This fall, Andrew Stevens has launched a monster movie night film series, in tandem with his elective English class, “Monsters in Literature.” The series, like the class, explores a variety of different monsters and their different functions, as well as various aspects of horror.
Stevens shares about his monster film series: “I wanted the film series to be more international so that there’s a sense of how global and pervasive monsters are.” He says, “We started with Night of the Living Dead because it’s this B Movie classic that ends up becoming so much more than its genre. I love it for all its genre thrills but the beautiful black and white lighting just mesmerizes me. The film’s complex themes around racial hierarchy in America demonstrate what horror has always done in America: talk about what we least want to mention.”
The film series runs in tandem with themes discussed in the course, but Stevens assures that students do not need to be a part of the class to participate. “I love monsters so much,” he says, “It’s also just an excuse to extend monster experiences to the larger community.”
Stevens is still trying to figure out what exactly about monsters fascinates him. “They are at once ancient and modern. I think anytime a monster is in a story, I know that I’m going to have a good time. It’s funny, I don’t spend too much time thinking about why. I’m usually searching out the next monster and just enjoying myself,” he explains.
Stevens loves every movie in this selection, but Night of the Living Dead has a special place in his heart. He watched Night of the Living Dead in high school and wrote a column about monster movies for his high school newspaper. He comments, “In some ways, this is a long-term dream come true.”
He thinks that each of the films featured has something to say about how power functions, which is part of the reason they are so valuable. “Whether it’s the fascist colonel in Pan’s Labyrinth, the upstairs downstairs dynamic in Night, or the military exploitation in The Host, you learn the guises of power,” he says. “The monster is rarely the monster, in terms of what we expect. In many ways, the monsters simply hide what is actually monstrous: the crowd; the facist; the systemic abuses. We know this, but we always need the information in new clothes, fangs, or claws.”