Elite Entertainment // 1994 // 56 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // October 25th, 2002
"Absolutely no babies were injured or placed at risk during the making of this picture."
Who would have thought that it took three and a half years to make
this 56 minute homage to horror films of the '30s? Who would have thought
that this little film would cost the writer/director $30,000 of his own money?
Who would have thought a boring film like this would end up being released on
DVD? Not even worthy of being an episode on the new Twilight Zone on UPN,
That Little Monster can be boiled down into three easy points:
* It's the slowest 56 minute story you'll probably ever watch as it's a plodding, uninspired tale that takes three hours to get to the payoff.
* The story is too thin to support the film, even at only fifty-six minutes.
* The film is all style and no substance.
The plot has us watching a very bad evening unfold in the life of Jamie, a foreign exchange student who has been recently hired to babysit the Wolper Willock. As you should imagine, the Willocks are quite the unusual married couple who are going out to a masquerade party tonight. They've hired Jamie to watch after their newborn, who is normally quite the angelic child but does have moments where he's an absolute monster -- and tonight is one of those nights. While this is certainly the worst night in Jaime's life, this very well could be the worst hour of your life as you try and stay awake to see who will win the epic battle: little, ugly Wolper or dainty, pretty Jamie.
Evoking the feel of early horror (or so I gather), That Little Monster focuses all of its energy on visual appeal and forgets to keep us entertained with a fulfilling plot. More painful than the sorry script is the lousy acting from our cast -- though I'm not completely certain if it's bad acting, over acting, or a combination of both. Shot in full frame black & white, some might consider that a double whammy right from the start, but as it's paying tribute to the classic horror of yesteryear, it actually serves the film well. Unfortunately, the video transfer is as weak the plot, for it's soft and grainy with insufficient black definition and detail -- which is a must for a black and white film. Oddly enough, there are occasional scenes when the film is perfect: solid black detail and absolutely no grain whatsoever. Thoroughly surprising is the 2.0 Dolby Digital track that is hands down the absolute best 2.0 track I've ever heard. The music, the effects, the dialogue are superbly rendered and easily outshine many 5.1 tracks I've recently heard. However they did it, that information needs to be shared with all other studios.
This quirky story boasts some nice bonus features so you don't feel short-changed with a 56-minute story. First, there's an audio commentary track with director/write Paul Bunnell and producer/editor Carl Mastromarino that is very entertaining -- far more than the movie itself. The two have a lively and informing chat about the film and share a wealth of trivia about their movie. Well done! Next, there's a 19-minute film called "The Visitant" that Bunnell created back in the early '80s. This story is immensely more entertaining than the main feature, though the acting is still in the gutter. Lastly, there's an unusual interview from a show called "The Best List" where Bunnell comes across as someone who's had just a bit too much sugar that morning.
Paul Bunnell is a man with obvious talents in creating a visually exciting film; unfortunately, his skills as a writer need a lot more work. As satisfying as it may be to watch That Little Monster, there's no true horror, drama, or suspense to propel the story forward. Hopefully he'll either learn to write better or leave that part of the process to someone else; for I wouldn't be adverse to see his directing talents again.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Elite Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 56 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary with Director Paul Bunnell and Producer Carl Mastromarino
* "The Visitant" Short Film
* Interview on "The Best List"