After the entire Icons crew walked out of a recent screening of the flick SHOOT ‘EM UP, Mike C turned to me and said, “If you loved that, you have to check out MONSTER MAN.” SHOOT ‘EM UP was the most fun action flick we’d all collectively seen since… I don’t know… COMMANDO? (Which is funny, considering most of us saw COMMANDO on cable at farrrr too young an age.) But anyways – the reason I’m gushing so much over SHOOT ‘EM UP is not only because I love Clive Owen, think Paul Giamatti is a bad ass and would give up parts of my anatomy to sniff Monica Bellucci, but it was because I had just found out that the writer/director behind such an entertaining flick had also dabbled in the horror genre a few years back!
Yep, filmmaker Michael Davis made this little genre flick called MONSTER MAN back in 2003, and Mike recommended it to me highly. Considering our tastes are fairly similar (Hell, we created this site, didn’t we?), I sought out the DVD and picked it up a few short days later.
The verdict? MONSTER MAN is a fun, hilarious and a great little gem of a horror movie!
What’s the story? Ok. Buddies Adam and Harley are on a cross-country trip headed down to the wedding of Adam’s life-long crush, Bettie-Anne. (Actually, the chick he always did homework for and who’s never seen him as anything more then her geeky friend.) Harely’s a bit of a jerk, constantly busting Adam’s chops, calling him a “wuss” and trying to persuade him that Bettie-Anne is a “whore”. He’s so much of a loud-mouth that during their various pit stops, Harley goes out of his way to make-fun of a lot of the locals out loud. They eventually pick up a smokin’ hot hitchhiker named Sarah. (Played by Aimee Brooks. More on her in a second.) And shortly thereafter start getting harassed on the road by a giant monster truck. The driver it turns out… happens to be a monster. (Yes, a monster driving a monster truck! I love it just as much as SHOOT ‘EM UP’s gun fight in a gun factory. Michael Davis is a genius!) They spend a good chunk of time on the run, trying to convince the local law enforcement that there’s a maniac after them, when all hell breaks loose.
The thing that works so well about this movie is the perfect balance of humor, horror and gore. The first half of the movie is really, really funny, and Davis captures the natural conversations between two friends so beautifully and truthfully. It feels real. By the time the film hit the 50-60 minute mark, I wasn’t sure how much further they could stretch the chase from “fuck-face” (a name Harley coins because their antagonist “has a fucked up face! So he’s fuck-face”). But then the third act was so out of left field that it just MADE the entire movie and firmly placed it well within the horror genre. Just… see for yourself. Don’t want to spoil it for you.
The actors were great all around. When it’s this small a cast, you hope that you’re going to spend your 90 minutes with some charming motherfuckers and in this case, you get your money’s worth. Eric Jungmann plays Adam and portrays the geek angle well enough to make him totally relatable and likable without being annoying. Just about every article of his clothing has velcro on it and you can’t help but laugh at his interaction with Harley through-out the entire picture. You really root for him too when Sarah comes into the picture. (Could the geek actually GET the super-hot hitchhiker? Well, we’re hoping!) Speaking of Sarah, writer/director Davis mentions on the making-of featurette how actress Aimee Brooks came into her audition and he just immediately had a crush on her. Let me take that a few steps further. I am totally in love with Aimee Brooks after this movie. Seriously, I hope she comes across this review so she can see my declaration of love in print! (Comment! E-mail me! Whatever!) She’s really good in this and her performance alone is compelling me to throw THE MANGLER REBORN on my Netflix rental queue. Michael Baily Smith plays “fuck-face”. What can I say? This guy is great at being an intimidating monster. (See HILLS HAVE EYES remake.) Let’s not forget about Justin Urich (Harley). Although he’s a wise-ass and a jerk for the majority of the movie, you can’t help but like this guy. It’s like that one buddy of yours that’s always being an asshole on purpose, but whom you’ve come to find it’s his most endearing quality.
Credit should really go to writer/director Michael Davis. Seriously, I’ve discovered 2 of his movies in one month and both were among the most entertaining films I’d seen in ages. Check out MONSTER MAN and SHOOT ‘EM UP. I’m going to dig back further into his film career because I have a feeling I’m going to dig his early comedies as well.
The DVD features a brief making-of featurette. It’s pretty cool and explains how the producers came to Davis with only the title and how he immediately thought it’d be cool is they had a monster who stalked people in a monster truck. Brilliant. Rent or buy this one. –Robg.
Buy it on Amazon.com!