Directed by Michael Davis
Produced by Yitzhak Ginsberg, Ehud Bleiberg & Larry Rattner
Written by Michael Davis
Director of Photograpy Matthew Irving
Music by John Coda
Cast: Eric Jungmann, Justin Urich, Aimee Brooks, Michael Bailey Smith & Joe Goodrich
2003/95 mins/Color/5.1 DD
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Lions Gate Home Entertainment DVD
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, the meeting were a person with an idea for a movie (be that a writer, director, etc.) meets with the person who can provide potential financing for the film is known as a "pitch meeting". The stereotype for the pitch is that the person pitching the idea will attempt to connect their idea with other successful films, stating that it's like _________ meets ________ . (I've got a really good one, but I won't share it here.) While watching movies, I often try to imagine how the idea was sold, and as I was watching MONSTER MAN, the same thought kept occurring to me: It's like CLERKS meets JEEPERS CREEPERS. Can you wrap your mind around that?
As MONSTER MAN opens, we meet Adam (Eric Jungmann) an anal-retentive young man who is driving cross-country to attend the wedding of Betty-Ann. Adam soon discovers Harley (Justin Urich) hiding in the backseat. We soon learn that Adam and Harley used to be friends, but they had a falling out over Betty-Ann, as Adam had a secret crush on her and Harley tried to convince his friend that she was nothing but trouble. Now, on the eve of Betty-Ann's wedding, Adam has decided that he will find her and tell her that he loves her. Harley has decided to tag-along and re-kindle his friendship with Adam. As these two travel, we see that they are total opposites; Adam is very meticulous and neat and carries everything that he needs in velcro pockets; Harley is a loud-mouthed slob who fancies himself to be a worldly sex-machine. When they stop for a meal at a small diner, Harley makes many loud remarks about the "dumb" locals and their love for monster trucks. These words come back to haunt him when he and Adam are soon being pursued by a savage monster truck whose driver appears to be less than human. Fleeing from the truck, they continue on their journey, soon picking up another passenger, the sexy Sarah (Aimee Brooks). But, as the dead bodies begin to pile up and the truck becomes more aggressive, Sarah begins to regret accepting a ride with the bickering Adam and Harley.
I wrote the above synopsis because I always put a synopsis in my reviews, but nothing can describe MONSTER MAN better than "CLERKS meets JEEPERS CREEPERS". Be sure, there are some horrific elements in the first 53 minutes of the film, but much of that time is taken up with Adam and Harley arguing about sex and girls, with most of the talk focusing on the fact that Adam is a virgin and he was always afraid to tell Betty-Ann how he felt. As they pick at one another, it's very easy to picture Adam as Dante and Harley as Randall. The only difference being that Harley is totally annoying while Randall was annoying, yet still pretty damn funny. Which brings us to the first major problem in MONSTER MAN. Harley is such an asshole that he makes the film challenging to watch. Anyway, if you subtract the monster-truck scenes form the first hour of the movie, this could have easily been a Kevin Smith road movie, even down to the STAR WARS references. Writer/director Michael Davis' previous efforts have been kids movies and romantic-comedies (his 100 GIRLS is worth seeing), so it's not surprising that the film would follow this dialogue-heavy route. As for the JEEPERS CREEPERS aspects of MONSTER MAN, the second that the large, rusty monster truck appears on-screen, it's hard to not think instantly think of JEEPERS CREEPERS. And when the driver is revealed to be something seemingly supernatural, that comparison becomes even more solidified.
So, it sounds as if MONSTER MAN is a totally unoriginal movie. Well, that may be a bit of an overstatement, but there's no avoiding the fact that it will remind you of other movies. And there are some moments during the arguing in the first half of the film when things get quite boring. But, the during the last 1/3 of the movie, MONSTER MAN really comes to life and Davis turns this road movie into something a little more akin to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. The finale may contain one of the most ludicrous scenes that I've come across in years, but it's gory and intense. Therefore, MONSTER MAN isn't a complete loss. The last reel of the movie contains some great twists and there is gore aplenty. The monster truck has an interesting design and the way that it can seemingly lunge forward makes it quite menacing. The cast is good and Aimee Brooks is that rare horror film actress who can be sexy without coming off as skanky. You'll feel as if you've seen much of MONSTER MAN before, but that doesn't diminish the fact that kiddie-filmmaker Davis packs a punch with the finale.
But the reason that I must give MONSTER MAN a thumbs up has to do with Harley's shoes. Throughout the film, Harley proclaims himself to be a ladies man and immediately comes on to Sarah. Yet, I couldn't help but notice that he was wearing clogs. Now, I don't want to degrade anyone's footwear, but can you be a chick magnet in clogs? MONSTER MAN easily won my good graces when the oddness of Harley's clogs are pointed out by Adam in one of the most harrowing scenes in the film. This had me on the edge of my seat and laughing at the same time, and that's a rare feat.
MONSTER MAN roars onto DVD courtesy of Lions Gate Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks very good, as much of the film takes place in the bright daylight and there is little grain on the image. The colors are good and any bright colors contrast well with the dusty brown locations. The picture is well-balanced and has a nice amount of depth. I did notice some artifacting at times and there were problems when horizontal lines were present on-screen, but otherwise the transfer looked good. The DVD features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which is very good as well. The track delivers clear dialogue with no hissing or distortion. The highlight of this track is the roar of the monster truck, which feels all of the speakers and hammers the subwoofer. This dimension really adds to the tension of those scenes.
The MONSTER MAN disc carries a handful of extras. The "Electronic Press Kit" (20 minutes) (On-screen title "The Making of MONSTER MAN") contains many clips from the film and also offers comments from Michael Davis, Eric Jungmann, Justin Urich, Aimee Brooks, and Todd Masters (Special FX Makeup). There is also some nice behind-the-scenes footage. The "Home Video Trailer" is full-frame and is 90-seconds long. The most unique feature here is the "Animated Trailer". This 2-minute 45-second trailer features animated versions of many of the key scenes in the film. It was used as a tool to help raise money to make the movie. There is an optional audio commentary from Davis for this trailer as he describes why it was made and how he did it. The extras are rounded out by a 4-minute "Gag Reel".
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©
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