Reviewed by Patrick Cooper
Night of the Tentacles opens with a couple having doggy-style sex. Then some people masturbate and a dog licks up cum. This barrage of humorously explicit scenes sets the stage for a film whose aspirations reach no further than the toilet bowl. Written, directed, edited, and scored by Dustin Mills (Bath Salt Zombies), Night of the Tentacles is a low budget horror-comedy in the vein of Little Shop of Horrors and Basketcase only not nearly as effective. If you go into the film not expecting too much though, you might have a good time.
Dave (Brandon Salkil) is a lonely graphic artist who specializes in erotic horror art. When we first meet him he’s arguing with a client on the phone about the appropriate amount of gloss to add to alien semen. He walks around in pajama pants all day and eagerly waits for his pregnant neighbor Esther to get home from work so he can jerk off to the sounds of her performing the female equivalent. This ritual happens regularly until one day he has a heart attack. Turns out he’s got a bum ticker and he’s going to need a transplant. His freelance graphic artist insurance is pretty weak, so it looks like this is it for Dave.
Then Satan shows up and offers a deal to Dave: a new heart in exchange for his soul. Because this always sounds like a good idea to humans, Dave accepts. Satan leaves behind a small wooden chest with Dave’s new heart in it. I’ve been trying to come up with a way to describe Satan in the film and the best I’ve got is that he’s a fat version of the rabbit from Donnie Darko, with LED light eyes and no ears.
If the heart dies, so does Dave. The only problem is that the heart needs human flesh to survive and it speaks in a British accent (so it always sounds condescending). In order to stay alive and pursue his romantic interest in his neighbor Esther, Dave has to sacrifice his other neighbors. That’s not so bad at first, since they’re all pricks, but what happens when Dave runs out of neighbors?!
There’s no suspense or tension surrounding these kills. Dustin Mills goes for comedy and effects more than anything and it doesn’t always work. If you’re a fan of toilet and sex-related humor, however, then you’re in luck. Personally, that stuff is fun but it can wear thin very quickly (like it did in this film). Actor Brandon Salkil is respectable in this role, although he takes it unnecessarily over-the-top several times. Mills does allow some tender moments between Dave and Esther and there seems to be some attempt at making them developed characters, but any progress is cut short by cum or dick jokes.
The effects are decent and there’s a surprisingly low level of gore. Once it’s revealed, the heart-tentacle monster is awfully silly looking, but some of the kills are cool – in particular the first one involving Dave’s bitchy neighbor and her toilet. Overall, the film’s got a lot of heart even if it falls flat of its aspirations. It’s worth the rent.
Night of the Tentacles is presented 1.78:1 widescreen. It’s obviously a low budget film and sometimes that shines through in the transfer. The 2.0 audio track sounds all right, although it can get muddled when people scream.
COMMENTARY WITH DIRECTOR DUSTIN MILLS: This guy gives a pretty good commentary and he makes it interesting. He talks about casting off of CraigsList, why he changed the title, and, you know, masturbating.