Allegory is a one-stop port to credibility for the 'genre' movie. I say genre because it seems the polite and dignified way to put it, and has none of the implied ickyness that comes the term 'horror' movie. Its a great way for people to talk about horror without having to actually talk about it, not to dissimilar to when zombies are re branded as ' The Infected' or 'Ghouls' to avoid the kitsch factor that inevitably comes to pass when forced to say the word zombie. And seeing as were dealing with allegory, which is the critically appraised habit of speaking in metaphor, that seemed an appropriate way to ice-break. Anyway, the great thing about allegory is that you get the best of both worlds, you get to make important political points and scathing social commentary by means of people chopping each other to bits and getting eaten by monsters. Intellectualism by way of evisceration. The wonder that movies can be. SPOILER WARNING.
Poor Ripley. You float 85 years in space, get told your kid has died of old age, get manipulated into being an adviser on a mission to save some colonists who tried to settle on LV-426 (Morons.) by everyone's favorite yuppie Carter Burke, watch the force of the American military get destroyed by a mixture of their own arrogance and slimy green things. become a surrogate mother to some random girl with a retarded name like Newt and a girlfriend to Kyle Reese only for them both to be killed in the opening seconds of Alien 3. Girl can't catch a break.
What its really about?
Vietnam. In which America tried to enforce their will on a distant land (read colonists on LV-426), got royally slaughtered (read Alien infestation), sent in the marines to sort shit and leave it to their commie god to sort them out, except it didn't work ( Read the aliens fucking up the majority of the soldiers) and thus Vietnamese and Americans killed each other until America had enough ( Read when Signourney Weaver has had enough) . The soldiers get disillusioned and the civilians disagree with their tactics ( Sigourney Weaver rips Gorman a new one. Oh Gorman.) , believing the war to be about petty political and financial motivation that doesn't have the people at its heart (Read Carter Burke = US Government, selling a good story but secretly just wanting the alien Eggs to make a weapon, and fuck anyone who gets in his way). With patriotism wearing thin the Americans Napalm the shit out of them (SW nukes the whole planet I believe.) and sulk off back to their homeland. And so James Cameron made his Vietnam movie in subtext.
6) Ginger Snaps
This film about two sisters fascinated by all things death, only for their life to take a turn for the ironic when one of them gets bitten by a werewolf. Bloodshed and Gore ensue.
What its really about?
The process of female puberty. Or when a girl becomes a woman, and the kicking and screaming that goes with it. In this movie conveyed by wolfing out. I guess horror isn't really the genre to whine about subtelty, but a biological event that happens every month ( or lunar cycle), leading to mood swings and attacking people who don't deserve it? This is allegory who's point you won't miss. Good movie though.
5) Night of the Living Dead
George Romero loved him some allegory, and every Dead movie is making some sort of sociological point in between, ahem, choking on them. The first one though, is surely just some zombie siege movie. No complexity here, just guys holed up in a farmhouse smacking down zombies with tire irons. Surely.
What Its really about?
Racism in 60's America. Oh come on. That's reaching. Except its not. Admittedly the first twenty minutes maybe is just your standard surface level ghoulfest but once we're introduced to Ben ( Read an educated black generation) , a black twenty-something who's adapting to this whole zombie situation really, really well. First saving Barbra from about 5 zombies and her own high pitched whining, then fortifying the house, figuring out a Zombie Achilles heal , finding a gun and discovering more survivors. Its safe to assume a dude know what he's doing. But White middle-class patriarch Cooper ( Read the racist and backward sect of white America) just can't accept this. He should be the one in charge and making the decisions (Read White resistance to black civil rights movements). Not this jumped up colored boy. To paraphrase. Cooper's conviction that he'd rather die then concede any ground to this man, inevitably leads to everyone getting slaughtered but plucky Ben. Who is duly shot in the head by some white farmer the minute he steps outside. Making the point that racism and hatred runs thicker then blood, or even the need to kill zombies.
4) Peeping Tom
One of the classic serial killer movies. Perverted sicko goes about killing women, filming it and watching it back. To see if he missed anything I guess. Nice guy.
What its really about?
Voyeurism of the storyteller. Sure voyeurism is a theme that Peeping Tom makes no effort to hide, but our man Mark's kind of watching is a stand in for Michael Powell's main theme, which is coming to terms with the voyeuristic nature of his life's work. The fabrication of emotions, characters and situations, often involving suffering, death and pain that he watched in silence while the cameras rolled. This is true of every aspect of storytelling. The writer lovingly creates his characters only to force upon them emotional turmoil and pain from a position of God like omniscience. ( Read Mark making the films of his kills, thus objectifying himself from the act.) The story-teller experiences his characters happiness ( Read the scene in which Mark joyfully gets Moira Shearer to innocently dance for the camera before killing her.) Their fantasies, both light and dark and their eventual destiny be it happy or tragic. Peeping Tom is an essay on the involuntary deity status being a storyteller provides, and the perversions that come with.
In which Kathy Bates smashes someone's leg with a sledgehammer. Other stuff happens too, like in which thinly veiled Stephen King surrogate no. 6 (James Caan) deals with a crazy fan who doesn't like the way he ended his latest novel. Coz she's crazy.
What Its really about?
Fans shutting the fuck up. Because you have to be crazy not to like the way he ends his writing right? crazy. Given that King gets endlessly criticized for his endings, this blatantly is a piece of STFU writing if there ever was one. Guys, did you write The Shining or Carrie. Did you write the script to Butch Cassidy or All The Presidents Men (William Goldman wrote the screenplay, if you didn't get that). No. You didn't. So where the fuck do you get off telling me how to write my books/screenplays. My watch cost more then you make in a year! Fuck you and your opinions. And if you continue to bug me, I will demonize you in literature, have that adapted into a movie, have you played by Kathy Bates and have her win an Oscar for portraying just how wrong you are. Now leave me alone, I have to write the sequel to Pet Cemetery.
2) The Host
This awesome Korean Monster movie is everything that can go right in the horror genre. Its fun, its scary and there's archery. This story of a monster dwelling in a city river coming a shore to feed on some Korean is a tale of a family torn apart and the love that pulls them back together. Only phrased in a way that doesn't make you want to puke all over your own face.
What its really about?
The environment. The Monster is created by the US government (of course) dumping unchecked toxins and chemicals into the city river, and as we all know if you don't take care of nature then nature will give you the finger. So substitute the monster for say as tsunami or a hurricane and you get this movie's point.
1) Dawn of The Dead
Romero mark two. The guy loves allegory what can I say. This movie makes the top spot though because its the smartest, most elegantly executed piece of horror movie allegory that exists, at least to the extent of my knowledge. Surface, its another Zombie siege movie, only taking place on a grander scale, exchanging a farmhouse for a shopping mall. Ken Foree killed enough zombies to earn a reference in Shaun of the dead, the ultimate tribute to zombie killing prowess.
What its Really about?
Consumerism. You see our Romero's zombies are innately drawn to places they felt safe in their pre-zombie existence. So it's little surprise that the corpses are naturally pulled toward a great Philadelphia shopping mall. You see we are designed and programmed by society to believe that certain things are good, some are some aren't. Family, patriotism, capitalism, football whatever. But above all to keep the world ticking we must, on pain of death buy bunch of shit we don't need down at the local mega store. Consumerism is so deeply wound into our system's that it can even survive the zombification process. You are not you're fucking khakis, fool. Only twenty years earlier and with some zombies thrown in.