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Friday, September 20, 2019

Monster Island (2004)




This is the second movie named Monster Island that I’ve watched recently. That movie was God awful and made me question why I do this to myself. This one has a much better cast and also has a cheesy vibe that I was digging on. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This movie, made for MTV, has a high school senior winning a party at a tropical island for his entire class. He didn’t sign up for it, his little sister did. Our hero is a bit of a sad sack that was recently dumped by his girlfriend, Maddy, who is of course at the party with her new boyfriend. We also get appearances by Carmen Electra and Nick Carter as themselves, because of course celebrities used to show up for MTV stuff. Oh yeah there is also a camera crew because this is all being shot to air on the channel.

Here is where things get weird. The island is in the Bermuda Triangle and is also home to a secret military base! Though the only person alive there is Dr. Harryhausen (yes they do have stop motion monsters so I’ll give this a pass), played by the always awesome Adam West. They were doing experiments and other science stuff when the insects on the island mutated and grew to enormous sizes. This is important because a giant ant carries Carmen Electra off and it is up to the kids to rescue her. Toss in a random merman, more giant bugs, and some locals who are enslaved by ants for more fun.

Rubber suit.. I'm in!
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. It is clearly just an homage to the old school fifties flicks that I review here at the website, but it is done very well. From the cheese ball giant rubber monsters to the stop motion effects the filmmakers get it. They avoid the bad CGI that was the norm when this was made which is nice. If that isn’t enough to put a smile on your face, we do get a bit of old school green screen fun. Monster Island feels like a silly horror movie from the fifties, which I believe was the point.

The writing and direction are also surprisingly good. Make no mistake this is a goofy flick, but there was clearly love for the genre as well as some effort put behind it. The dialogue is funny with Adam West having a couple great lines. The story is linear but enjoyable and the action is kept moving at a brisk pace. They know what we expect, and they waste no time giving it to us. Not everything has to be art, but everything should at least be fun. This movie is fun.

Where I thought this one would lose me was with the cast and the casting of people like Electra and Carter. I was already too old to give a crap about them when this was new and I’m even older now. While Carter is barely in the movie and is reduced to a cameo, Electra has a decent sized part and isn’t too bad. The kids, who we spend most of our time with, are all decent and shockingly not at all annoying. The highlight for me was Maddy, who was played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. She does a very fantastic job and you can see the talent that would be show in her later roles.

Giant monsters, characters that I didn’t hate, and a quickly paced story all make for an entertaining way to kill ninety minutes. You can find this one streaming for free on various services (I watched it on Amazon Prime) and it is worth checking out. I recommend it.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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