Ben Robins on the five weirdest monster movies ever…
With the Godzilla/King Kong universe getting a sudden resurgence, and Cloverfield taking things into franchise territory at long last, the monster movie is suddenly in something of an unexpected heyday as far as Hollywood is concerned. Whether they’re human size or intergalactically huge, monsters of all shapes and origins are popping up all over the place, even, this week, in an indie dramedy starring Anne Hathaway.
A coming-of-age style drama about a down-and-out party girl returning to her hometown (with added Kaiju), Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal finally takes its UK bow this week, taking the title of one of the weirdest monster placements in movie history. So we thought it only appropriate to round-up some similarly strange creature-features, from alcohol-fearing tentacle beasts, to a killer whale with a deadly vengeance.
Somewhat riding the wave of success that followed Steven Spielberg’s Jaws in the second half of the 1970s, Michael Anderson followed his seminal sci-fi classic Logan’s Run with this bizarre sea-set revenge story. Richard Harris stars as a sea-captain/hunter who quickly finds himself on the shit-list of the ocean’s other deadliest predator, following an unfortunate incident involving murder and said killer whale’s family. The thriller that follows is an unsurprisingly campy bloodbath that sees the orca in question tearing its way through everyone Harris’s captain has ever loved, known or even just spoken to, following every spectacular murder with a celebratory series of mocking flips/calls that stand as pretty much the ocean-creature equivalent to a well-meaning middle finger.
In many ways, it’s the anti-Blackfish, ending on one of the most unusual man vs. monster face-offs ever. Not quite what you’d expect from what started as a Jaws clone, Orca is infinitely more fun than a lot of the Spielberg-focussed sequels too.
Taking the whole monster movie spirit in a similar direction to the likes of Colossal, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead strip back a lot of the horror usually associated with the genre and focus more on a romance instead. A romance between a young American man ditching all of his stateside problems for a trip to Italy, and a beautiful local woman who’s secretly an immortal sea creature that frequently transforms into a tentacle-laden beast. It’s a total rollercoaster of emotions, that’s far sweeter and understandably more sensitive than the usual creature-feature fare, with a hefty dose of creativity powering the whole thing along too. Still weird though. Very, very weird.
Following the stark raving success of quintessential monster hit Godzilla, the Japanese Kaiju king himself, Ishirô Honda, followed it up with a series of similarly silly sci-fi movies about everything from flying walruses, to intergalactic jellyfish. The most bonkers of the lot though was arguably Matango, a shipwreck drama about a group of deserted islanders that find themselves taken over by an evil race of gigantic living… mushrooms. Taking the classic 60s “men in rubber suits” approach, it’s 100% as ridiculous as it sounds, and 100% as enjoyable too.
Tormented’s Jon Wright followed up his horror obsession with another darkly comic and mega gory hit, this time about bloodsucking aliens feeding on a rural Irish town with a penchant for drinking. Noticing that the monsters in question (faceless, tentacle-covered blobs) take a heavy disliking to the amount of booze in their prey’s blood, the heroes of the film start fighting the ongoing invasion the only way they know how: by getting as drunk as humanly possible. Whilst it still holds on to quite a few of the expected genre mishaps, Grabbers is very much a unique stab at a standard formula and only ends up better, the weirder it gets.
Pterodactyl Woman From Beverly Hills (1997)
Last, and in many ways least, despite having the greatest title of the lot, this late-90s Troma comedy casts Vacation’s Beverly D’Angelo as the Beverly Hills woman of the title, who quickly finds herself cursed with turning into an ancient pterodactyl after her husband pisses off a shaman. Hilarity supposedly ensues, and although it comes from The Beast Within’s Philippe Mora, this one’s far from Troma’s best work. It does however, stand as easily the weirdest plot on the list and is home to some of the strangest monster-related moments possibly in any film ever. The sub-Buffy season 1, half-woman, half-pterodactyl rubber suit must be seen to be believed.
Ben Robins / @BMLRobins