Monologues have always been rather close to my heart. I remember studying for my LAMDA and having to perform a monologue as my final exam.
It was nerve wracking and a lot harder than I expected. During rehearsals, my tutor would stop me midway and ask me to repeat the lines with stage directions, whether it was walking a few paces whilst changing the tone of my voice to reflect the dialogue and action, or a momentary silence before continuing within the emotiveness of the scene.
With horror/sci-fi/thriller movies centred around the emotions of fear, desperation, love, hate, suffering and perseverance to survive or kill, I thought I’d collate some of my favorite monologues in horror/sci-fi/thriller movies.
As I embark upon my own first feature film script, these particular monologues provide useful priming material into how actors can really bring to life dialogue and with it the narrative and exposition within a story.
Lynn Lowry’s monologue about her erotic dream in Shivers (1975)
From the master of body horror, David Cronenberg evokes passion and eroticism. Nurse Forsythe (Lynne Lowry) reveals the truth behind her newly found lust coursing both physically and mentally through her body due to a parasitic virus. She lures the audience in with her tales of insatiability, wonder and compulsion. The tone of her voice is hypnotic as we’re drawn into this new and appealing world, where the unification of flesh, no matter how young, old or diseased, is brought about by being devoured sexually without judgement.
The opening and closing narration of The Haunting (1963)
With a classic storytelling, the opening of the Haunting (1963) based on the Shirley Jackson novel demonstrates how stories should be told. Quintessentially British, you can only but feel a need to gather around a real coal fire, ‘cozied’ up, wrapped in a dressing gown, slippers, and an over-sized vessel full with your favored hot beverage. But most importantly, all while in a haunted house.
Character Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson), invites the audience with his informative narration, creating the mystery which sets the premise of the terror which is about to unravel.
The Invisible Man (1933)
Dr. Jack Griffin (Claude Rains) is convinced that he’ll find a way to solve his crisis, not looking to resort to help from anyone else. Impassioned or mad, he tells his fiancé of his secret, one which he’s incredibly proud of as he languishes in what is a potentially chemically induced megalomania.
Silent Night Deadly Night (1984)
When Grandpa Chapman (Will Hare) comes out of his coma, unbeknownst to the adults, he suddenly starts talking to his grandson Billy (Danny Wagner). His story comes as a warning, about how Christmas Eve is the scariest night of the year.
Hare gives the most convincing performance, scaring Billy, from the way he suddenly transforms and wreaks havoc and fear upon all watching, using the physical changes and delirium etched across his face. It’s a true character driven performance, perhaps watching lunacy at its best.
In fact, Grandpa much reminds me of Hector Salamanca (Mark Magolis) in Breaking Bad, where facial acting, and the control of expression physically, can be just as powerful as dialogue-driven scenes.
AJ Bowen’s Monologue at the end in A Horrible Way To Die (2010)
Director Adam Wingard’s gritty flick comes together at the end with a speech by a serial killer which actually conjures sympathy. Lessons are learned, but yet violence still brews under his skin. Character Garrick Turrell’s (AJ Bowen) monologue is able to demonstrate a more human side to a man who is seen as a monster, as he violently kills and saves a life in one scene. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a link to this particular monologue, but you can watch the film on Shudder.
Opening monologue to The Fog (1980)
Opening to a ticking pocket-watch as it counts down to 11:55. With a loud, sharp snap of the watch closing we see Mr Machen (The amazing John Houseman) sitting at the head of a small campfire surrounded by his young charges overlooking the town and the bay. There he tells them all a nugget of the dark history of the town. Houseman’s delivery gives menace, hanging onto some words while letting others drift by like an icy chill. And, always emphasising the date on which these cursed events took place. Even now that date has been seared into my mind. The 21st of April is a day I hope never to see fog.
