Love In The Time Of Monsters - a review
Many things died in the 80's and 90's. One of those things was the sheer glee flimmakers had in crafting a schlocky story with very little money. Some did it well, like Student Bodies. Some missed the mark, like Return To Horror High. But the difference was that we weren't so consumed with the idea that everything had to be meta. This was the pre-Scream era of horror filmmaking. And it was just fun. So when a movie comes along like Bloody, Bloody Bible Camp or Love In The Time Of Monsters in the modern era my heart fills with a sort of joy reserved for the days of watching Night Of The Creeps. It's like an orgasm for my warped brain.
Love In The Time Of Monsters - directed by Matt Jackson and written by Mike Skvarla is a love letter to yesteryear. It follows some of the typical horror movie tropes we all expect to see - girls wearing next to nothing and running through the woods being chief among them. There's a very humorous moment that plays with that toward the end. It pays homage to films like Goonies, Return Of The Living Dead and Night Of The Creeps but never in a way that seems too obvious. There's no wink to the camera. There's no knowing nod that forces us to notice these things. And that is the film's strength. It truly does feel like a movie that could have been made in the 80's and only newly discovered today.
The story begins with two sisters on a family vacation where their father id accidentally killed by a falling ax from a Paul Bunyon statue. Since then the girls have avoided family vacations. We see the girls fifteen years later as they drive to a tourist attraction all about America owned by a Russian played by Mike McShane. There are moments during the first fifteen minutes that made me wonder if I was going to enjoy the film. The characters felt wooden and the story seemed like something lifted from Ski Patrol. But Kane Hodder and Doug Jones showed up quick enough and it seemed to really breathe some life into the film.
Hodder and his band of Bigfoot impersonators who work for the tourist trap quickly fall into the lake and become infected by something that turns them in flesh starved monsters. From this point on the pace seems tight and entertaining.
The Good - Kane Hodder, Mike McShane and Doug Jones are not just quick little walk on cameo moments. They are all a big part of the film. And they all seem to really enjoy themselves in the piece. Jones was especially fun as the incredibly intelligent scientist working at the tourist trap as an Abraham Lincoln impersonator because of the economy. It was nice to see Jones hired to do something more than put on a bunch of make up and appear unrecognizable throughout. Hodder even had his time acting rather than just running around and chasing people the whole time. And McShane is always fun in everything from the hypnotist in Office Space to his many years on the British version of Who's Line Is It Anyway?.
The script and the pacing were good. The direction was solid. The performances were exactly as you would expect from this type of film - attractive people screaming a lot. But that's what you want in this movie. It's usually not fair to judge these films on acting. I know from experience that directing someone to act bad, if done well, means that critics will complain about their acting.
The Bad - even by the standards of low budget movie monsters some of the infected effects were just downright bad. I couldn't decide if it was bad in charming way or bad way. So I will leave that up to the viewers.
Being a fan of movies like this my opinion may be a bit biased. But I'm only one man. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and would recommend it to any of my friends that enjoy the same type of movie. This isn't for everyone, not in the way that Human Centipede isn't for everyone, but it's got gore, practical effects, and a Playboy Playmate swallowing a squirrel. I'd watch it again in heartbeat.
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