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Saturday, January 17, 2015

El Monstro Del Mar (2012)

There have been some great horror films out of Australia in the last few years and so I went into El Monstro Del Mar! with some pretty good expectations sadly this film fell a bit short.

The movie starts off on a nice note as we see three provocatively clad women standing by their stalled car as they await their next victims. Director/writer Stuart Simpson chose to film the opening in black & white just in case we didn’t get that he was doing homage to Russ Meyer’s Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

But what he failed to do is create characters with any definition beyond their appearance; there is no difference between Berretta (Nelli Scarlet), Blondie (Karli Madden) and Snowball (Kate Watts) other than which Suicide Girls type tattoos they are sporting. Berretta is given the most lines and seems the bigger baddass, so that ostensibly makes her the leader of the group, and though Blondie is a little bitchier than the others I kept getting her and Snowball mixed up.

“I’m named after a gun, which makes me the leader.”

Two hapless slobs pull over to help the girls and after a bit of flirting Berretta makes the “cut his throat” gesture then she cuts the throat of the one standing by her. Blood sprays in glorious Technicolor red as the film transitions from black and white to colour as the movie proper begins. The filmmakers do gore quite well but I do wonder if the film would have worked better if they had kept it in black & white. Berretta bitches at Snowball for getting blood all over the interior of the car even though she commanded the throat cutting while the guy was sitting behind the wheel. Did she think her friend could somehow magically direct blood? Even dumber is that they spend the next little while cleaning all the blood up only to steal car that belonged to their victims. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to just the role the murder scene/car in the ditch and torch the evidence?

“Did you pack the Windex?”

The girls arrive at a sleepy seaside town where they plan to lay low at cabin lent to them by a friend (I’m assuming by friend they mean someone they killed and stole their house keys from) and this is when the film shifts gears and becomes a B-Grade monster movie. The girls immediately decide to go frolicking in the ocean only to have an old coot in a wheelchair yell at them to get out of the water.

crazy ralph 
This film’s Crazy Ralph.

The old man is Joseph (Norman Yemm) and his warnings of doom are ignored by the three girls because at no point does he explain why it is bad to be in the water. Sure these three most likely would have ignored him if he told them it was full of man-eating piranhas but who exactly would listen to vague ravings of an old man?  Later we find out that fifteen years ago this now near empty town was full and after people went into the water a monstrous creature came out of the sea and killed EVERYONE but Joseph and his two year old granddaughter Hanna, and for fifteen years no one has gone into the water since with nary an explanation from this idiot.  Also this monster is only awakened by people swimming but not people boating or fishing? Was the monster’s child killed by a group of bathers and now she haunts the shoreline like an aquatic Mrs. Voorhees?

Ringing the dinner bell.

The now seventeen year old Hannah (Kyrie Capri) is invited to party with the girls and though she is at first reticent to join, having never even had a drink before, she is eventually seduced to join the party. There is more flirting and implied girl-on-girl action but the film surprisingly avoids going for the full lesbian erotic scene so at most we get Berretta licking alcohol off one of the girl’s legs.

girl on girl action 
“We’re not gay, we just forgot to pack shot glasses.”

From here on out the film shifts into full on monster mode as we see local fisherman killed by the beast, the creature is apparently a huge monster with tentacles reminiscent of the graboids from Tremors, then come morning when Blondie is discovered missing Berretta and Snowball wander by the scene of a beach massacre with blasé “been there done that” attitude.

give them a hand 
“This was no boating accident.”

The final showdown is fun as we discover that monster is about the size of a house and our “heroes” must engage it in hand to tentacle combat. Timid Hannah steps up to the plate to be the Ripley of this movie as she wields a shotgun and axe against the creature while her wheelchair bound gramps hides in the basement. We get a fair amount gore and the monster effects are quite well done but when the blood finally settles I just found myself not carrying. Stuart Simpson never bothered to give anyone much of a backstory beyond brief flashbacks, the ridiculous history of the monster makes no sense at all and as a result I never found myself invested in any of the characters.

Bloody good party 
Sadly this awesome flashback of carnage has no bearing on the story.

Someone should have told Mr. Simpson that if you are going to homage a certain period or genre you can’t just reference elements you must have your own story to hang it on, sadly this film falls short of the bar.  I truly wanted to like this movie but between the stilted acting of most the cast and the lack of a coherent story I just couldn’t get behind.  And one finally question, “What kind of name is El Monstro Del Mar for a creature of the shores of Australia?

“Dammit, I’m trapped in a Japanese hentai movie!”

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