Humongous ReviewJoe Shaffer
Note: This review is for the uncut remastered edition of the movie. Some versions released in the US are short five minutes and are so poorly lit that it detracts from the film. Just know that I'm not reviewing said murky release...
There is no greater monster than a human.
Consider Tom Rice, a enjoying a jubilant evening on a private island owned by the Parsons family. On this occasion, Tom has drunken himself randy and figures he'd like to do a little nasty business with the Parsons' celibate daughter, Ida. She rejects his initial advances, but Tom is not one to take no for an answer. Chasing her into the woods, he eventually tackles Ida and ravishes her. Meanwhile, Ida's dogs can sense a great disturbance. Riled by the attack, they break free from their pen, locate Tom Rice, and maul him to near-death. Ida orders her dogs to stand down, leaving Rice such a bloody mess that he begs his victim for aid. Rather than offer medical assistance, she bashes his skull in with a stone. Although Ida has survived the traumatizing event, she must bear the awful memory of it for all time, as Tom has impregnated her.
Decades pass, Ida's island falls into disrepair. Her son--now an immense, deformed savage who has had no contact with society--is running loose around her home, devouring anything moves. Little does he realize he's about to have some uninvited guests, as a group of shipwrecked twenty-somethings have appeared on his shoreline...
Although there seems to be a fair amount of subtle commentary on gender roles and societal expectations, Humongous is mostly an unabashed "midnight movie" that's more grounded in reality than most of its peers. Its antagonist is not a supernatural being, but a normal human who has gone wild thanks to his lack of social contact. The main entourage mostly consists of your standard '80s horror characters, save that they don't engage in outright hedonism quite as often as in most films. Rather, you get a slightly more human vibe from them. For instance, there's a character named Donna, who is the archetypal "sexually experienced" woman. Unlike in most drive-in movies, she's not the type to merely flaunt her goods and act like a sex-starved queen out to please every man who's remotely good looking. When being slut shamed early in the film, she gives a stern look of indignation. However, she remains in a relationship with the man who constantly insults her, with her motives for doing so only hinted at. Donna also shows a more compassionate side later on as she tends to the ailing Bert, a man found stranded at sea who takes ill shortly afterward.
The slight human touch is enough to give viewers a reason to care about most of the characters, but it's not so in depth that it takes up most of the movie's running time. Rather, the film dedicates most of its celluloid to building its creepy, nightmare-like atmosphere. Much of the island, especially the Parsons' home, stands covered in a thick blanket of darkness with carefully placed patches of light. The effect is reminiscent of noir films, except without myriad touches of gray. Skulking in Humongous's tenebrous pathways and passages is Ida Parsons's baby boy, now a hulking, hairy behemoth powerful enough to crush skulls and bearhug grown men to death. You don't see much of the man, but you always hear him snarling, stalking, panting like a beast.
When at last the antagonist does appear, there's always a jolt of terror. The characters dawdle for so long that they fail to realize he's in their vicinity until he has them cornered. Then all they can do is scream and succumb to his fury, and ultimately end up dangling on a meat hook in his cellar.
Humongous is not an assault on the senses. It's a slower, moodier movie with a somber soundtrack. Now and then the soft cry of a trumpet will sound, hearkening back to the music of the '40s (which is when Ida was raped). Mostly, though, the soundtrack settles on a mysterious '80s synth sound, but one that's not horribly plagued by awkward or obnoxious sound effects. Although Humongous's score doesn't compare to those written by the likes of Goblin or Keith Emerson, it manages to pack a creepy punch.
I could make a stink about acting, but one must bear in mind that Humongous is a B-movie, and not an Oscar effort. If there is one thing that hampers the film at all, though, it's the pacing. At times, Humongous moves so slowly that you might get antsy waiting for the next fright scene. It wouldn't be unreasonable to get comfortable, perhaps let your guard down, and then experience an even greater shock when Mr. Parsons arrives to make another kill.
I won't go so far as to say that Humongous is a great horror movie. It's an appreciable slow-burn flick with some fantastic atmosphere and a realistic villain. Most of all, the film reminds us that sometimes the most frightening foes are those who are the same species as the rest of us. Vampires are not real. Zombies are imaginary. But murderous, socially inept cannibals? They're at least plausible.
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