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dog days

dog days

Friday, April 5, 2013

Attack of the Beast Creatures

Attack of the Beast Creatures
1985
Michael Stanley

When Gremlins’ (1984) became a massive hit, horror and science-fiction film was filled with tiny monsters and aliens. Some became popular, such as 'Critters' (1986), or 'Ghoulies' (1985), while other films like, 'Munchies' (1987), or 'Spookies' (1986), still languish in obscurity (in as much as anything can languish in obscurity with the internet available).  ‘Attack of the Beast Creatures’ definitely falls into the latter category, probably with good reason. It certainly isn't a good film, but it tries to make sure things are relentlessly happening on screen... wonderfully ludicrous things

An opening title claims it is 1920 and somewhere in the North Atlantic. No effort is made to convince the viewer of either of these things. Sure, most of the characters are in formal wear, but that’s about the extent of the attempt to make this a period film. Our heroes are escaping from a shipwreck via lifeboat when they come ashore on an apparently deserted island. This unnamed island ends up having two notable features: 1) Naturally occurring acid pools, and 2) Tiny natives with sharp teeth, long black hair and giant white eyes.  When the castaways aren't pointlessly bickering or falling into acid, they are being chewed on by hordes of tiny little monsters. This repeats for about seventy minutes and then finally ends with a couple of survivors, just like you knew it was going to all along.

Why is this movie set in the 1920s? Honestly, I have no idea. It does nothing for the film, there isn't some clever historical moment tied in to all this, and the actors do not portray themselves as people of the period. I suppose it is some kind of nod to the pulpy jungle adventures that were popular at that time, but it never comes to close to trying to evoke those stories at all. The score is done with a synthesizer, which manages to destroy any remaining notion that this is taking place in the past. It feels like an 80’s monster movie that just happens to features a few people wearing bow ties.

The skeletons that remain after an unfortunate dip in the acid pools are straight out of a high school classroom, complete with seams around the top of the skull and hinges to hold the bones together. The Beast Creatures, are against all odds, winners. They are obvious puppets (and cute ones to boot), who do little more than run around and gnash their teeth. Watching actors trying to struggle with them is hugely entertaining, but probably not in the way the creators intended.

The best feature of the film is that aside from a slow first act, there is a feeling of constant threat and harassment from the evil little natives and it helps give the thin plot enough momentum to get through the bulk of the movie, at least until the attacks start to get a bit repetitive.

A small film with small monsters, it ends up delivering greater entertainment value than you would expect.

2 comments:

  1. Ahhhhhhh! Now I realize why its set in the 20s! It is a nod to HP Lovecraft's canniballistic Tco Tco and Zoogs!

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    1. It might almost be worth it to sit through that again with Lovecraft in mind... almost.

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