The James Clayton Column: Love and other monsters

James cuts through the tackiness of Valentines Day by writing a few poems of admiration to some of Hollywood's most desirable monsters...

Valentine’s Day. Ouch. This is the real weepy and tragic part at the beginning of the story, oh my brothers and only friends, where your humble narrator starts boo-hoo-hooing and cries his little glazzies out.

No, it’s not a real horrorshow day of romance, flowers and fuzzy warbles, my droogies, if you’re a lonely single person. There’s no chance of the old in-out-in-out for the unloved and ugly on the 14th February.

But, hey, never mind. I’ll exorcise the sexual frustration with some ultraviolence and take comfort in the knowledge that absolutely no one is having a good time.

While all the singletons are sat at home blubbing in front of Never Been Kissed or Carrie, (or maybe even A Clockwork Orange, if they are sick individuals who get their kicks from depraved ultraviolence) all the smug couples are enduring awkward, over expensive dates.

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The whole Lady And The Tramp spaghetti-sharing fantasy is a great big lie. The inevitable outcome is spilled wine, misplaced orders, arguments over who’s paying the bill and resentment over the Pirates Of The Caribbean pencil case that’s meant to qualify as a romantic gift. Then it’s back to someone’s place (not tidied, of course) for some angry, meaningless sex, followed by an unplanned pregnancy and, nine months later, the dreaded birth of Damien.

It’s no fun at all, and those who haven’t yet quite hooked their desired lover go through even more grief around Valentine’s Day. They actively have to try and convincingly impress someone, which is a nausea-inducing ordeal of attempting to look cool in the face of crippling self-doubt and humiliation.

Am I being too clingy? Am I moving too fast? Should I beat up their evil ex-boyfriends/girlfriends or introduce myself to their parents first? These are the kind of conundrums that come attached to Cupid’s arrows and send perfectly sane and rational people silly.

Chances are the outcome is a bad date at a badly picked movie, like Travis Bickle taking Betsy to see a Swedish porno in Taxi Driver, or Micky taking an unimpressed Charlene to watch Belle Époque in The Fighter. (“I had to read the whole fucking movie! It didn’t even have good sex!”)

A celebration of love? Valentine’s Day appears more like a black hole designed to suck up love and send people into states of loathing, alienation and despair. Only greeting cards companies and condom manufacturers are smiling.

I guess the sensible option is just shuffling off to spend some time with a movie in an attempt to shrug off the loneliness, preferably one with car crashes and kung fu sequences.

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If I go out to the cinema on February 14th, I can catch Paul, the new movie featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, on its day of release. The film’s a sci-fi road trip comedy and not immediately obvious as a film that studios would select to send out to theatres on Valentine’s Day. Initially, it might seem that releasing it on a memorable date might just be a smart marketing move, but, in truth, it’s appropriate. Paul is the perfect feature for this calendar pinpoint and has come to us from the stars with messages of love.

The bromance of Pegg and Frost is legendary and their mutual affection for each other is the reason why Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz offer the most beautiful portraits of pure friendship in recent cinema history. That’s love as in platonic love, but it’s still sweet love, effervescent with the warmth of human spirit and companionship.

Considering the movie’s timely arrival in relation to sex, one of the taglines for Paul is “ever felt a little alien?” This isn’t just loaded innuendo slyly asking if you’ve ever molested an extraterrestrial midget. It’s a challenging statement urging the masses to realise that we live in a universe full of love.

Perhaps Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be about tacky cards, chocolate boxes and trite efforts to pay lip service to those you fancy or are in a relationship with. More than corniness, smut and shallow gestures, it should embrace a greater love beyond romance and encompass the whole of humanity and, indeed, the Universe.

I’m not suggesting that you should throw yourself into a Dionysian orgy or spontaneously jet off into space to search for an alien to kiss. What I’m saying is, in defiance of the despair that this ‘holiday’ conjures up, we should all hail the concept of love and celebrate the creatures and things that we adore unconditionally.

Because, if you’ll allow me a giddy Moulin Rouge! dancing-on-top-of-a-jewelled elephant musical moment, love is like oxygen, love lifts us up where we belong and all you need is love.

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Let’s all praise love and laud whoever or whatever we passionately admire, whether that be a romantic partner, friend, family member, animal, abstract concept or an inanimate object.

Personally, I love movie monsters. I have a deep affinity for the creatures of the silver screen and empathise with them as unloved, misunderstood loners who inspire dread and horror just because they’re different.

Well, my lovelies, in spite of all the screams that greet you every time you leap out, I’m going to send sweetness and affection your way on Valentine’s Day. Everyone deserves to be loved and that includes the ugly oddities that populate horror and fantasy cinema.

Because I’m a sentimental and sappy soul, I’ve penned the following bits of bad romance poetry to pay tribute to the monsters that have moved me and mean so much to me…

Bride Of Frankenstein

Statuesque cheekbones,

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Hair like a beehive,

Electrical touch,

Makes me feel alive.

The Wolf Man

Howling at the moon,

I’m not fazed by your curse,

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If you’ll be my lycanthrope,

I’ll be your nurse.

Gill Man from Creature From The Black Lagoon

You send my heart swimming,

Love creature with gills,

Drag me down to your depths,

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Show me Amazon thrills.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Beloved brown wrinkly,

Finger all aglow,

Always, I’ll be right here,

Wherever you go.

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Brundlefly from The Fly

Your skin’s moist and sticky,

Oh, sweet Brundlefly,

Come down from the ceiling,

And please be my guy.

Wikus from District 9

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Now that you’re a prawn,

You’re left on your own,

But I’ll hold your claw,

Through the alien zone.

So, there you have it. That’s my appreciative blast of affection offered openly and unconditionally to the monsters out there. I share this love with you all, and love you all too. Happy Valentine’s Day.

James’ previous column can be found here.

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You can reach James on his Twitter feed here, see his film cartoons here and more sketches here.

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