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Featured Post - Mystery Movie Marathon

I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, April 29, 2019

Swarm of the Snakehead (2006)

If you have spent any time reading my reviews here at the Horror Dude Blog, you will have discovered that I love bad movies. Swarm of the Snakehead isn’t a good movie, but is it entertainingly bad? That I guess is the question.

A father relocates his three girls to his hometown after a nasty divorce. After meeting up with some of the local characters they start to make friends. He connects with an old girlfriend and his oldest daughter starts to hang out with the mayor’s son. Things go sideways quickly when some killer mutant fish come crawling out of the water and start to eat everyone in sight. That is a real mood killer!

Along for the ride is Mayor Janice, who refuses to stop the fishing contest that the town needs to keep local business open. Even after she knows that something is out there killing people. If Jaws has taught us anything it is that you can’t trust the mayor in a situation like this. We also get the “celebrity” guest for the fishing contest, Darrel “the Manly Fisherman” Delhey. He quickly decides to capture one of the fish to make himself famous and inspired a new television show. You know it can’t end well for either of them.

There are a lot of things wrong with Swarm of the Snakehead. Many of the attempts at humor miss the mark and come off as dumb rather than funny. There are a few really funny jokes that I enjoyed but they are in the minority. We also get stretches of the movie where there aren’t any killer fish and no jokes are attempted. This I guess is supposed to be character development but comes off awkward and kills the pacing. There is also some terrible CGI (even for a low budget horror flick from the mid two thousands). This is especially noticeable when they have the large swarm on screen. It appears that they only had a couple of models so when they move about half of them have the same exact motion while the others are still. I wanted better than this.

I loved the practical work
I did enjoy it when they used puppets. Some of the extras are clearly holding them up to their necks during the “attack” sequences. To me that is part of the fun. Plus, the sculpt and work they did on the latex creatures looks really nice. Not sure how many that they made but there are scenes with at least ten of them. Using sound effects, they also manage to give some personality to them as they sort of laugh and react to the human actors. This is when the movie is at its best and I wish we would have had more of this.

I can’t recommend Swarm of the Snakehead to everyone. I had fun, but I was in the mood for something silly and dumb. You have to be a fan of bad movies to enjoy a flick like this.

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

Friday, April 26, 2019

Monster from Green Hell (1959)

Time to continue the Friday tradition here at Crappy Movie Reviews and hit you guys up with another Fab Fifties movie review. This time around I decided to cover another entry into the giant bug subgenre with Monster from Green Hell. We have already had a giant mantis and giant ants so why not giant wasps?

Things kick off with a matte painting of a rocket base. The action moves inside, and we see science guys doing science stuff. Here that means shooting animals into space so that they can be exposed to cosmic radiation for forty seconds. One of the rockets gets away from them and ends up in the radiation for forty minutes. It crashes into the Congo and the scientists move on. Six months later they hear stories about monsters terrorizing the natives and decide to check it out. That means landing in Africa and walking a long way. A very long way… Eventually they find and destroy giant wasps.

The movie starts off with a bang and I don’t mean a rocket crashing in the jungle. We get some shots of the giant wasp attacking within ten minutes of the movie starting. Then everything comes grinding to a halt. Nothing happens for most of the next forty minutes as our scientists decide that they need to walk halfway across Africa to get to the jungle! We get natives attacking, elephant stampedes, poisoned water holes, and a desert crossing that has them running out of water. What the heck is this doing in my monster movie?

I actually have a good answer to the above question. Reused footage and lots of it. They “borrowed” tons of footage from a movie made twenty years earlier, Stanley and Livingstone, to establish the setting and provide the “action” sequences. They do make an effort to do this as seamlessly as possible, including dressing the lead of this movie, Jim Davis, in a conspicuously absurd costume so the new footage matches. This is why much of the movie feels like a strange adventure flick, because it is one! I do a bone to pick with how they connect the new and old scenes together. It is all done with a voice over as our lead is telling us what happens over the new footage. This is lazy and annoying.

I do like the creature(s)
Things pick up again towards the end when they finally reach their destination, and this again becomes a monster movie. We get giant wasp heads menacing the cast and some fun stop motion tossed in as well. There is even a fight between a wasp and a giant snake, so that is cool. Overall the creature work is decent and would fit right in with most of the “B” movies from the decade in both quality and quantity, though this only counts for the new footage. Because of the middle being a totally different story I didn’t get nearly enough creature fun.

I wished they had cut the reused footage out and found a way to stretch the rest of the story to make it a full-length movie. As it stands currently this feels like a half-realized concept that gets bogged down with the nonsense of an “epic” journey across Africa. This is not what I signed up for when I sat down to watch Monster from Green Hell. I can’t recommend the movie but will say if you love the giant bug genre then one watch is probably okay. Just be prepared with some caffeine to get you thru the middle.

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer