NOVEMBER 7, 2010
While it’s great to see any old horror movie projected in glorious 35mm, I really dig when it’s a movie that’s never been released on DVD. Not only does it make it a lot easier to justify driving around Los Angeles at 2 am (when it’s over), but it also presents a challenge for me – if I fall asleep, I can’t use it as my daily movie (and I LOVE seeing a midnight movie for HMAD purposes because it gives me a “waking day off”). Something like Manhunter, I can just grab my DVD and see what I missed. But Humongous? If I doze off, it’s goodbye midnight movie review, hello spending part of my Sunday with something on Netflix.
Luckily I managed to stay awake through pretty much all of it, missing only part of a kill scene (basically the stalking; I fell asleep when one character went off on his own, woke up as he was being killed). Between this and Madman, it’s becoming a habit! Maybe someday I can see an entire midnight movie!
Anyway, it’s definitely one of the odder early 80s slashers, thanks to a rather melancholy tone (seriously, the opening credits are like something out of a WC Fields adaptation) and some hilariously odd moments, like when one of our will-be victims carries a bunch of blueberries in her bosom, getting juice all over her chest and then giving herself a bath to clean it off (before laying half-naked on a guy who claims to be suffering from hypothermia). It also opens with a rather brutal rape scene, completely incongruent to the rest of the film, which is more in line with a Friday the 13th (kids being kids, light tone, silly “I think he’s dead” moments, etc).
Oddly, the rape is heavily R-rated while the rest of the film is largely blood free. Some of the kills just seem light on the splatter by design (such as the dude getting crushed by Humongous’ bare hands), but others are noticeably edited, such as when he kills Blueberry girl and frozen guy, which is cut so rapidly it actually becomes kind of confusing (it reminded me of the TV edit of Friday the 13th part 5, where they cut so much out of two kill scenes that they appeared in back to back quick shots that were in no way comprehensible). I guess the MPAA had it in for the Canadians back then; while our homegrown films were still plenty bloody even with some MPAA censoring (Halloween II, Friday the 13ths 1-4), Canadian flicks such as this and My Bloody Valentine were left almost completely neutered.
Speaking of those other movies, it seems director Paul Lynch (Prom Night) and screenwriter William Gray have seen them, too. At one point during the climax our Final Girl pulls an Amy Steel and pretends to be the killer’s mother, scolding him until he backs off enough for her to escape. Immediately after that, she goes out to the hallway and he appears behind her, knocking her over the railing and down the stairs, a sequence practically stolen shot for shot from the original Halloween. Lynch also tosses in some diopter shots to give it some De Palma flair.
But it’s got its share of original moments too. I already mentioned the wacky blueberry scene, but there’s a lot of others, like when one of the brothers fires a gun near his sibling’s head for no reason. The backstory involves dog-eating, and at one point a character who we thought was dead runs out and basically says “I’m not dead!” only to be instantly killed (for real) 3 seconds later. And any movie where the killer is dispatched with the obligatory/ignored “No Trespassing” sign is automatically worth some applause.
And again, it’s just sort of melancholy. The characterization isn’t very deep, but you will still sort of feel bad for pretty much everyone in the movie, even the killer. He’s the result of a brutal rape, raised by his mother on an island (the rape left her kind of hating people) with only some dogs as his friends, and when she died he was forced to eat the dogs to survive. Poor bastard. And then the heroine is left obviously scarred from her ordeal – the freeze frame final shot is very similar to one of the photos of Mrs. Humongous during the opening credits. There are grim slasher movies that bum me out because of the deaths of the characters (Texas Chainsaw The Beginning), and then there’s this, which just bums me out because of pretty much everything. But in a sort of charming and appealing way. I chalk it up to the Canadian accents.
According to Phil, the VHS of this movie is so dark that it’s impossible to tell what is going on, though it DOES have some restored gore footage, apparently. Hopefully no one will have to deal with it and a DVD will come along sooner than later. Either way, I hope Phil and the rest of the New Bev crew can continue to dig up prints of these not-on-DVD titles. It’s a great diversion to the usual cult classics and the type of thing HMAD is meant for.
What say you?