Friday, November 6, 2009

Monster Man (USA, 2003)

"Dude I think you just ate somebody."

Prior to Monster Man, director Michael Davis gained his experience by directing a variety of mostly lame and forgettable teen-exploitation sex comedies, namely Eight Days a Week (1997 / trailer), 100 Girls (2000 / trailer) and Girl Fever (2002 / trailer). Not exactly an auspicious past for a director to have when it comes to making a successful gore comedy, and, in fact, after roughly the first half-hour of Monster Man the viewer is pretty much convinced that Michael Davis definitely tackled the wrong genre for his fifth directorial attempt. But then, something unexpected happens! Monster Man becomes just the type of trash that makes for a fun beer-drenched night with the guys. And in no short order it becomes easy to understand how Davis then went on to make a much more tasteful but just as fun A-budget B-film like Shoot 'Em Up (2007 / trailer).
Much like his lame sex comedies, the lead males of Monster Man are geeks, the type of guys that you’d only invite to a party ‘cause you feel sorry for them. Adam (Eric Jungmann, last seen in Killer Pad [2008/ trailer]) is driving across country to the wedding of Betty-Ann, the great love that got away. Unbeknownst to him, is old bud Harley (Justin Urich, last seen in Lake Placid 2 [2007 / trailer]), an overweight and obnoxious loudmouth, has stowed away in the back seat. Buds being buds, after a lot of unfunny stuff they continue the journey together, during which they do and say a lot of other unfunny stuff which is meant to be funny – a running joke about a minor piece of trivia regarding the supposed true meaning of the name "Rosebud" as originally revealed by Gore Vidal in 1989 and repeated in The American Experience, a 1996 documentary, for example, is dragged out like a month of Sunday School lectures.
Things pick up, however, as of the rather tasteless scene combining roadkill with Harley’s dreaming that he's going down on non-waxed women; at that point, the film takes the right turn off the road straight into fine and unrepentant trash tastelessness and gore. And once the two dudes pick-up the unrealistically hot hitchhiker Sarah (Aimee Brooks, whose film debut at the age of 12 was Sorority House Massacre [1986 / trailer] and whose last film of note is The Mangler Reborn [2005 / trailer]) with her push-up bra and high-heel boots and the three then get lost on backroads populated only by amputated hillbillies, the film finally turns into something truly funny and hilariously gory.
OK, the film isn’t as consistently excessive in tastelessness and gore as, say, vintage Peter Jackson – basically his first three films: Bad Taste (1987 / trailer), Meet the Feebles (1989 / trailer) and the classic Braindead (1992 / trailer) – but once director Michael Davis introduces a monster truck driven by a monster man and finally tones down on the un-funny frat-house banter and ups the dosage of violence and blood, Monster Man achieves a consistent hilarity and vulgarity that truly saves the film. It’s just a shame that Aimee Brooks obviously had a no-nudity clause in her contract, for the film’s only sex scene never even gets her fully out of her clothes, much less her bra.
In short, Monster Man is an odd combination of frat boy road movie and psycho trucker film that veers off at the end into the territory of in-bred killer hillbillies, all the while serving up big portions of bad-taste humour and more than enough blood and gore. Much like a kettle of cold water on a hot stove, the flick takes awhile to get hot, but once it boils it boils.

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