Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Munchies (1987)

Gremlins. What a modern classic, eh. You can tell that it's a modern classic thanks to a number of things. There are all of the positive reviews to read. There are the many fond memories you can hear from people who first saw the film in their early teens. And there are the numerous films that came along afterwards and tried to copy the formula. Films like Critters, Ghoulies, Hobgoblins and Beasties (which is about as rare as a very rare thing indeed). Oh, and Munchies. Munchies isn't really the worst offender, but it feels like it. The creatures all have slightly crazy personalities, supposedly amusing voices and they multiply when they get themselves chopped up.

Harvey Korman gets to embarrass himself not once, but twice, taking on the dual roles of the decent Simon Watterman, a man who discovers the first "munchie", and his twin brother, the dastardly Cecil. Cecil causes problems, of course, when he finds out that something is happening that could be good news for his brother so he comes up with a plan which leads to some chaos and destruction. Simon's son, Paul (Charlie Stratton), and his girlfriend, Cindy (Nadine Van der Velde), end up trying their hardest to fix everything, but it will be easier said than done when the munchies start causing havoc.

There are times when I look at a movie review or plot description that I'm writing and I just struggle to get everything as I want it. Those times often see my just staring at a blank screen or page for a while until inspiration strikes and I can put things across in the best way possible. This isn't one of those times. I just looked over the above description and decided that while it wasn't perfect it would do. And that's exactly what the makers of this film must have been thinking while filming every scene.

It's not an absolutely terrible film, it's just an absolutely slapdash film. A film in which every corner has been cut and little thought has been given to actually making it all more fun. Tina Hirsch directs with the emphasis on forward momentum and a sense of fun, as opposed to anything requiring any attention to detail or logic, and the script by Lance Smith is a heap of nonsense. Thankfully, I quite enjoy nonsense now and again (as people familiar with my taste may already know) and so I enjoyed this a little bit more than most people would.

The acting from all involved isn't as bad as you might expect it to be. Harvey Korman is always fun, to some degree, and his performance as Cecil is amusingly over the top. Charlie Stratton and Nadine Van der Velde are both okay, but a bit bland. Charlie Phillips and Hardy Rawls ham things up as, respectively, Eddie and Big Ed, two law enforcement officials thrown into the middle of the situation. Alix Elias is quite funny, even if I kept wondering how Carol Kane would have done with the role, and it's always good to see Robert Picardo pop up in a very small role. The worst acting actually comes from the puppets, who never look convincing in the slightest and then make everything worse with the many attempts at funny one-liners (the biggest problem = they're just not funny).

Made on a small budget, this absolutely revels in its cheapness. Fans of schlock will find some minor entertainment value, as I did, but everyone else will find thousands of worthier films to prioritise ahead of this.



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