Cloverfield Cellphotos the Destruction of NYC

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 17th, 2008


What are we to make of this film, Cloverfield, which opens January 18, 2008? What is the monster? Is it the monster of the id or a cryptid? Is this MySpace horror or YouTube cryptofiction run amok? Certainly people have had fun for a few months trying to figure it out (see sample video solutions below).

What is this movie really all about? A cellphone camera version of “Blair Witch Horror” meets “Godzilla,” with a bit of “Planet of the Apes” thrown in, regarding the Statue of Liberty. And how about, jeez, those trailers? Some people love them, some people don’t.

You may have missed the earliest trailers, but the first one I saw was overusing the name of the main character, “Robert Hawkins.” But soon, there was a big problem with that.

As it turns out, the same week the trailers began screening at theaters was the same week that a real Robert Hawkins was in the news. Robert Hawkins is the name of the 19-year-old shooter who killed 8, then himself, at the mall in Omaha, on December 5, 2007. Ooops. (And some people think I make this “name game” stuff up.)

I’ve seen the Cloverfield trailers since then, and the “Robert Hawkins” references have been dropped. Sure “Rob” is still in ’em, but no more “Robert Hawkins.” I wonder if they changed the name of the character in their post-production edits too?

What kind of monster is on your cellphone?

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

29 Responses to “Cloverfield Cellphotos the Destruction of NYC”

  1. olejason responds:

    I’m gonna go check it out tomorrow

  2. DavidFullam responds:

    I was somewhat interested in this, until I saw the previews. I thought the film was more along the lines of “average joe picks up his video camera and chronicles the monster.” Then I saw it was going to be populated by stereotypical, WB Network, Dawson’s Creek, pretty people who only exist in movies, and my interest went to zero. Want to see a really top notch cryptid film? Watch The Host.

  3. Artist responds:


  4. Robtastic1 responds:

    This guy does Lost and his “monster” on Lost turned out to be an electrical-smoke thing that still hasn’t been explained. I wonder if they’re even going to show the monster in this movie.

  5. cmgrace responds:

    I always thought from the very first teaser trailer I saw when we went to see “Transformers” that this was a Godzilla movie. Believe me I wouldn’t mind another one. I love the Godzilla movies and have seen all of them. I have yet to see “The Host” but that is next on my list to rent.

  6. Ouroborus Jay responds:

    I’ve been pretty much obsessed with this movie and I’m going to see it tonight.

    I think it’ll be tough for some people to like (ala handheld footage and no backstory for the monster) but it should be pretty awesome.

  7. maslo63 responds:

    The thought of it being about a monster didn’t even cross my mind. I just assumed it was about aliens. I’m sure I’ll be seeing it this weekend.

  8. Jason P. responds:

    To address Robtastic1’s issue: yes, the monster (or monsters…) will be seen.

    Also, please note that J.J. Abrams produced Cloverfield and came up with the original story, but he didn’t write the script and he didn’t direct it. Matt Reeves did.

  9. red_pill_junkie responds:

    The arrival of the Lord Chtulhu at last!


  10. kittenz responds:

    Can’t wait to see it! I just hope it doesn’t turn out to be a bust.

  11. Mnynames responds:

    I admit having Lovecraftian thoughts upon first seeing the previews, but from what I’ve seen, my money’s on the giant mutant whale…

  12. Hawkeye responds:

    I’ve heard a lot of the filming was done by handing the actors digital cameras or other handhelds and director just told them to shoot while acting in the scenes. I believe this will be a rental down the road but doubt I’ll be seeing it in the theaters

  13. UltraRob responds:

    There have already been preview showings.

    The simple (spoiler lite) version of the story is this: It’s “Saving Private Ryan”, but the “soldiers” are a bunch of hip young 20-somethings who are trying to save their friend trapped somewhere in Manhattan during the giant monster attack. For whatever reason, they document the whole thing as they go on their search for their friend who is half-buried someplace and they can only contact through a cell phone.

    The general reaction has been quite positive, but I will wait to see the movie myself before I make any real judgements.

  14. DavidFullam responds:

    If you believe the stories about how the business works, that’s probably how it was pitched. “It’s Private Ryan meets the American Godzilla movie and Blair Witch.”

  15. sasquatch responds:

    If by “Blair Witch” you mean nausea inducing hand held camera garbage, I’ll avoid this film. I can’t stand that junk. It’s really an excuse to be cheap you know; Use tons of filler from low rent equipment and you can really cut into your budget. I knew “Blair Witch” wasn’t real because; NO film student is half as bad as any of the camera operators in that movie.

  16. imamonkey responds:

    I’m not sure if I will see this movie, but the second video posted here was AWESOME!!!!

  17. mystery_man responds:

    I’m just going on some stuff that was in the movie blogs awhile back, but it seemed to me that a lot of people on those threads thought the monster was going to be H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulu. Anybody know anything else on this? Whatever it turns out to be, I’ve seen the trailers and in my opinion it looks pretty awesome.

  18. kittenz responds:

    I think it’s gonna be great.

