SHE CREATURE (2001) is the first in a short lived Cinemax series that utilized AIP (American International Pictures) movie titles as springboards for modern interpretations. The series was fittingly entitled “Creature Features” and this inaugural entry centers around a captured mermaid whose final boss monster form is beautifully realized by the late great Stan Winston. There’s a lot of cozy waterlogged atmosphere thanks to the story taking place mainly on a boat circa 1905 (In fact, it’s a bit of a cinematic precursor to THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER and the strong cast includes the likes of Rufus Sewell and Carla Gugino. Few cinematic monsters are as sympathetic as the exploited creature presented here and her ultimate true form reveal is surprisingly satisfying.
THE BEAST WITHIN (1982) had one of the most intriguing ad campaigns I can recall from my youth and even though the film doesn’t quite live up to its threatening, “we dare you to watch” reputation it still offers more than a few unforgettable sights. Heck, this is one of the few films that gave me nightmares BEFORE I actually saw it! Paul Clemens plays Michael MacClearly whose puberty is especially problematic due to his being the product of his mother being raped by a giant locust of some sort. Scriptwriter Tom (CHILD’S PLAY, FRIGHT NIGHT) Holland tries his best to make the murky material make sense but best to just go with the flow and appreciate the special effects (that cross the line into hilariously cartoonish at points) and the effectively swampy southern locale.
MOSQUITO (1994) can easily be mistaken for a by-the-numbers giant insect flick (please don’t confuse it with the previous year’s far inferior SKEETER) but it’s super fun, covertly clever and features some (literally) eye-popping effects. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if a garden variety mosquito sucked the blood from an alien whose ship crash landed on earth, the outlandish answers you are looking for are here. You’ll also encounter an appearance by the lead guitarist of The Stooges (Ron Asheton) and a rousing tribute to THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE featuring original Leatherface Gunner Hanson. All in all, this is a rollicking good time you'd be wrong to swat.
PROPHECY (1979) had a movie poster and print ad declaring it “The Monster Movie” and with its giant mutant bear aberration (her name is actually Katahdin and it’s not her fault her mom ate mercury tainted fish), it did not renege on that promise. Director John Frankenheimer does his best to carve something dignified out of writer David (THE OMEN) Seltzers’ stew of Indian folklore, corporate greed and environmental reprimands and if he doesn’t quite succeed at least we get to see folks torn limb from limb. It’s unlikely critics were ever going to happily swallow this creature rampage hokum but let it be said that there’s at least one scene in this film (you all know I’m referring to the exploding sleeping bag incident) that had more impact on a generation than anything witnessed in far better received thrillers of its era. In any case, PROPHECY will always loom as an epic monster movie (and a fountain of nostalgia) in my mind and who needs critic’s approval when you got a giant mutated bear on your side?
THE BOOGENS (’82) are tricycle-sized varmints with glassy eyes and bodies that resemble a giant crab shoved into a turtle shell. These poor creatures were perfectly content to hang out underground twiddling their tentacles until some wise guys decided to re-open their mine that was specifically closed down due to multiple boogen-related deaths. Anyone who follows these pages knows this is my go-to winter comfort horror movie thanks to its super charming leads, quaint locale and commitment to spotlighting an adorable doggie named Tiger. I could go on and on and indeed I have HERE.