If you’re wondering why I haven’t been posting lately, it’s because I’ve been spending time over at my other blog Girls, Guns and Zombies where I’ve been re-posting all my posts from my other blogs in more concise formats as a way to better organize all the stuff I obsess over! In addition, I’ve been adding new posts about films, music, comics, etc, that I haven’t posted about on any of those other blogs, so check it out! Anyway, here’s yet another recycled post from the original incarnation on my latest blog …
Imagine if Russ Meyer‘s 1965 sexploitation classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! was mixed with one of B-movie auteur Roger Corman‘s 1950s creature feature quickies, like Monster From the Ocean Floor (1954). Well, here it is. El Monstro del Mar! (2010), written and directed by Stuart Simpson, is dripping with awesome retro coolness and badass grindhouse style. I love everything about this movie especially its reverence to Faster, Pussycat!. Three sexy vixens? Yes. Roadside murder? Yes. A wheelchair-bound old man? Uh-huh. A muscle-bound but dimwitted son, and a plot to rob the old man? Yep – I mean nope. But, we have a cute, innocent granddaughter and a giant tentacled monster!
The movie begins, in B&W, with our trio of sexy vixens, broken down, on the side of a desolate Australian road. Beretta (Nelli Scarlet) is the buxom Amazonian leader. Her friends are blonde bombshell Blondie (Karli Madden) and Bettie Page look-alike Snowball (Kate Watts). Soon, a pair of blokes stop and offer assistance. Bad move. The film changes to color as Snowball slashes one of the bloke’s throats, inside their broken-down car, and Blondie holds him down, letting him bleed out. The two grin with sardonic pleasure. Then, Beretta slashes the other’s throat, outside the car, letting him bleed out on the hood. She grins, too. They clean up, hop into the blokes’ vintage auto and drive off, as the opening credits roll over the raunchy riffs of Australian indie rockers The Stabs. Awesome!
So, the deadly trio decide to hole up in a small beachside village where Joseph (Norman Yemm), the wheelchair-bound old man, warns the ladies not to go into the water. Bad move. They don’t slash his throat, but, they do even worse. They don’t listen, and their contemptuous swim awakens a monster from the depths of the sea! Well, it hits snooze first. Meanwhile, adorably cute Hanna (Kyrie Capri), the innocent granddaughter, falls under the spell of our sexy thrill-seeking vixens. After a night of partying, filled with drugs, alcohol and sexual frustration, Hannah returns home, shamed, while Beretta and Blondie search for Snowball who passed out on the dock, the night before, but is now missing. They find her, battered, in a cave. She tells them the monster attacked her. “Make the fucker pay,” she demands of Beretta, before dying. An over-dramatic scream, from Beretta, follows. Later that night, Beretta and Blondie confront Joseph, with Hannah, and demand answers. But, they get more than they bargained for and, now, they must fight for their lives as the monster attacks Joseph’s house. In the end, Beretta, alone, hops into her vintage auto and drives off, into the night, as the ending credits roll over the raunchy riffs of Australian indie rockers The Stabs. Awesome!
The climactic battle with the monster is, surprisingly, very well done (considering the film’s low-budget), blood-soaked and exciting, especially when Hannah breaks out her grandfather’s double-barreled shotgun, blasting away, or when the monster tears Blondie’s head off, tossing it aside, much to Beretta’s dismay. The monster, whose tentacles have mouths filled with razor sharp teeth, is brought to life mostly by hand puppets, and that’s just fine. I hate CGI. Hate it. The scene where the wall breaks away, revealing the monster’s single giant eye peering into the house is pretty creepy, recalling the classic 1958 sci-fi film The Crawling Eye (aka The Trollenberg Terror). But, is it just me or does the monster’s giant vertical mouth at the door look like a huge vagina with teeth? Oh, and the shot, from the outside, of the Kraken-like monster laying seige to the house is cool in all its cheap miniature glory. However, looking at the creature as it engulfs the house, I have to wonder how the eye peering through the wall and the mouth at the door fit together on the monster, anatomically speaking. Anyway, the hands-on special effects work well with this film’s retro B-movie style, but I think more filmmakers should embrace low-budget creativity over bad CGI more often.
Nelli Scarlet, who stands six-feet-tall, is particularly awesome as lead vixen Beretta. She channels Tura Satana (who played lead vixen Varla in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) with her own badass flair, and won the Best Actress award for the role at the 2010 Melbourne Underground Film Festival. But, sexy Nelli Scarlet once was a fashion model, currently is a photographer, and is (or was) the lead singer of a cool Melbourne-based hard rock band called The Scarlets. She has released two excellent EPs to date with that band: Blow Your House Down (2010) and Bombshell (2011). However, an overview of The Scarlets is better suited to my other blog, Rock Chicks Rule! A post will be forthcoming.
Karli Madden, who plays Blondie, also has a role in director Stuart Simpson’s short, Acid Spiders, included as a bonus feature on the El Monstro del Mar! DVD. The 14-minute film features a fake all-girl punk band The UFO’s, with Madden as Mack on guitar, who take mind-altering acid at practice, and find themselves besieged by extraterrestrial spider creatures that spit flesh-melting acid. Yeah, it’s a fun, dumb little film. Kung-Fu, the drummer of The UFO’s, is played by Lizzie Dynon, who also happens to be the real drummer for Nelli Scarlet’s band The Scarlets.
El Monstro del Mar!‘s own gritty soundtrack is a big part of the film’s retro cool charm, especially the tracks used from Australian indie rockers The Stabs, whom I’ve already mentioned twice. They sound, to me, like Canada’s surfy instro rockers Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet meets the raunchy distorted guitars of Link Wray with vocals. “Never Going Home”, from their 2006 album Dirt, plays over the opening credits, while “Dead Wood”, from their 2009 album Dead Wood, plays over the closing credits. Cool band. Check ’em out.
Anyway, El Monstro del Mar! is a cool, stylish throwback to the exploitation films and creature features of the 1960s. But, this retro B-movie is not done tongue-in-cheek, it’s played straight, with respect, and I love every minute of it. Some reviews have said that the middle lags, but, I don’t think so. And, some reviews have pointed out that the three sexy vixens are unlikable. They are. So what? They’re thrill-seeking homicidal hellcats who killed, as far as we know, a half dozen men! The fact that they’re unlikable is, in fact, what makes them likable. What? Anyway, watch the trailers here:
El Monstro del Mar! (2010). Breaking Glass Pictures/Lost Art Films. Starring Nelli Scarlet, Kyrie Capri, Karli Madden, Kate Watts and Norman Yemm. Written and directed by Stuart Simpson. 74 minutes. Not Rated.
Note: Homicidal Hellcats would be a cool name for an all-female psychobilly band!