as a sanctuary from the problems of the real world, while also reinforcing the idea that eventually we can take our own worlds back. To me this mirrors the plight of many horror fans, who often use horror movies as an escape and comfort in especially turbulent times. We may not have extravagant worlds such as these, but we’ll always have the movies. You can use them as an escape from the horrors of the real world, or use them to provide catharsis with real life issues you struggle with. The choice is ours to make and whatever the outcome, these movies will always be there for us. To comfort us, and to help us through our own horror stories.

In a weird way, sometimes I feel right at home with the monsters.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3641297/little-monsters-nightbreed-use-monsters-escape-real-world-horrors/

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