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Unleashing the beast In Focus by Richard Crouse METRO CANADA May 21, 2010

tb_033OgresShrek, the jolly green ogre made famous by Mike Myers, may be the most popular movie ogre, but he’s not the only one.

As the “lovable lug who showed that you don’t have to change your undies to change the world” brings Shrek Forever After to the big screen this weekend, he joins the ranks of ogres seduced by the glamour of the movies.

The Shrek series plays the ogre card for laughs — “I used to be an ogre but now I’m a jolly green joke,” he complains — but movies generally haven’t strayed from the hideous humanoid stereotype —not counting Revenge of the Nerds’s Fred “Ogre” Palowakski, of course.

So horrifying is the classic ogre portrait that in France it’s thought to be based on notorious serial killer Gilles de Rais, who allegedly murdered 200 children.

Occasionally, ogres are given a light-hearted treatment, like Mr and Mrs. Ogre in Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits, who, when they scoop up the band of bandits in their fishing net, squeal, “Aren’t they lovely? We can have them for breakfast,” but usually they are portrayed as terrifying creatures, like the lead in the appropriately named Sci-Fi Channel B-movie Ogre.

Set in Ellensworth, Pa., 150 years after the town’s citizens made a deal with a shaman to rid their village of a deadly disease by changing the plague into the physical manifestation of an ogre — best described as the offspring of  the Yeti and Zippy the Pinhead — the movie shows what happens when the beast gets hungry and gets loose.

With the tagline “No Donkey. No Fairy Tale. Just TERROR,” you know this is the anti-Shrek.

The first film ogre was featured in the 1902 silent version of Jack and the Beanstalk. That ogre is little more than a tall man with a spiked club, but the film has some cool rudimentary special effects.

Trippier than that is the ogre in a 1974 Japanese anime retelling of the classic tale.

In that version the ogre, named Tulip, is the son of a witch who lives in a psychedelic world atop the beanstalk. What’s in those magic beans?

Shrek Forever After may (or may not) be the last Shrek film — “The door may not be locked but it’s definitely latched,” says Myers on the never-say-never Hollywood rule of sequels — but even if it is, there is no shortage of other movie ogres with stories to tell.

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