Profundity, Science Fiction, and Ski Masks
September 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
I am by no means a horror movie fan. Mere previews have been known to catapult my pulse into zones of cardiac arrest. As such, the last place I expected to find myself Tuesday night was watching ‘The Crazies’ in the basement of Hank-Ingram house. But insistent friends and a piqued curiosity prevailed over my better judgment. Needless to say, my presence contributed to a vociferous evening.
I left movie night with an elevated pulse rate and a hoarse voice, but also a few unexpected insights. It struck me that the premise of this film bore a striking resemblance to many of the great SF stories we are reading in class. ‘The Crazies”, not unlike “Air Raid” or “The Brooklyn Project”, explores the repercussions of overstepping social boundaries. Thus, there exists a noticeable overlap between the two genres. I’m not asserting that horror films boast any grand artistic merit, but the horror industry has adopted many of the same thematic concepts as SF: fear of scientific progress, the social consequences of a meddling government, and humanity brought to ruin by its own innovations. In Tuesday night’s film, a plane carrying a newly engineered biological super weapon crashes outside a small town in Iowa. The virus contaminates the water supply leading to a citywide pandemic of mental degradation, insanity, and anarchy. Although exaggerated for cinematic aesthetics (and supplemented with considerable blood and gore), the thematic foundation of this film is not so utterly far-fetched. It is very plausible that genetic mutations or military weapons could one day threaten the stability of our society. “The Brooklyn Project” explores a likewise similar thematic concept by satirizing the government’s attempts to control the time-continuum. In using time travel for military gain, the government ultimately disfigures the human race into a mass of mutated, gelatinous blobs. Analogous fears resound in “Air Raid” when humanity is racked by a horrible, unidentified genetic mutation. In all three of these stories, the thematic undertones resonate as both alarms and as moral admonitions. Society is responsible for its actions and for the consequences of those actions. It is when these actions bode of destruction that our futures look most bleak. From both the literature of SF and mass market cinematography, it is evident that humanity is frightened: of the unknown, of the government’s role in accelerating a dismal future, and of a potential, very plausible demise.