Friday, November 5, 2010

Monster In The Closet: Built On Cliches

Ah yes; Monster in the Closet. If it weren’t for a Cinemassacre review of this movie, I would have never have found it. If it wasn’t for Netflix Instant I would probably have to buy it just to watch it, which would have been fine but I would like to have seen it before I bought it. The formula follows a news reporter (suspiciously named Dick Clark), who is assigned to report on a string of murders that all appear to have taken place inside people’s closets. However, we later find out that the murderer is actually a monster that uses closets and a means of transporting between different homes. Now, a scientist, a news reporter, a priest, a military general and a school teacher must try to find a way to stop it before it destroys the world! Sound familiar? It should. It’s every monster movie cliché all rolled into one glorious spoof of the genre.

There are several different conventions that this movie has that have been used so many times in the big monster movies of the 50s. Unlike most movie spoofs, this one is quite low budget and has a list of veteran actors to make it all the more entertaining.

THE MONSTER
The film has a monster and like the old b-movies he is a guy in a rubber suite rather than stop motion. The creature effects are actually really good in this case and the monster looks and sounds like a real monster rather than a giant reptile or insect. Also, like most b-movie monsters it moves very slowly and yet people somehow get killed by it. Many people wonder why everybody in the world right away believes the end of the world is coming because of one slow-moving monster but think about it… in b-movies, everybody overreacts to a monster that is obviously not that big of a threat.

THE SCIENTISTWhat monster movie wouldn’t be complete without a scientist? And just like all the movie scientists, Dr. Pennyworth doesn’t want the military to kill but rather stun it so that he could perform tests to learn from it. Like most clichés he is passive, liberal and will boldly try to communicate with it even though the monster is obviously hostage. He repeats himself all the time; most notably his childhood frog story and he bares a striking resemblance to Albert Einstein. He is the textbook scientist character arc.

THE MILITARYAs such, the military tries to intervene with things so that they could kill the monster. Just like the military in every b-movie, they see the monster as a threat to the public and worst of all… they see it as such a threatening force that it could destroy the world! Hell, they try to blow it to smithereens but fail because they can’t hit a target worth shit. Little do they know, like most campy monsters, the bullets are ineffective and hardly put a scratch on them… but does that stop them? No! The General in charge of the army is also your typical hardass.

THE DAMSEL IN DISTRESS
Throughout the movie, the teacher just goes all ‘weak in the knees’ when Dick Clark takes his glasses off, and it sets up for the fact that he a stunning person when you put aside his geekiness. Ironically, he ends up being the damsel in distress. The monster takes one look at him without his glasses and immediately falls in love with him. He faints and the monster picks him up and hauls him off to the only closet in San Francisco that hasn’t been destroyed. As he is being carried off, it reminded me of Creature From The Black Lagoon. Like most people assumed, the monster is either a female or it’s gay and I like the sudden change in conventions. The damsel in distress is a guy and there is a chance that the monster is female.

These are just some of the clichés that were used. If you want to get technical there are many more like the montage of people fleeing the city, the use of stock military footage, spinning newspaper cuts, the fact that a school teacher and a reporter can build an electrical killing device, the fact that nobody listens to the kid, Alien and Thing From Another World, Godzilla and War of the Worlds references. They are all in there. Give this movie a chance and try to see if you can spot all the monster/sci-fi references. Honestly, this is one of the best Troma released videos that I have seen.

Photos courtesy of Bad Movies and Lost Highway.

5 comments:

The Film Connoisseur said...

Damn, Id love to see it but Netflix only has it in the instant play thing, and I cant use it. I wish they had the dvd available, it looks like fun! I wonder why this movie doesnt get talked about more often?

Mr. Johnny Sandman said...

I think it's one DVD, otherwise you can check Troma Video online. It probably doesn't get much attention because it slipped under the radar. Not many Troma distributed movies get the limelight.

David said...

I absolutely love this movie! I'm going to watch it again!

Anonymous said...

If you study the movie more, the monster is gay and this makes it coming out of the closet a joke. There are a lot of hidden gay jokes at the end of the movie.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah...you can watch the movie for free on hulu.com and maybe youtube too. Most of the free movies on hulu are also free on youtube if you search for them.

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