Phoebe Cate’s story of why she hates Christmas in Gremlins (1984)
This monologue is one loaded with the ‘feels,’ a dark, grim tale within a black comedy. During a brief break from the chaos happening around the rest of the town, Kate Beringer (Phoebe Cates) and future partner Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) share a moment, where she opens her heart with a tear-jerking tale of why she hates Christmas. Or how she found out that Santa didn’t exist. Cates reveals her tale almost like she is detached from the events she’s recounting, yet she does a great job at fighting the pain beneath, like it’s the only way she can deal with her childhood trauma.
The ‘It’s easy to create a victim’ monologue from Martyrs (2008)
Martyrs by itself can be a really difficult film to watch for those with a sensitive disposition, or generally have some standard when it comes to brutality and violence. Yet out of all of the violence, blood and torture there is this monologue by the Mademoiselle (Catherine Bégin). There is no real relief in what starts cold and gradually warms, like a scientist letting slip their obsession in their chosen field. Bégin’s understated passion is fulfilling the organisation’s desire to successfully capture and craft a martyr. All in order to obtain some secret that countless martyrs of the past have seen through their own torment. This muted excitement has a strangely chilling quality since ultimately Anna’s torment has only just begun.
Mola Ram’s ‘Kalimar,’ spooky speech from Indiana Jones Temple of Doom (1984)
Not quite a monologue as such, but still an epic scene where Mola Ram (Amrishlal Puri) holds a ritualistic ceremony prizing the heart from one of his followers whilst summoning words alongside his actions to encourage his devotees. His presence, stature and conviction are enough to terrify, along with his booming voice of command.
Monologue by Pinhead in Hellraiser (1987)
The whole film wreaks of some beautiful literary passages that those who are familiar with Barker’s novels/writings will enjoy seen bought to life. Here, character Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) makes a deal with Pinhead whilst he defiantly announces his presence and purpose.
‘Who’s gonna love me,’ end monologue by the mother in Precious (2009)
Although this isn’t strictly horror, it is a social-realism thriller based on a novel called ‘Push,’ by Sapphire. A book I’ve also read which actually unfolds pretty much like the novel.
‘Who’s going to love me,’ a line which elicits a whole different meaning in the context of a woman who knew her husband was sexually abusing her three-year-old daughter and continued to allow it.
Mary (Mo’Nique) justifies her motive in a way that questions the agonising circumstance, where damage is caused, solutions are served as redundant, and where the depth of abuse from instigator, to giver and then the victim is suffered by all. A truly disturbing look into the psyche of a woman whose idea of love is misconstrued.
Opening and closing monologue in Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death actually has an opening and closing monologue, but I could only source the closing.
The film itself is a surreal psychological trip into a woman’s (Zohra Lampert) struggle with her psychosis, with a conscious attempt to shield others close to her from a mental health condition she’s experiencing.
What we’re left with is vampiric happenings, a potentially haunted house, melodrama, murder and the possibility that it’s all just a delusion. A wonderful movie, accompanied by a haunting score by Orville Stoeber and Walter Sear.
The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade,” also known as Marat/Sade” (1967)
Marat/Sade, tells the story of Marat, a French revolutionary who’s executed. Seen as a play within a play, the story is based in an asylum called Charenton, where inmates are actually involved with an in-house production directed by another inmate which just so happens to be Marquis de Sade (Patrick Mcgee).
The ‘Mad animal,’ speech performed by Ian Richardson, triggers an interesting dichotomy in the sense that watching a play written for the stage almost feels like it should be seen live, but works brilliantly on the screen and is equally as captivating. I’ve watched this particular scene a few times now and I haven’t tired of it yet.
Addams Family Values (1993)
When Debbie (Joan Cusack) kidnaps the Addams Family after her marriage to Fester (Christopher Lloyd), she didn’t realise that such torture would be so welcomed.
‘Our whole family together at last, three generations above ground,’ Morticia Addams (Angelica Houston).
As she lays into her exposition, Debbie is admired and supported by her captives. All the while, the characters effortlessly weave in and out of conversation with surprising loving tenderness as she works through her soliloquy.
Thanks for reading all!