Monster In The Closet (1986)

APRIL 12, 2010


Any movie that starts off with the following line can’t be all together bad:

"The most mysterious, inexplicable and incredible events often take place in the most ordinary places. Usually these seemingly unexplainable occurrences are eventually explained. But every so often they remain mysteriously inexplicable. Sometimes it is best to accept the unexplainable, rather than search in vain for inexplicable explanations. For some things are simply unexplainable."
And any movie that follows this silliness by mocking Psycho (the sliding across the screen, largely pointless date and time cards) is definitely worth a watch. Monster In The Closet may lack laughs as it proceeds, but its certainly one of the more unique Troma films - real actors, some semblance of pace and story, and a complete lack of Ron Jeremy.

Real actors, you ask? How about a young Paul Walker as ‘The Professor’, a young kid who makes a whole bunch of weird devices and pretty much saves the day throughout the movie. I am a big fan of Walker, and it was great to see him at such a young age (and he was good then too! Easily the least annoying performance by a child in a Troma movie ever). Fergie also pops up as another youngster, though we don’t get to see her torn asunder, which is a shame. Donald Moffat plays the army general taxed with bringing the monster down, Henry Gibson plays a Doc Brown/Einstein-y guy, and both Paul Dooley and John Carradine both contribute cameos. And people make a big deal of Marisa Tomei popping up in Toxic Avenger.

It also has production value! There’s a nice shot in the middle of the movie or so where we see the town being evacuated, with lots of extras, army trucks, big tents, the whole nine yards. And it appears to be shot in a Los Angeles suburb, not some burnt-out New Jersey parking lot. Maybe we can attribute this to it being directed by someone besides Lloyd Kaufman, but for whatever the reason, it’s clear that SOME money and SOME effort went into this one, though the money may have come from the Nestle company due to all of the Crunch bars we see in the film.

As for the monster, well... it’s not the best thing, but... OK it’s kind of lame - a big rubber thing that looks like the Garbage Pail Kids version of Harry Henderson (odd since it was played by the same guy, the late Kevin Peter Hall), albeit with a Giger Alien-esque protrusion that SEEMS like it’s going to eat someone’s head off or something when it pops out, but usually just snarls and nips at a guy. But it’s not a (bad) puppet or anything, and thus looks better than any monster they’ve made in the past decade or so. I just wish he could have done more than lumber around and smash through doors - we are treated to at LEAST three scenes of the thing kicking and punching through a big frame door. Try a plate glass window or something!

And even though the movie is obviously a spoof on monster movies of old, I wish they could have at least TRIED to explain why the monster’s appearance meant “the end of the world”. It doesn’t appear to cause anyone harm - even scenes where army dudes are shooting at it don’t result in much defensive ass-kicking. And as we discover near the end, he gets his powers from closets, and so once people learn that and destroy his closets, he just sort of dies, leading up to an obvious King Kong joke (he also spends the last 20 minutes of the movie carrying our non-protesting hero around like Fay Wray). I honestly can’t recall him killing anyone after the first half hour, unless you count Gibson’s character (who seemingly dies from a heart attack). I was hoping he would at least kill the asshole reporter/hero’s rival, but nope. That dude lives.

The rating might have something to do with this. Whether it was designed that way or not, it’s a PG film, which means no blood or drugs or whatever. There IS some nudity thanks to Stella Stevens and a shower, but boobs were allowed in PG movies back in the 80s, for some reason. Ah, the good ol’ days...

The laughs are more infrequent as the film goes on (save for the hilariously nutty climax), but it’s admirably goofy throughout, and plays just as good as a spoof of the films as it does a homage to them, not unlike Monsters vs. Aliens. That it comes from the Troma factory (or at least a building in its vicinity - it was executive produced by Lloyd and Michael, but they otherwise seemingly had no involvement) makes it all the more interesting. And again, you get to see Fergie die.

What say you?

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


  1. That looks great, especially the bit with the samurai guy hacking up his closet.
    I guess that's the trouble with Troma, in that their output is so sporadic in quality, though for some reason I still have the urge to seek them out good or bad.

    Good review


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