There Be Monsters
Part of the impetus of this series is a love of monster movies. The creepy crawlers, the homicidal maniacs, the madmen of cinema...
Being an American, I grew up with a pantheon of iconic horror figures. From Dracula to Jason and Freddy...the shadows of slashers and monsters loomed over every Halloween and the celluloid inspired nightmares of countless generations.
We wanted to have a mash up world of those monsters in our fictitious Monster New York. It would be easy enough to incorporate some of the ghoulish figures that have reigned supreme in Western horror, but in the desire to incorporate Asian perspectives (particularly Chinese) the notion came to include cinematic monsters that had haunted Asian audiences.
The problem is...there weren't that many.
Godzilla is a name we all recognize. A Japanese icon. Was there a Chinese equivalent? Interestingly enough, there was a shocking lack of horror movies within the Chinese culture. Song at Midnight, an adaptation of Phantom of the Opera, is a 1937 horror film that shocked Chinese audiences. Then...radio...or in this case...silver screen silence....
A recent rush of horror movies has hit the Chinese market, but for nearly 60 years...horror films were few and far between. Ghastly and horrific elements were implemented into other types of stories, but the relationship with jump scares and ghoulish fiends developed differently than it did in the Western psyche.
So, instead, of pulling from the films of Chinese horror cinema...we dove into the mythology, religious traditions, and urban legends that have been passed down for generations. The monsters that are deep rooted culturally in a different way are our building blocks. Hopefully we can retain their essential qualities and still make something new and compelling.