Elite Entertainment // 2003 // 81 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // April 16th, 2004
Don't get caught with your pants down!
It's almost time for the big annual Chili Cook-off, and the citizens of Butte County are blissfully unaware of the evil all around. While performing top-secret experiments in his lab at DuTech, the evil Dr. Stern has stumbled upon some unstable DNA. When his assistant is exposed to it, she melts into a pile of radioactive poo. Hoping to cover his corn-flecked tracks, the insidious experimenter disposes of the genetic mess in the local sewer. As fate would have it, escaped serial killer and noted fecalphiliac Jack Schmitt is using the subterranean lemonade and fudge freeway to mastermind his escape. Naturally, the authorities stop him and before you know it, Schmitt is covered in the bad Doc's dirty doody water. He dissolves and mutates into an eight-foot-tall killer piece of crap that stalks unsuspecting victims while they're on the throne. FBI Agent Hannigan, who first tracked Schmitt in his pre-feces days, is brought back on the case to crack this butt nugget nastiness once and for all. But she needs help, and all she has is a drunken, dejected sheriff, a couple of dunce-capped deputies, and an entomologist with a cat carrier filled with about a million flies. Will the foxy Fed and her collection of incompetent law enforcement fools be able to stop this BM beast before it stinks up the competition con carne? Or will the Monsturd be the last loaf standing?
Somewhere between genius and the juvenile lies Monsturd. It is either the most hilarious, well-intentioned horror spoof ever conceived, or the lamest one-joke jive ever unspooled onto DVD. Your reaction to it will be based solely on how you respond to the following statement: A biochemical accident causes a serial killer to genetically meld with a sewer full of shit to become a gigantic fiend made of feces. Hijinks ensue. If, after digesting that description, you're doubled over in laughter (or at least smiling and snickering), you're going to absolutely love this film. If, however, you believe the idea is sophomoric, simple, and just plain stupid, you'll probably find Monsturd another in a long line of dumb demonic drivel. And no one would blame you for approaching this movie apprehensively, like you would the restroom after your obese roommate has finished flushing out the last of his 7-11 burrito.
Films like Jack Frost (killer snowman), Killer Tongue (sinful oral appendage), and Killer Condom ('nuff said) have pushed the envelope of terror ticklishness into the patently absurd, but Monsturd sets a brand new skidmark in fright flick tomfoolery. Showing a sense of style, a commitment to clever cinema and a brand of humor far more developed than your normal labor-of-love videodrome, this is one of the best, more entertainingly satirical monster movie massacres ever created. Like Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker and some of Troma's more "toxic" titles, Monsturd gets it all correct: atmosphere, references, and wickedly witty execution. It can occasionally lapse into retarded toilet humor, but what do you expect from a movie with an evil entity of excrement as its lead character?
No matter your predilection for the premise or the bad-taste tone, you have to admit that co-writers/co-directors/lead actors Rick Popko and Dan West (talk about your hyphenated multi-tasking power trio duo) have crafted one of the best looking, most professional-feeling no-budget homemade films ever. The two-year in the making ode to offal far exceeds the cinematic stylings of most independent films, and shows a buttload more imagination and fun. Gleaning inspiration from such diverse sources as Herschell Gordon Lewis, mainstream movies, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Italian horror heavyweights Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, this cornucopia of crapola is a blissful bowel movement of joyful dung jokes wrapped inside a brainy farce with hilarious characters.
Using a set-piece style that gives each actor a chance to shine, the highlights are absolutely hysterical. Such standout sequences as the hippie hand puppet interrogation, the overly dramatic domestic dispute over a filthy commode, and the stream of consciousness megaphone spiel from the cops deliver untold moments of solid gold giggling. And then there is poop. Everyone knows that turds are a laugh riot. Little kids enjoy playing with their own stool as a simple pastime. The Bear in the Big Blue House seemed pleased to address the potty training of those burdened by "booms." Heck, any comic worth his weight in brick backdrops understands that Hershey squirts are the skills that pay the bills. And Monsturd ladles on the loads with septic tank-like regularity. After all, this is a movie about a killer doody. Poo is gonna fly, fling, and fight for its life. Folks are gonna meet their maker at the pinched loafs of a psychotic shite. Puns, metaphors, and similes are tossed at the audience in groan-inducing dog piles. And it's all funny as hell.
