Monster Man (2003)
Monster Man (2003)

Genre: Horror Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 35 min.

Release Date: July 30th, 2003 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Michael Davis Actors: Eric Jungmann, Justin Urich, Aimee Brooks, Michael Bailey Smith, Joe Goodrich, Tim Sitarz

 


 

S

trapped to a rusty bed in a room of terror, surrounded by tools of torture, a young man has his head slowly crushed in a vice. This cold open strangely transitions into 25-year-old Adam (Eric Jungmann) driving through the desert on a multi-day journey to attend the wedding of Betty-Ann in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Unbeknownst to him, former college classmate Harley (Justin Urich) has stowed away in the back seat, anxious to rekindle their friendship and to crash the wedding. Although Adam initially refuses to allow Harley to tag along, the larger, playfully bullying goofball pressures him into driving onward. “I’m not a little wussy!”

Nerdy, shy Adam is still in love with Betty-Ann, even though she never paid any attention to him. And Harley was always badmouthing her, ragging on her habitual promiscuousness – two topics that surface in their close-proximity bickering. After a short time on the road, they stop at a diner, where Harley has the nerve to brazenly insult the redneck patrons and owner, commenting about the idiocy required to enjoy the monster truck exhibition playing on the TV. A hearse that keeps driving alongside them is a bad omen, along with a piece of roadkill (a comically fake prop), but it’s the aggressive monster truck, driven by a mutilated monster man (Michael Bailey Smith as “Brother Bob”), that pulls up behind them that proves to be the most daunting obstacle.

Chirpy, upbeat music fit for a cartoon alternates with more ominous tones as the childish duo drive along the highway, chatting about women, “Citizen Kane” (the nerve!), and a slender hitchhiker (Aimee Brooks, cast mostly just to show off her bared midriff, though her character is tough, independent, and inordinately brave) spotted on the side of the road. “Monster Man” may be horror on the outside, but there’s a lot of intentional comedy – and stupidity – coursing through the chills. The more effective moments involve scary setups that transform into laughs, even when they’re disgusting, capitalizing on smutty humor.

“This whole trip is turning into a nightmare!” Despite the obvious low budget, the film provides a certain degree of entertainment beyond just a group of friends building a script around a monster truck connection. None of the romance or chumminess or horror possesses much sincerity (it’s like a teen sex comedy merged with torture porn), but it’s enough to stretch a short subject into a feature with relative ease. Unfortunately, many moments are terribly out-of-place – including a sex scene in which clothes are left on and cheesy Yoda impressions are made.

The longer the film runs, however, the more it becomes obvious that good ideas ran out too quickly. It’s also apparent that “Monster Man” borrows extensively from “Joy Ride,” a slicker version of the tale of unprepared travelers being terrorized on the open road (from just a couple of years earlier). It similarly takes pointers from “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and “The Evil Dead,” all while it twists around the common horror premise of a sexy young female virgin needed for a satanic ritual. But the blood and gore effects aren’t half bad.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10