I really don’t know quite how the hell Monster Man got the greenlight. And I do mean that as a compliment. In a world where most films have to be easily digestible, pre-packaged commercial objects, the genre-melding going on in Monster Man will make it a rather tough sell to audiences. Of course, horror comedy (which is roughly what this is) is by no means a new genre & films as diverse as Bride of Frankenstein & The Evil Dead have nailed perfectly it in wildly differing ways. What makes Monster Man different & so unexpected is that whilst most horror comedies are horror films with added laughs, Monster Man is more of a bad taste comedy that has somehow wound up with a horror movie plot without realising it. This offbeat gem comes to you from writer/director Michael Davis, the man responsible for such diverse titles as Girl Fever, 100 Girls, & 100 Women. For the majority of the run-time Monster Man plays largely as a bad taste comedy (or vom-com, if you will), which sits awkwardly with anyone expecting a more traditional horror style. And yet it’s last-act move into pure splatter territory will confound those audiences who were busy enjoying it as a Road Trip-type comedy.
Two friends, the virginal Adam (Not Another Teen Movie’s Jungmann) & loud-mouthed Harley (Urich) are on a road trip across America on their way to the wedding of Adam’s childhood friend, who he’s been secretly in love with for years. Stopping in a remote bar, Harley can’t resist poking fun at the locals watching monster trucks on the TV. Perhaps not a wise move, since shortly afterwards they are menaced on the highway by an absurdly big & fierce monster truck, which almost forces them off the road. It’s only the start of their misadventures, but at least things aren’t all bad as they soon pick up an absurdly sexy hitchhiker (Brooks).
It’s actually relatively easy to imagine the pitch for Monster Man. Essentially it’s the characters from a standard issue teen vom-com (such as Road Trip or American Pie) who wind up in a horror movie but are too stupid to realise it - & this is the main source of humour. So whilst the American Pies feature gags involving drinking semen, or people getting pissed on, one of Monster Man’s biggest gags involves Harley having a particularly tasty wet dream, only to wake & discover the hair pie he’s munching on is actually a particularly bloody piece of roadkill. If the thought of that makes you laugh, chances are you’ll love this film.
You see, perhaps I’m not the right person to be reviewing Monster Man. I don’t recall ever laughing at a Farrelly brother’s movie, & I suffered mirthlessly through all three American Pies & Road Trip, and as such Monster Man isn’t really aimed at me. However, if you’re the kind of horror fan who also loves vom-coms (like our own Don’t Feed the Dead) then this really is your kind of film, & you could probably add another skull to the rating. Despite this, even though much of it is in the style of one of my least favourite genres, I have to admit to enjoying even the comedy scenes in Monster Man quite a bit. You see, whilst I wasn’t too taken by the obligatory bad taste scenes, there are other great moments of humour to be found. Notably the characters complete oblivion to their predicament – such as when they siphon petrol from an abandoned campervan, utterly unaware of the hacked up corpse inside or the giant pentagram drawn on the ground. Then there’s the monster truck itself, a wonderfully OTT beast which roars & rampages with its own tangible personality. Oh, & the Yoda-speak sex scene – despite Brooks’ apparent unwillingness to take her clothes off – is a classic. And when it finally does move into more traditional splatter comedy territory for the finale, it’s surprisingly confident doing so, very entertaining & made me willing to overlook many of the flaws in the preceding film.
Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised as just how much I enjoyed Monster Man. It’s a gleefully silly, wildly offbeat & outrageously inventive little movie, & whilst I personally would have liked it more if it’d had a bit more horror & a bit less comedy, horror fans who like their bad taste comedy will doubtless lap it up. You see there really is an audience out there for Monster Man, & I desperately hope it manages to find it. Its brave, brazenly audacious & unusual nature deserves to be seen.