Friday, October 7, 2011

More Top Movies: Wallace and Gromit

Another medium that deals surprisingly frequently with themes of horror is animation. It shouldn’t be so surprising, though as the best children stories are always somewhat scary. That is the way stories should be if they want to entertain, inform, and moralize for children.

The “Wallace and Gromit” series of films is a great example of this idea. The four shorts and one feature staring the pair have all been inspired to one degree or another by horror fiction. The very first adventure had the pair flying to the moon and contending with an alien robot. Next they took on a lodger who turned out to be a murderous thief, and echoed a lot of early Hitchcock along the way. They then had to fight a lamb thief and a serial killer. (Yes, a serial killer!)

Their most elaborate and ambitious story to date was their full-length feature that spoofs old horror films in the Universal and Hammer vein, a gothic tale about a wererabbit terrorizing a village preparing to celebrate the annual harvest season.

This story is masterfully told. The scares are well done and have kids crawling into laps or behind furniture only to emerge un-traumatized once the jump has passed.

The humor is smart and funny. Consider the following scene: Wallace, the local humane exterminator, has sucked a whole warren of rabbits into a cage, and managed to also “capture” Lord Victor’s wig as he was trying to kill the pests.

Lord Victor “I want... [lowers voice] toupee, please.”
Wallace “Oh, grand. We take checks or cash.”
Lord Victor “Toupee, you idiot!" My hair is in your machine.”
Wallace “Oh, no, it's only rabbits in there. The hare, I think you'll find, is a much larger mammal.” 

The backdoor, hidden message in the whole story is really secondary to the entertainment, but it is still good. When others are ruining or threatening your way of life, the easy ways to deal with them would be to kill them, drive them off, or force them to live your way. The better choice, for people who respect and desire freedom, is not as easy. It involves work, understanding and may cause you to have to change the way you do things after all.

The "Serial Killer" short is another "horror" worth checking out, as are all of their films really...

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