Humongous (1982)
Humongous (1982)

Genre: Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.

Release Date: June 11th, 1982 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Paul Lynch Actors: Janet Julian, David Wallace, John Wildman, Janit Baldwin, Joy Boushel, Lane Coleman, Shay Garner, Page Fletcher, Mary Sullivan

 


 

D

uring Labor Day Weekend in 1946, a large gathering of partygoers assembles at a white manor on the lake, where drinks are consumed, cigars are smoked, and kisses are stolen. But when Ida Parsons (Shay Garner) rebuffs drunken suitor Tom Rice (Page Fletcher), he violently rapes her in the nearby woods. Fortunately, since she previously, generously fed a pen of German shepherds, they come to her rescue (too late to stop the sexual assault, however) by tearing out Tom’s throat. Despite such horrific events, this all segues into the title sequence, which is accompanied by calm, gentle piano and saxophone music, as if preparation for a soap opera.

36 years later, brothers Eric (David Wallace) and Nick (John Wildman) set out to Saint Martin on a yacht, with their girlfriends Sandy (Janet Julian) and Donna (Joy Boushel), respectively, as well as kid sister Carla (Janit Baldwin). At night, they cross paths with a two-seat boat, steered by a panicked, exhausted man named Bert (Lane Coleman), who warns them of rocks in a tight channel in the immediate vicinity, and complains that his motor went out. When the fog lifts, a tiny island becomes visible, which houses a lodge containing a single old woman, who lives a completely reclusive life – save for her horde of hungry guard dogs. As Bert describes her, she only goes to Saint Martin a couple of times per year for supplies, and won’t make eye contact with anyone.

Despite laughing at the spooky tale of the hermit and her vicious pets, Nick grows impatient waiting around on deck and decides to maneuver the vessel in the dark. Sure enough, he navigates into some rocks, which inexplicably cause the yacht to explode in a ball of fire, forcing the six passengers to dive overboard. As they reconvene on the island, Nick opts to heroically approach the lodge – which harbors some ghastly secrets from some 36 years prior.

As a horror movie setup, the premise is flimsy, but it provides the basic opportunity to strand unprepared teens in an unwelcoming environment. The core group of characters is small, which definitely works in the film’s favor, even though the roles continually switch behaviors – specifically to move the story along, but without the consistency necessary to convince of genuine people. They split up, fall on the ground (without tripping on anything specific), poke around in nicely disheveled buildings (a bit like “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” or “Psycho” – both pictures worth copying), and are routinely confronted by things that pop out at the screen or serve to jangle the nerves (such as rotting animal corpses, bugs, and screams).

Voyeuristic camerawork foreshadows some unspeakable beast lurking about or stalking its prey, while bits of bloody gore suggest the violence to come, generating anticipation for inevitable attacks. But the build is mostly just build. It takes nearly an hour before a significant reveal occurs, with a payoff that simply can’t match – particularly as it involves the two least meaningful personas engaging in some ridiculous interactions (comically, after Donna carries blueberries in her shirt to feed a feverish Bert, she must wash her breasts and then climb on top of him to keep him warm).

Furthermore, the acting isn’t great, with a couple of lines of dialogue that are unintentionally hysterical (and a pointless lull leading to the climax, designed to explain their agonizing situation, which the audience can already piece together) – though each of the players appears to be taking the material seriously. Unfortunately, the unfitting music chimes back in at odd moments, supplemented by more modern instruments and rhythms that not only date the film but also tarnish the atmosphere. The drawn-out finale is also a mess (lightlessness hides visual flaws right alongside the action of grapples and chases), despite containing a few ideas that are good enough to belong in a better movie.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10