Humongous

DVD Review

Made during the peak years of the Canadian tax-shelter film era, Humongous has languished in VHS and convention bootleg obscurity over the last three decades, carrying the unfortunate stigma of having a really dark, murky picture. The Scorpion Releasing DVD – the first “official” release in the US, with a remastered picture – presents the exact opposite problem: it’s too bright. So bright, in fact, that it has some J.J. Abrams lens-flare going on in a few scenes and what looks like visible lighting equipment in others. This leads me to believe that Paul Lynch just has no idea what he’s doing when it comes to lighting a set. The actual content of Humongous – and Prom Night – points out two other things about the director; namely that he has a knack for picking out really boring material – coincidentally, both of the aforementioned films were written by William Gray – and has almost no style.

After a brief intro with a rapist getting mauled by dogs and beaten with a large rock, Humongous introduces a familiar – and bland – group of kids, including two brothers and their sister, heading out for a weekend boat trip. After picking up a guy drifting out in the water, the boat erupts in flames – courtesy of the only asshole character of the bunch, who also shoots a gun off next to brothers head for shits and giggles, and is deservedly the first one killed – prompting the friends to swim toward Dog Island. As the kids try to regroup and strategize a way to reach the mainland, a “humongous” man starts picking them off.

And by picking them off, I mean he kills them off-screen for the most part, which is a shame considering the premise – and poster art! – is so promising. Like Prom Night, Humongous is built upon the slasher genome, but ventures off into other territory; once they get to the island, it becomes more of a survival flick (finding food, staying warm, finding shelter, etc.) than a ten-little-Indians sort of deal. Giving credit where credit is due, there is some really random, zany stuff that gives it some personality, like the gun fiasco or when a character picks some berries, brings them back to camp between her breasts, and then has to wash the juice off – it doesn’t get more hilariously inane than that. There’s also – thankfully – not a disco scene in sight.

Once the characters piece together the back story and things finally get going after almost an hour, Gray’s script “pays homage” to Friday The 13th Pt. II while giving us a few glimpses of the killer (but never a solid view), whose appearance clumsily changes from just a guy without a mask shrouded in darkness to a cross between Jason and Madman Marz from Madman. Maybe if Humongous did something more unique during its exploration and survival scenes, it would stand out more, but it just seems to drag on and on without any cool kills, memorable characters/dialogue, or really anything more interesting than a berry cleavage basket.

Special Features

Commentary – Moderated by Katrina Waters, the track features director Paul Lynch, writer William Gray, and horror journalist Nathanial Thompson. Waters reminds you that she’s still there occasionally, but it’s mostly the trio discussing the history of the film, including the rape scene, the vintage credit sequence, casting, and the like. Lynch and Gray pick on each other a lot, making for a fun listen, and they do point out the Texas Chainsaw Massacre influence on Humongous, as well as some Psycho nods, the Prom Night remake, and their distaste for the poster – which I like, but I understand why they hate it. Truth be told, the commentary is much better than the film itself.

Alternate Pre-Credit Sequence (6:35) – Since the version of Humongous on the DVD is uncut, this is an edited, R-rated version of the opening rape sequence. It isn’t really wild and out-of-control (like, say, Irreversible) in either form, but rape is an ugly thing, and the film probably got submitted to the MPAA on a bad day; the gore from the dog attack seems to have been cut down ever so slightly, too. The video quality here is not nearly as good as it is in the actual film, and it really isn’t worth watching to begin with.

 

Official Score