There’s no doubt about it: Homo sapiens is an uppity species, very much inclined to overrate itself. A species that can always stand to be taken down a peg or two. A species that needs a regular dose of reality.
So join us as we take a look at some films in which Man receives a sharp, if not necessarily short, reminder of his actual place in the food chain.
|1000 Misspent Hours||Shakma||Of course, all of that is sort of beside the point, since the killer baboon in Shakma is conspicuously not a chacma. Rather, he’s a hamadryas, as can be plainly seen by his huge, toroidal Bozo the Clown mane, which is a feature unique among baboons to the males of that species. The substitution was not a wise move on the filmmakers’ part, because the stubbly pate and frizzy, gray temples combine with the fact that the poor creature has had his fangs pulled to make Shakma look comically like a little old man with a bright red ass.|
|Day of the Animals||Some unusually cooperative movies have a specific scene that you can point to and say, “Here. If this strikes your fancy, then it’s worth your while to see the whole thing.” In Day of the Animals, that scene takes the form of a shirtless Leslie Nielsen, his middle-aged body just beginning to get truly serious about sag and stretch marks, wrestling a bear in a thunderstorm after delivering a barely sensical sermon on the subject of “Melville’s God.” Reading that sentence, you know exactly what I meant about burnt orange a moment ago— and you also know perfectly well whether Day of the Animals is for you.|
|And You Call Yourself a Scientist!||Crocodile||“It’s not working,” complains Dr Strong. “What do we do now?”
(To which the film’s ultimate answer turns out to be, blow it up.)
(Oh, like that’s a spoiler.)
|The Last Shark||L’Ultimo Squalo is one of my favourite killer animal films — as I suspect it would be for a great many people, if not for the incredible dickheads reasonable and fair-minded individuals at Universal Studios.|
|BadMovies.org||The Dark Lurking||After discovering that she is the genetic bastard child of the oldest evil known to mankind, Lena is also introduced to a book of demons that was found with fossil Satan. The book is more than three thousand years old, but the slime and blood that covers its pages is still fresh. I guess that it must have been sealed in foil, like MRE cheese spread. You know, MRE cheese never goes bad. It changes color, and the older it gets the more alarming the colors become, but even after twenty years it’s still edible.Yeah, I know. I worry about nonexistent alien blobs wanting to dissolve me whole, but am perfectly willing to eat twenty year-old cheese.|
|Braineater||Space Amoeba / Yog: Monster from Space||If you’re going to remind your audience of other Toho monster movies, Baran and Dogora are the last examples you should pick. Both movies featured very interesting monsters trapped in stories that do them little justice. Unfortunately, that’s exactly the model Space Amoeba follows.|
|The Boogens & The Strangeness||At the same time The Boogens was being made, another movie about mine monsters was being made in Burbank, California. If the shot-in-Utah Boogens was, as the book claimed, A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, then the Hollywood production was a home movie by comparison. The Boogens cost about $600,000 to make; the second film cost one twenty-fourth of that. In other words, not only was this second mine-related monster movie completely coincidental to the making of The Boogens… it was also a labor of love. As strange as all this sounds, it’s probably no wonder the second film was called… The Strangeness.|
|Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension||Cruel Jaws||Hilariously, the shark announces itself by having an air barrel (or round pink floatie, actually) erupt from the water in slow motion. This image is clearly stolen from, surprise, The Last Shark. A round pink floatie is completely different from the large yellow barrels the shark in Jaws had attached to it, of course. Meanwhile, I guess Mattei didn’t care that in this film there’s been absolutely nothing to establish the shark having a floatie attached to it.|
|Teleport City||The Kindred||This is another one of those fragmented movie memories for me, where the only thing I could remember about it was “Amanda Pays turns into a fish” — and even that I eventually convinced myself happened in Leviathan. But when I rewatched Leviathan and discovered that Amanda Pays does not turn into a fish at any point, protected as she was by the power of Peter Weller’s rolled bandana headband, I knew I had to figure out which film it was where she did turn into a fish. Luckily, you type “Amanda Pays turns” into Google, and the first auto-complete that comes up is “Amanda Pays turns into a fish.” Internet, you are truly a good friend.|
|The Unknown Movies||Tentacles||But I think that the human characters in a monster movie determine to a great degree the movie’s overall success or failure. We need humans that we find interesting and/or sympathetic to make us care about the man vs. monster struggle. But the human character in Tentacles are really hard to get involved with. Take the Turner siblings for instance. The fact that the fifty-seven year old Shelley Winters is supposed to be the mother of a boy about ten years old is kind of hard to swallow, but even more ludicrous is that she calls the seventy-one year old John Huston her “little brother”. (Though maybe she’s talking about weight instead of age.)|