Spooky Science at the Movies!: Week 5

Film, horror

By Christy Tidwell

This weekend is Halloween! To celebrate, I have two final movie recommendations to share. One is an all-time favorite of mine and probably no surprise to those who know me. The other is one of the scarier recent movies I’ve seen. Their premises are quite different, but both have science and technology at their core.

Classic Movie #5: Jurassic Park

Of course it’s Jurassic Park! Jurassic Park (1993, directed by Steven Spielberg) is an adventure movie featuring dinosaurs, a horror movie with terrifying monster attacks, and a science fiction movie that asks, “What if we could bring a creature back from extinction?” Jurassic Park is such a well-known part of US popular culture that it is a common reference point in discussions of scientific overreach and a familiar critique of the role of money in scientific research. “Spared no expense,” John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) repeats throughout – but the project still fails.

Jurassic Park is a reworking of Frankenstein with dinosaurs, and it is one of the best movies out there for raising important questions about scientific ethics while also being extraordinarily entertaining. If you haven’t seen it, now is the time! If you have already seen it, well, it’s always a good time to watch Jurassic Park again.

Official trailer for Jurassic Park (1993)

Contemporary Movie #5: Host

As Laura Kremmel noted in her recent post “High-Tech Spirits and Ghost Tours,” Host (2020, dir. Rob Savage) has been named as the scariest horror movie. It’s short (only 57 minutes!) and fun, but it definitely gets your heart pounding in that short running time. Host spends less time raising big issues about science than Jurassic Park and focuses more on scaring the audience, but the way it achieves its scares is worth noting from an STS perspective. Those scares are only possible through the technology of Zoom, and the audience’s ability to be scared by spirits via technology is a) definitely not new (as Laura Kremmel points out) and b) perhaps an indication of how mysterious the inner workings of these technologies are to most of us.

Official trailer for Host (2020)

Collected Movie Lists

This is the final entry in the series of STS-related horror movies for this season, so I’ll end by combining all the movies recommended and linking to the earlier posts.

Classic movies:

  1. Frankenstein (1931)
  2. Godzilla (1954)
  3. Phase IV (1974)
  4. The Fly (1986)
  5. Jurassic Park (1993)

Contemporary movies:

  1. Saint Maud (2019)
  2. Crawl (2019)
  3. In the Earth (2020)
  4. Annihilation (2018)
  5. Host (2020)

Happy Halloween, and happy viewing!