Do you remember when grindhouse movies were a thing of the past? Oh, there might have been the occasional attempt to recreate that sleaze and vibe of those grimy flicks but it was a rare thing indeed and only a handful of horror/exploitation movie fans would appreciate it. Then Grindhouse came along. It was a blast and it almost perfectly recreated the texture and feeling of those older films. Fans, for the most part, loved it and that opened the floodgates for a number of movies in the same style. That’s all well and good when those movies are as much fun as Machete and Hobo With A Shotgun but it’s not such a great state of affairs when we also get rubbish like Hell Ride and Nude Nuns With Big Guns. And now Monstro!
Three women (played by Nelli Scarlet, Karli Madden and Kate Watts) who care little for the law or those around them get a car and head off to a shack beside the sea. They’re laying low after a particularly choice bit of criminal activity and have chosen a quiet area where they can disrespect their neighbours and have their own private party until they can get back to somewhere, anywhere, more exciting. Joseph (Norman Yemm) is the elderly neighbour most annoyed by their presence, for some reason and he even sends his granddaughter, Hannah (Kyrie Capri), round to ask them to quieten down. The women decide, instead, to try and corrupt Hannah with alcohol and attitude but the next day they start to realise that something isn’t quite right when they discover the aftermath of an attack by some big sea monster. A big sea monster that’s probably going to return at some point.
Things start off with potential to be pretty entertaining. There’s a decent opening sequence and a fantastic transition from black and white to colour but then, I’m afraid, it’s all downhill. Nelli Scarlet is lovely, my kinda gal, and Madden and Watts add extra appeal but the leads just don’t ever seem at ease with their affected attitudes. Maybe that’s the point, a veneer of artifice over everything to remind people that it’s a movie, but I don’t think it is. I think it’s just down to bad acting. Sorry ladies. Norman Yemm doesn’t do much better though Kyrie Capri provides a bright presence onscreen and is the high point of the film.
Now I am sure that writer-director Stuart Simpson had the best will in the world when he began filming Monstro! but the final product ends up failing almost completely. He gets the look pretty much spot on for most of the runtime, I’ll give him that, and while the script is poor it could be argued that it’s poor in a way reminiscent of those films from years gone by but the gore is missing, the nastiness isn’t delivered, the actresses aren’t good enough to make their characters worth rooting for, the creature doesn’t get nearly enough screentime to instill fear and there’s not even any gratuitous nudity to patch over the gaping flaws when all else fails. But, worst of all, it’s just not any fun.
Mind you, it won awards at lots of festivals and the publicity blurb accompanying the disc that I received boldly states the following: “Think the tough vixen characters from Russ Myers’ [sic] Faster Pussycat Kill Kill, with the atmosphere of Spielberg’s Jaws, the gore effects of the horror films of the 80’s like Evil Dead and Body Melt with hints of David Lynch-esque psychological undercurrent”. Apart from the first part about the characters being akin to women from a Russ Meyer movie I have to say that this praise is so far removed from the truth that it had me wondering whether or not I’d received the right disc. Sadly, I had.
Monstro! rises up on shiny disc on Monday 22nd October. The disc features two audio commentary tracks that might please fans of the film but suffer from a lack of focus and also some very poor audio. There are also cast interviews, deleted scenes a look behind the scenes, the trailer and two short films (Acid Spiders and Sickie). I didn’t have time, sadly, to see the former but Sickie was much more enjoyable than the main feature.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: STUART SIMPSON
STARS: NELLI SCARLET, KYRIE CAPRI, KARLI MADDEN, KATE WATTS, NORMAN YEMM, SCOTT BRENNAN, STEVEN STAGG
RUNTIME: 72 MINS APPROX