Guess which part of Judge Paul Pritchard's anatomy is nicknamed Monstro!
Killer Vixens Vs. The Creature From The Deep.
Following a blood-soaked rampage, three deadly women, Beretta (Nelli Scarlet), Blondie (Karli Madden), and Snowball (Kate Watts), arrive in a remote coastal town, hoping to lay low whilst the heat on them dies down. Their attempts to keep a low profile prove to be short-lived, as a dip in the sea catches the attention of Joseph (Norman Yemm), a grouchy old man who rambles on about them risking the lives of everyone in the town. Unsurprisingly, the girls carry on regardless.
Their bravado proves to be unwise, as beneath the waves lies the Kraken, a ferocious beast they have awoken.
What Monstro! lacks in substance, it makes up for with style and fun…almost. The film's opening act drags, with the dialogue lacking the sparkle required to keep the viewer invested. Still, the cast provide good performances, with leading lady Nelli Scarlet possessing a good amount of screen presence. Scarlet has the look and charisma to bring to life the role of Beretta, a real feisty character who doesn't require a man to get her out of any scrapes.
Writer-director Stuart Simpson may not quite convince with his writing, but his work from the director's chair is far more assured, if a little derivative of others. The work of Russ Meyer is an obvious influence, so much so that it's hard to see Monstro! (Region 2) as anything but homage to Meyer as well as numerous monster flicks. This indebtedness to the work of others means Monstro! struggles to really find an identity of its own. Simpson infuses his film with the exploitation film vibe that has been semi-prevalent since Grindhouse, and allows this to drive the film, rather than concentrating on story and characters. Though this may result in a somewhat hollow film, it still makes for an entertaining ride. That said: I'd still like to have gotten to know the three lead characters better, as it would have made Monstro! a far more enticing proposition. As it is, the few flashbacks we get of the girls, though entertaining, aren't really enough to flesh out their characters.
Though the film may encounter the odd stumble through the more exposition-heavy opening two acts, the final act really sees Monstro! come to life, and in doing so, comes close to redeeming the entire picture. Admittedly the film's low budget shows during the battle with the Kraken, but it never detracts from what Simpson is looking to achieve, and that is a balls-to-the-wall fight to the death between woman and sea monster.
Monster Pictures' Monstro! (Region 2) DVD release sports an almost identical set of extras to the earlier Breaking Glass Region 1 release, El Monstro Del Mar! The "Behind-the-Scenes" featurette is fairly standard stuff, and mostly comprises of various members of the cast and crew prepping for a shot. There are several deleted scenes. "Cast Interviews" has pretty much the entire cast discussing the film, having just seen a rough 10-minute cut at the wrap party. "Photo Gallery" is exactly what you'd expect, and is made up mostly of production stills. Two of writer-director Stuart Simpson's short films, "Acid Spiders" and "Sickie," are also included, marking the one deviation from the Region 1 release. "Acid Spiders" is very much in keeping with the main feature, with a strong female cast facing off against a monstrous threat, this time from outer space. Rather than including the short film "Context," Monster Pictures release includes "Sickie." As with the Region 1 release, two commentary tracks are also included, and both are well worth a listen. The first, more technical track, comes from Stuart Simpson (writer-director), Nick Kocsis (Special Makeup Effects Artist) Chris Malone (production assistant), Claire Mueller (costume design), and Fabian Pisani (producer), while the second track features the film's leading ladies. By far the more energetic track, this has plenty of fun anecdotes to enjoy. Finally, the film's trailer is included.
The DVD sports a solid transfer, with colors remaining natural for the most part. The stereo soundtrack offers clear dialogue, with some impressive sound effects helping to liven things up.
Not an essential purchase for fans of cult cinema, Monstro! is like fast food: fun while it lasts, but unable to provide long lasting fulfillment. The film is only truly entertaining sporadically, but there are hints that all involved have a far better movie in them.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Monster Pictures UK
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