  19. finny responds:

    Saw it this afternoon.
    I loved it!
    Call me crazy… Good clean monster fun. I heard some 11 – 12 year old kids say when it was over “that was awesome”!
    I agree.

  20. calash responds:

    Just came from seeing Cloverfield. My eyes still hurt from the handheld camera . There was a reason tripods were invented. Jumpy “Amateur” video may have worked for the “Blair Witch Project” but in a Monster eats Manhattan type epic it was an irritating distraction. Some of this could have been worked in with standard cinematography and would have added realism.
    It was as if the movie was happening over there and nimrod boy with the hand held camcorder was running around the edges taking not so good video of the action and this was what you got to see. After it was over the audience reaction was very quiet. Everyone just got up and left.
    If they do a sequel I hope it’s like the remake of “War of the Worlds” Leave the hand held work to the Sundance folks
    Anyway just my opinion.
    Best Regards

  21. maslo63 responds:

    I saw it and loved it. Don’t rent this one, it won’t do it justice. Go see it.

  22. kittenz responds:

    Saw it. LOVED IT! maslo63 is right – this one needs the big screen to do it justice. The handheld camera was done to great effect – it was totally believable as something that could have been done by a person caught unaware by a ravaging monster.

    I nitpicked about one or two little things with the crowd scenes mainly; the population of New York includes people of all ages, and lots of animals, especially dogs, none of which were a part of any outdoor scene – but on the whole it was a terrific flick.

  23. brainracker responds:

    ok – the monster? -it looks like the “rancor” from star wars with extremely large front limbs small mid and back limbs and a long tail – the head -very “rancor” with some balloon like sacs by ears that expand while breathing – i saw it today and was a good movie — never enough monster for me though
    – the parasites that come off the body were cool. and the camera movement does get annoying after a bit but overall a decent twist on the “kaiju eiga”

  24. merchboi responds:

    Saw it tonight. Um. It was… okay. I don’t know why I didn’t really love it, but I didn’t. It does leave a lot unanswered (as to what this thing was and where it came from), but that in itself makes me glad, and frustrated! I just don’t know how to feel about it.

  25. plant girl responds:

    I have seen the movie trailers but have not seen the movie yet. Is the monster supose to be a mutant of some kind brought on by polution? I am very curious as to what it looks like.

  26. kittenz responds:

    “It does leave a lot unanswered (as to what this thing was and where it came from)”

    I think that’s the whole point actually. That’s one of the things that made this such a cool movie. It was done entirely in first person. Think about it: if something like this really did happen, and one was caught up in it, there wouldn’t be any comforting voiceovers or cutaways where someone suddenly figured things out. You wouldn’t know what the thing was, or where it came from, and if you weren’t lucky enought to survive and get evacuated, you never would find out.

    To delve into all the unanswered questions about the monster would require a sequel. If they do a sequel, it will have to be much different, because they won’t get away with this first-person on-the-spot format again. A sequel would have to be more like a traditional action/horror movie.

    I don’t know if I want a sequel. If they make one it will either be awesome or awful.

  27. c_streed responds:

    Where the thing came from:

    In the shot where they’re on the ferris wheel at Coney Island, you can see it in the background fall into the ocean from outerspace.

  28. springheeledjack responds:

    Saw it, loved it. Different take on the giant monster movie. Kind of liked the fact we only got part of the story because of the hand held camera too, and the fact that we only got glimpses of the thing. Definitely was intense on the action and kept me going all through the movie.

    Also heard that the whale/crab thing above (third one down) was the original monster, but that it got leaked to the net and then Abrams changed it. Only scuttle-butt, but who knows?

    If you didn’t like the camera gyrating from the Blair Witch you definitely wouldn’t like this one, but it was worth my eight and a half bucks and 90 minutes of my time!

  29. ToddPartain responds:

    Saw it last night and loved it, though I could easily edit out twenty minutes of shaky-cam-running through the streets and not lose anything important to the story.

    There were unfortunately also several plot holes, like cellphone batteries that are fully charged right out of the package and the world’s longest lasting camcorder battery. Also amazed at how you can pull a semiconscious girl off a piece of rebar and she walks around like she just had a splinter. My wife is an RT and she said the girl, Beth, would almost have to have a collapsed lung from the spot where the rebar pierced her.

    But hollywood is hollywood, and overall an excellent job, some people in the theatre got bored and started jacking with their own cellphones, a teenage boy in front of me was texting on his, and when the movie ended he was startled because he had lost interest, this is mostly due to the endless bouncing around of the camera and imperceptible footage.

    The guy with the camera is portrayed as a doofus and this explains why he can’t get a stable shot except where he has to for you to see the monster.

    A much cooler device would have been to have the camera operator as a film or mass media student, someone who knows what they’re doing with a camera, this would have allowed for better shooting and retained the realism. Hey, it’s okay, though, nobody’s perfect.

    I couldn’t figure out if the “little terrible things” were parasites or babies.

    I just wonder if anyone else figured out the title “Cloverfield”, my theory is that it is a reference to the heavy growth of clover that follows a nuclear explosion, as was documented in Hiroshima. From this are we to surmise the explosion at the end was nuclear, and was “The Hammer”? Any thoughts?

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