Bad Movies Beware!
Anyone else a Godzilla fan?
I was a huge Godzilla fan when I was a kid. I’ve watched so many of the films I can’t even remember which ones anymore. They all kind of started to blend together after the thousandth time watching them.
My poor mother.
Then there were the copycats. Let’s face facts, people: if a franchise is successful, there will be copycats. Case in point: Halloween was a huge success in 1978. Sean S. Cunningham decided to rip it off completely with Friday the 13th, and unwittingly launched the largest franchise in the genre. Don’t misunderstand, I am a MAJOR Friday the 13th fanboy, but facts are facts.
Then there was Gorgo, the British Godzilla. Same basic premise, but he attacks London. The centerpiece: Gorgo takes down Big Ben. Not a fantastic film by any stretch, but I enjoyed it.
Then we get this colossal donkey turd out of Denmark. Reptilicus is, indeed, yet another Godzilla rip. But this one goes in a different direction with a few of the same basic ideas: science is clumsy, nature is a b***h, and all the military knows how to do is blow s**t up, even when it just makes things worse.
Until it doesn’t. Michael Bay logic even in 1961.
The film opens with a narrator, which we all know is a pet-peeve of mine, but he doesn’t hang around the entire time. Not nearly as bad as The Beast of Yucca Flats, which may not be saying much anyway.
Sven, a local miner, unearths a whole lot of blood and meat during a dig. He has a few experts come in from Denmark. They uncover what looks like a tail and take it back to Denmark for study under Dr. Martens.
Martens’s partner, Dr. Dalby, claims never to have seen bones like Sven uncovered before. They also notice that the specimen is regenerating, and Martens brings up the point that some creatures can grow back lost appendages, and some reptiles’ appendages actually regenerate a whole new reptile.
Enter Martens’s daughters, Lise and Karen. Martens explains to them that Sven is coming to consult on his find and will also be joined by General Mark Grayson. First question: “Oh, Father! Is he handsome?”
Watching these two fawn over Grayson and Sven is comical. I mean, I was no slouch when I was younger. In fact, I was damn sexy. When I was a senior in high school, freshmen girls chased me all over the place. These two take it to the next level, and it’s nauseatingly hilarious. Especially when they bicker over the attention of the two men before settling on one for each. What, you want both? They don’t even know these guys!
If these two were an ice cream, they’d be called a “Slutty Buddy.”
Dalby works overnight and passes out on the desk after leaving the freezer door open. The tail, it turns out, is alive and starts to move. Martens locks it up in a larger container so they can watch it grow, and they hire a security man, Peterson, to come in and watch the place at night.
Guy looks like Jethro Bodine.
Feel secure yet?
Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a monster flick without a s**tload of exposition and scientific whatnot, and Martens dubs the species “Reptilicus” during the course of this montage of yawn moments. We also get taken on a tour of Denmark with Connie Miller, a new female scientist who has taken a job under Martens. She and Grayson take in the sights while Martens deals with the science community and Sven broods.
Bring in the cliché “Dark and Stormy Night!”
Reptilicus starts moving around and trying to break loose. Dalby tries to contain it while Peterson runs out to get the police. Reptilicus breaks out of the building, crushes Dalby, and escapes.
The next day Grayson begins preparing for combat. Cue another montage, this time of the military coming in and setting up occupation to take down Reptilicus.
Reptilicus is spotted out in the countryside and attacks a farm in what must be the scene with the most “special” special effects I’ve seen since 1313 Cougar Cult.
It’s so painfully obvious that miniatures are being used, which can usually give a monster movie some charm.
Not this pile of egregious doggy-doo.
Reptilicus runs to the ocean, and Grayson sends his troops after. They bomb Reptilicus in hopes of blowing him to pieces, but Martens warns that Reptilicus regenerated from a tail. “Blowing it to thousands of pieces” could result in thousands of monsters.
Grayson admits that he is limited to blowing things up. The idea of tranquilizing Reptilicus and burning him later comes up, and they fill a bazooka round with enough tranquilizer to kill an army of elephants.
Reptilicus attacks the city, and Grayson takes his dramatic stand against the creature. He aims and fires…what the f**k…?
That’s the sound the launcher makes. A loud clicking sound like a deadbolt being locked. What, you were too low budget to even swipe an already over-used sound byte? Really?
Reptilicus passes out like a drunk at a bar during Spring Break, the characters have a moment, and the camera cuts to the ocean floor to where a piece of Reptilicus was blown off. The piece begins to move and walk towards the shore.
No. Thank God.
VERDICT: Like the clap, but worse.
I compare watching this movie to getting the news that the really pretty girl you finally got to do the deed with has vaginal dentata.
Reptilicus is actually two VERY different films. The original was shot in Danish and actually has a cult following in Denmark. There are a lot of differences between the two, though good luck watching the original if you don’t speak Danish.
Sidney W. Pink took the original script, translated it, and called back the actors to shoot the same movie in English. Bodil Miller had to be replaced by Marla Behrens for the roll of Connie Miller because she spoke absolutely NO English whatsoever.
American International Pictures dubbed the movie “unreleasable” and had the original screenwriter, Ib Melchior, rewrite and cut it for a final release. There was also a complete recasting for dubbed dialogue for every character in the film. There was a legal dispute, but it was dropped after Pink viewed the movie.
Let’s be real: I haven’t seen the Danish version. I’m sure it’s endearing. But the one we got is a pile of corn the size of scones in an elephant’s s**t pile. The acting on the part of the voice actors is nightmarish, with many times where the actor got careless, and the dialogue just doesn’t line up with what the characters on screen are doing or feeling at the point in time. There are even moments where the voice actors are trying to hard to keep things synced with the lips on the actors in the film.
The audio is funny as hell, though. Reptilicus’s roar sounds like a motorcycle revving up, and explosions are canned in the better scenes. The final “CLICK!” of the bazooka firing the tranquilizer rocket into Reptilicus’s mouth is just plain laziness on the part of the studio. Stock explosion sounds are a dime a dozen, even in 1961.
The special effects are, again, “SPECIAL.” Miniatures are used for the creature effects when things are being shot from a distance, and the puppetry for Reptilicus doesn’t amount to much more than some dude with a hand-puppet going “Grr…argh…” I wonder if the cartoonish overlay used for his acid spit and the farmer being eaten was added in for the American version, though. Might ask Jeroen from Horrible Reviews if he’s seen it (He said no).
Check him out, by the way. He’s good at what he does!
Reptilicus, at least the American version, is still an unwatchable mess. It takes the a-typical Monster Movie Formula and overdoes way too many elements to take seriously. I’m not going to say that it’s a crime on the level of what was done to Ganja and Hess, but they could’ve at least left well enough alone and just done subtitles. But, it DOES stick to formula nonetheless, so I’m giving it five out of six Piles of S**t. At least they got something kind of in the same vein as “right.”