Case Number 01963: Small Claims Court


Sony // 2001 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // June 14th, 2002

The Charge

What started out as a simple game...became a virtual nightmare!

The Case

When video game developer Clayton Software hires on some new recruits to work on one of their newest (and goriest) video games, the programmers are in for a tough challenge and some high tech horror! Led by the slimy Drummond (Stephen Culp, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday), the rag tag group of techno geeks includes the grizzly Hardcore (Taylor Mane, X-Men), the attitude driven Sol (Karim Prince), the nerdy "Bug" (Jason Marsden, TV's Boy Meets World), and the cute intern Laura (Clea Duvall, The Faculty). Their job is to finish up the game "Evilution" in less than four weeks and make the monster the scariest guy this side of "Resident Evil." As an added incentive is a million dollar bonus to the programmer who makes the monster über-scary. When the motion-capture cyber suit used by the workers becomes possessed, the group is suddenly face-to-face with a robotic monstrosity more hideous than anything they could have created!

How to Make a Monster is the third in Stan Winston's "Creature Feature" film series, and like any true sequel it's sub-par when compared to the first two entries (the decent She-Creature and the so-so Earth Vs. The Spider). Those looking for genuine chills and originality will be sorely disappointed -- How to Make a Monster is bland tofu compared to almost any other horror movie sitting on your local video store shelves. The film utilizes the age old monster movie plot: throw a batch of people in a small, dark area with a snarling, supernatural beastie and watch the magic ignite. From the get go it's obvious that How to Make a Monster was created as a straight-to-video (or cable) release with all the trappings of low-budget entertainment: Q-grade actors, brain-numbingly dull dialogue, and limited special effects. Clea Duvall, no stranger to horror with such movies as The Faculty and John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars on her résumé, does okay as a warm hearted intern who must fight the monster in the last act (those who feel I've spoiled the film will note that not one single character shares her good guy qualities, thus making Duvall's character the only noteworthy protagonist). The rest of the cast, including the imposing Taylor Mane, try to do what they can with their roles...which ends up being nothing. Those hoping to see a cool cyborg monster should check out the Jamie Lee Curtis monster flick Virus instead: the production values are higher and the effects much more exciting. In the end it's obvious that Stan Winston's involvement on this film was evidently minimal -- either that or I'm sorely disappointed in this sluggish effort from the guy who gave us the monsters from Jurassic Park III and The Relic.

How to Make a Monster is presented in what seems to be 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen (no mention is made on the package). While the transfer appears sharp and detailed without many defects, it's nothing to write home about. Also included on this disc is a full frame version of the film. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in English and French. Much like the video presentation, this soundtrack is only fair with some (but not many) directional effects present. Also included on this disc are English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai subtitles. The extra features for How to Make a Monster are pretty slim -- included on this disc is a pointless "making-of" featurette, a few photo galleries with drawings, behind-the-scenes images and more, theatrical trailers for some other Columbia TriStar horror titles, a few short filmographies on the principle cast and crew, and some DVD-ROM content for a personal computer.

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 63

Perp Profile
Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)

* English
* Chinese
* French
* Korean
* Portuguese
* Spanish
* Thai

Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* "Making-of" Featurette
* Photo Gallery
* Theatrical Trailers
* Filmographies
* DVD-ROM Content

* IMDb

* Stan Winston Studios