BLUE MONKEY (1987)
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Giant insect thriller is definitely Alien inspired as it has an elderly man being admitted to a hospital after receiving a prick on the hand from an exotic plant owned by his neighbor. The bacterial infection spreads to others and soon the old coot is coughing up a slimy larvae that has the hospital staff baffled. Meanwhile the outbreak gets the hospital sealed off for quarantine and some pesky kids from the pediatric ward feed the larvae some growth hormones…still with me, folks? The insect-like creature grows to human size and hooks up with another critter to mate…all with patients and doctors alike trapped inside the hospital with it. Now it’s up to a pretty doctor (Gwynyth Walsh) and a hard nosed detective (Steve Railsback) to stop this critter before it multiplies.
Aside from the 80s nostalgia this is a dull Alien retread where this big bug goes around cocooning hospital staff and patients so it’s mate can feed them to her young…and maybe I blinked and missed it, but how the giant bug happened upon an equally giant female is a bit of a mystery…to me anyway. In my defense the movie had trouble holding my attention. The flick gets it’s odd name from a comment made by one of the children and certainly is confusing to anyone actually hoping for a blue anthropoid as their main bad guy. This rip-off, more wisely called Insect in other parts of the globe, is credited to writers George Goldsmith and Chris Koseluk who’s unimaginative script is directed very by-the-numbers by William Fruet, who also directed the low key but more effective Funeral Home. There is little suspense and most of the action comes in the last act. There is some OK gore and the creature FX are delightfully plastic looking, but at least creature actor Ivan E. Roth is given top billing in the end credits. Most of the time FX actors are usually a footnote somewhere, so give the filmmakers credit for that. The rest of the acting, including that of veteran John Vernon, is strictly pedestrian so why not give the creature guy top credit, anyway.
Obviously, I wasn’t impressed when I first watched this many years ago as not much registered on this revisit. The film is very dull and even the rubbery make-up and monster FX couldn’t add much charm to this Ridley Scott rip-off. There is a touch of 80s nostalgia, but otherwise this was kind of a snooze-fest despite generous helpings of monster action in the second half. Probably would have been a lot more fun if the critters actually were blue monkeys!
KILLER CLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988)
Sometimes you have to lighten things up a bit during the Halloween season and what better way than with this cult classic horror/comedy!… and one I actually saw in a 42nd Street grind house just before the big ‘clean-up’ ended an era. My only time in one of those theaters and I’m glad I had the expeience.
The story is simple and echoes one of those alien invasion flicks from the 50s with a small California college town being set-upon by a race of aliens, who resemble clowns, with plans of taking over the town and harvesting it’s citizens for food. It’s up to local guy Mike (Grant Kramer) and his girlfriend Debbie (Suzanne Snyder) to somehow convince the stubborn sheriff (John Allen Nelson)… who is also Debbie’s ex-boyfriend… that this is no college prank and the townsfolk are in the midst of a cotton candy covered nightmare. Can Mike save his town from the Bozo-like invaders or will they all find themselves taken to the aliens’ big top shaped mothership to be used as clown food!
Cult classic is a deviously fun romp written, produced and directed by the Chiodo brothers. Every clown cliche in the book is utilized in amusingly gruesome manner from people sealed in cotton candy cocoons, ferocious shadow puppets and popcorn that evolves into jack-in-the-box like creatures, to combating the invaders by shooting them in their big red noses. As shot by Alfred Taylor, the film is as candy colored as it’s villainous clowns and their lethal toys and the production design echoes the nightmare circus it’s supposed to be. Every prop and set has an appropriately circus-esque look but, with a sinister edge that really helps enhance the atmosphere of a sinister big top that director Stephen Chiodo gives this ghoulish delight. And the director does succeed in giving this flick both a sense of dread and a sense of fun as the alien clowns are quite amused by the carnage they create and so are we. We are almost ashamed at how much delight we take in watching a killer clown luring in a little girl while holding a giant mallet behind it’s back or a tiny clown bullied by a biker who gets his block knocked off by the little guy, literally. The Chiodos stuff more clown cliche’s than can fit into a clown car into their midnight movie thriller and all with a sinister edge and the creature effects portraying the villains are very well done, as the rest of the visual FX are charmingly old fashioned. The film can be both spooky and side-splittingly funny and more often than not, at the same time and it works perfectly. Add in John Massari’s spooky circus music imbued score and you’ve got yourself a cult classic midnight movie that accomplishes pretty much everything it set out to do!
The cast all play it fairly straight too, just like in those old 1950’s sci-fi flicks but, you can tell they are having a good time and there are plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments. John Vernon’s mean old cop Mooney chews up the scenery a bit but, it fits his character. Other than that Grant Cramer, John Allen Nelson and Suzanne Snyder all take things serious enough to make it work with the film’s tone of a semi-straight 50s style alien invasion flick… with the invaders being scary clowns with diabolical senses of humor instead of little green men.
A deviously fun cult classic and an almost perfect flick to lighten up your Halloween movie schedule when you need a break from the more intense stuff. Watch it on a night with Night Of The Creeps and The Monster Squad and you’ll have a fun film festival that will still keep the Halloween spirit ghoulishly well.
3 and 1/2 killer klowns!