But somehow, even with massive amounts of rump pudding soft-serve soaring around the screen (and onto actors and props and sets, etc.), the moviemaking manages to rise above the obvious bottom-rung classification to make "number two" Number One for fans of fright and funny. West and Popko are obvious pop culture junkies -- you can count the numerous references they make to classic films, odd cult faves, and current comic creations. Between riffs on Blood Feast, Jaws, Alien, The Evil Dead, Se7en, Day of the Dead, Ghostbusters, and South Park (the guys' own animated rip-off of the TV show is brilliant!), they manage to steal from a veritable Who's Who of horror and monster movie icons to infuse their film with Simpsons-like irony. There are even hidden in-jokes and tossed off asides (pay close attention to the "Wanted" posters in the police office) to add a depth of demented vision to all the ca-ca craziness. West and Popko are fine directors, able to keep the action moving while copycatting framing from their film favorites. The acting is also superb. Comedy is all about timing and tempo, and everyone here -- from the directors themselves to Paul Weiner as the alcoholic sheriff Duncan and Beth West as the only fictional FBI agent that would make Scully seem sunny -- is up to the challenge. With a dozen other professionals and non-performers (who stick out like a riotously funny bone) Monsturd gets to combine the best of all worlds to make a movie about bowel movements that is gross, yet great; charming, yet ready for a whole mountain of Charmin.
Visually, Monsturd looks brand-new-porcelain-bowl pristine. The direct-to-video transfer is superb, with no flaring or defects whatsoever. In 1.33:1, the images are sharp, detailed, and realistic enough to churn a few filthy-toilet-temperamental tummies. Sonically, West and Popko once again prove their brilliance by having a real live, over-the-top and terrifically atmospheric musical score (by supposed Emmy winner Marshall Crutcher) set the ambiance and feeling for their film. The Dolby Digital 5.1 really keeps the voices vibrant while allowing the composing to color in the scenery. And make sure you hang around for the credits, over which the haunting, hilarious jazz-joke theme song Number 2: The Ballad of Monsturd plays. Like Shaving Cream in the '70s, this is one stank-based singalong that will earworm its way into daily conversations almost immediately.
To top it all off, the DVD also offers a commentary track that proves where the very high level of humor and inventiveness came from during the making of Monsturd. West and Popko, along with Dan Burr (Dr. Stern) and Beth West (FBI Agent Hannigan) sit down to shoot the shi...stuff about their mookie stinks movie, with uproarious results. They deconstruct the plot and their own director's tricks. They kid each other over moments of off-script stupidity. They comment on their cinematic change in sexuality (West wonders when, exactly, his character went from a Barney Fife-ish deputy to...flamingly gay? And is there a difference?) and, by the end, have moved away from the nuts and bolts of low-budget bedlam to MST3K style quipping on what they are witnessing onscreen. Add an interesting trailer, a neat behind-the-scenes featurette that shows how some of the movie was made (and how "hands on" the directors really were) and you've got one fantastic, frenzied DVD.
Be advised: you really have to love your mud blowing and nut log rolling to really enjoy Monsturd. If you can't find the fun in floating a trout, cooking a brown carrot, or percolating some juicy ass coffee -- or better yet, you think the whole notion of celebrating stool seems adolescent -- skip this remarkable, ridiculous movie and go watch something starring Julia Roberts. Wait, isn't that the same thing?
Review content copyright © 2004 Bill Gibron; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Elite Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Commentary Track
* Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
* Official Site