Appellate Judge Tom Becker tried to visit Dog Island, but he wasn't up-to-date on his shots.
It's loose…it's angry…and it's getting hungry.
Humongous features all kinds of elements that should make it an exploitation dream. There's a graphic and violent rape, a vicious and lethal dog attack, an exploding boat, a mysterious island, some vapid and occasionally naked young people, and a hungry monster type.
But somehow, despite all this raw material waiting to be exploited, Humongous is an oddly dispassionate hybrid of slasher and monster movie. It's not a bad movie, it's just…"eh."
We open up in the '40s, at a party. An evidently wealthy young woman is being pursued by a drunken lout. Rather than go in to the party—where there's all kind of people—she flees to the woods. He follows her, and as you'd expect from a drunken lout, viciously (and kind of graphically in this Unrated edition) rapes her.
As you're wondering which way this will go—the Sweet Bird of Youth route, wherein she'll have him castrated, or the Luke and Laura route, wherein the rape will bring them closer together—the woman's pet German shepherds appear on the scene and chew the guy into grizzle before our lady has the final word and conks him on his already-bleeding head with a rock.
Flash-forward, and it's 1982. We meet our protagonists, a group of patently uninteresting teens who are going on a boat trip. Three of them are siblings, but that doesn't really make a whole lot of difference. Along the way, they pick up another young guy who's stranded in a small boat.
The small-boat strandee tells them about a nearby island they should avoid—Dog Island, so nicknamed because a crazy old woman lives there with a bunch of…well, dogs, I mean, it's "Dog Island," right? Anyway, the stowaway spends a lot of time telling the kids all kinds of stuff that we could have figured out on our own, including that they should steer the boat away from the foreboding island.
After this build-up, it's clear that Dog Island is their destiny of misfortune, but how will they get there? Writer William Gray and director Paul Lynch solve this conundrum with a brilliant bit of mise en scene-ery: a drunken teen grabs the boat's steering wheel, screams something like, "I want to go this way!" and crashes the Minnow (or whatever it was called) into the rocks that surround Dog Island. Boom! Crash! Everything shakes, the boat catches fire (and explodes in slo-mo), and our day sailors are now castaways.
So, here's the latest set-up update: marooned kids, one missing and feared dead, another with a broken leg (can't run if a humongous creature tries to eat you, dude); an island filled with snarling German shepherds and a crazy old woman; and, we presume, something or other that will justify the title Humongous, and since this isn't a porn film, we can assume that the titular Humongous thingie will be causing all sorts of headaches for survivors.
Ready to play?
Well, the movie sort of is and sort of isn't.
There is a beastie of sorts running around Dog Island, and while it's lethal, it doesn't quite justify the title, looking more like Joaquin Phoenix during his faux-rapper period than something you'd call "humongous." It has a backstory that we pretty much figure out by default and that the kids laboriously piece together while waiting to be torn to shreds, as is the wont of beasties such as this.
While it's nicely shot and reasonably suspenseful, Humongous never really takes off. The mystery of the creature is never fully explained, which kind of hampers the impact. There's an interesting scene near that end that either rips off, was co-opted by, or is coincidentally similar to a scene in Friday the 13th Part 2, but beyond that, this pretty well chugs along without a whole lot of high points; one of the boys actually screams like Jamie Lee Curtis as he's about to be humongified, and that, actually, is pretty impressive. Gore is minimal, which is unfortunate, as excessive grue is generally a selling point of these things.
Another notch in the ever-expanding belt of Katarina's Nightmare Theater, this release from Scorpion offers a pretty terrific transfer—particularly terrific if you'd seen this in any previous home video incarnation, in which the already dark film was basically unwatchable. The image is very clear with solid contrast. Audio is served up in a perfectly reasonable Dolby Mono track.
Scorpion also offers up a couple of decent extras. In addition to the trailer—along with trailers for other KNT films—there's the "R-Rated Opening Sequence," which is a slightly watered down version of the rape-'n'-chew-stick prologue edited down for U.S. audiences (Humongous is a Canadian production). Best, though, is a commentary, moderated by host Katarina Leigh Waters, featuring Gray, Lynch, and "Horror Historian" Nathaniel Thompson. This is a lively track, dominated by Gray and Lynch (as it should be), and it adds a lot to the Humongous experience. Of course, you have the option of watching Katarina's Nightmare Theater: Humongous with or without Katarina's intro and outro.
While it might not be the shocker it should be, Humongous is a pretty entertaining bit of horror fluff from the days when people took this stuff seriously. The good-looking transfer and worthwhile supplements make this work checking out.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Scorpion Releasing
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