Tuesday, 29 January 2013

New monsters

Monster movies used to be taken seriously, whether creature antagonists were oversized beasts, farfetched chimeras, or weird fantasy chosen from legend to menace the present day. Even in comedy–action treatments of the subgenre, like Tremors, there may well be a strong element of disgust (such as body horror). 

One way to almost certainly ensure grimly sombre reactions from viewers is to put children in peril, but Irish flick Grabbers fails to strengthen its appeal with any coldly fiendish moments. It succumbs to complete irreverence and plays out as a pub night siege, with a bunch of stereotypically characters pitted against a Lovecraftian yet frivolously weak invader.

Directed by Jon Wright (Tormented), its efficiently cartoonish presentation means there is no overt sense of dread, in spite of some grotesque imagery for the aliens. Grabbers can be fun, if watched as lightweight cross–genre fare, but it remains only modestly successful as a throwaway monsterama sitcom; something like Father Ted meets Slither.
Nowadays, of course, slithering up from the downmarket regions of parodic threats to humankind, an overabundance of straight absurdity has emerged, and the trend for silly mutant hybrids like Sharktopus continues in Jim Wynorski’s utterly farcical Piranhaconda

This is a tepid actioner, where a crew making a tacky horror movie on location in Hawaii are violently interrupted by a ‘real’ terror: part snake, part fish, all CGI. There is a pair of them and they do not get along. Gangsters act out a routine kidnapping sideshow to keep guest star Michael Madsen amused, so his heroic professor won’t simply collect his paycheque and wander off, muttering about a regrettable downturn for his career in genre pictures. 

Of course, this is not actually a ‘proper’ movie; it is just the punch–line for a childish joke: what is huge, and yellow and black, and swallows human prey whole - leaving only a red mist of arterial spray? It is a fairly typical example of the low–budget art of trash movies, today, and simply an accessory (and could or should be a free gift), when you buy beer and popcorn.

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