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Canuxploitation!

Humongous

1982, Starring Janet Julian, David Wallace, Janit Baldwin, Joy Boushel, John Wildman, Layne Coleman. Directed by Paul Lynch.





Humongous may be much more obscure than Paul Lynch's earlier classic Prom Night, but it rises above the cookie-cutter slasher tale Lynch had previously churned outand thankfully lacked a seven-minute disco song. Humongous is an easily identified Canadian horror film that has similarities with films like Black Christmas.

In the 1950s, a woman is raped at a party on an island in Northern Ontario and her attacker is subsequently killed by dogs. Flash forward 30 years, with our group of teen heroes: the natural leader Eric and his girlfriend Sandy are partying up in cottage country. Along for the ride are Eric's nerdy sister Carla, his younger, mulletted brother Nick and Nick's slutty girlfriend Donna. They are cruising around on a boat one night when they see an older man struggling in the water beside his capsized craft. They rescue him, and he tells them about a nearby island where a strange old lady lives with lots of viscous dogs. Since it's late, the group decides to anchor the boat, and sleep until morning.

This doesn't happen quite as planned-- Nick gets drunk and, holding off the others with a shotgun, tries to drive the boat back to the cottage. After a struggle, Nick accidently explodes the boat (well, an obvious miniature of the boat), causing everybody to swim to the shore of the aforementioned spooky island.

When they reach land, they are distraught to find Carla is missing, and Burt has a broken leg. Nick goes off to find the old lady, hoping he doesn't run into any dogs. He needn't worry, because the vicious dogs have been severely reduced in numbers in fact there is only one. And despite this, the dog still manages to find Nick and chase him through the woods for a couple scenes. The dog gives up pursuit when it gets caught in a hunting trap. Nick escapes to the safety of the boathouse where he is subsequently killed by a, well, humongous creature.

The next morning, while Donna keeps Burt warm with her blueberry-stained breasts (don't ask), Eric and Sandy go off to see if they can find Nick or Carla. They make it to the main house, where they find a dog cage with only skeletal remains of the dogs left. In the adjoining boathouse they discover the rotting remains of... more animals. And Carla, who is not rotting, just happily sleeping in one of the boats. Together they go into the house to try and get some help. But the eerie mansion is as dead as the rest of the island.

Speaking of dead, back at the campsite on the beach, the monster kills the unprotected Donna and Burt after some point of view stalking scenes. By know, you should know what's going on. The rape at the beginning of the film resulted in the birth of some brain-damaged, deformed, humongous creature who is killing everything on the island for food.

Not to be left behind, our three heroes at the house figure this out when they find an abandon nursery, an old photo book, an old diary and an old lady skeleton. Sandy is piecing it all together when they hear strange noises coming from the basement. Eric goes down to find out what is going on, and they discover the creature's lair underneath the house-- a stinky basement with picture frames and a few half-eaten teenagers lying around.

They retreat back to the beach, where Eric and Sandy construct a makeshift spear and go back to get revenge for their friends. But when the shadowy creature emerges it is Eric who winds up as a human shish-kabob. Sandy escapes by pretending to admonish the creature like his mother apparently used to. Then it's up to Sandy and Carla to stop the madness and have some chance at escaping off the island.

For me, one of the weakest elements of Canadian B-films are the scores, especially in horror and action films. But not in this case although I tend to dislike synthesizer scores for being sterile, this one is actually pretty well done, creating suspense with a sparse, jangly sound. Plus it manages to avoid the requisite heavy metal (or disco) song at the end.

The biggest complaint I have read about this film is that you don't really see the creature at all in the movie. Sure you may have to strain to see some of the more dimly lit scenes, but Humongous purposely doesn't let you get a good look at the creature simply because this is not an American film! This creature is not a mass murderer like Freddy Kruger, nor is this film an alien invasion film where you have to wait 87 minutes to see the whole monster in the last few seconds. This creature has little to separate itself from the animals, and thus represents the unpredictable, beastly side of humans. We catch a bit of the deformed body and face now and again, but the creature is less important than is the survival of the teens. These dissensions from mainstream American genre films are what make movies like Humongous canuxploitation.

Humongous does not resort to a heavy-handed morality play, nor does it contain a sexual predator theme. Like Black Christmas, the promiscuous characters die, but so do the chaste ones. Having already eaten every living thing on the island, the creature is searching out the teens for food and does not discriminate between them. This makes Humongous much more surprising than typical American slasher fare as well as the one-by-one revenge motivated killings in Prom Night. And did I mention that there were no disco songs in this one?


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