Monsturd (2003)

Starring Paul Weiner, Beth West, Dan Burr, Brad Dosland, Dan West, Rick Popko

Directed by Rick Popko and Dan West

Monsturd is quite literally the shittiest monster movie of all time. However, it is anything but crappy. Now that I’ve gotten two bad puns out of the way I can move on with the review.

After escaping from prison, serial killer Jack Schmitt – infamous for killing people on the toilet and leaving messages scrawled on the bathroom wall that are bad puns along the lines of “DON’T GET CAUGHT WITH YOUR PANTS DOWN” – takes refuge in the sewers below Butte County’s peaceful suburbia. Meanwhile, an insane scientist that works for a research conglomerate called “Dutech” has developed a mutant strain of flesh-eating bacteria for no particular reason other than being insane. He decides to experiment by dumping a barrel of the stuff down into the sewers. Police find and pursue Schmitt, who ends up falling into a pool of the mad scientist’s chemical concoction. I assume you’re familiar Swamp Thing so you should know what happens next. Just substitute plant life with fecal matter and add the flesh-eating bacteria that can dissolve human flesh on contact, which is how the man-turd feeds.

Everyone thinks that Schmitt is dead, unaware that he has transformed himself into a half-man/half-feces monster that lurks in the sewers to pop out of toilets and devour hapless victims. While the mad scientist anoints himself master and protector of his monstrous creation, the local sheriff, two bumbling deputies, and the female FBI agent who originally captured Schmitt join forces to warn the disbelieving populace and destroy the killer crap creature before the town’s Annual Chili Cook-Off. Did I mention that they attempt to accomplish this while wearing diaper armor and carrying super soakers loaded with Pepto-Bismol?

Monsturd is without question the greatest movie that Troma never made. Fortunately, filmmakers Dan West and Rick Popko (who also play the dimwitted deputies) didn’t make some of the same mistakes that Troma tends to by making every aspect so far over the top from beginning to end and overloading it with obnoxious characters that feel compelled to constantly yell their lines. Monsturd is bold enough to play everything with a straight face, much like an old A.I.P. monster movie, so that when the goofy stuff happens it ends up being less abrasive than it would have been if everything were done in an in-your-face manner. Overall, the comedy here tends to be more amusing than outright funny although it definitely has its moments of inspiration.

You may be shocked to hear this, but despite a concept tailor made for some major league gross-out film Monsturd is not loaded with wall-to-wall gross-out gags or an endless stream of poop jokes. While it definitely has more than its fair share of those, the grossest being the world’s longest vomiting scene, most of the humor is a bit more subtle – and dare I say smarter – such as when a potential victim’s young daughter casually walks into the living room and tells her apathetic dad about the giant doo-doo that came out of the toilet and started saying bad words; or when someone tries to lure the mutated Mr. Hankey out of hiding by leaving a trail of cream corn on the ground while making fart noises as if it’s some sort of bird call; or when the deputies drive around the town with a bullhorn advising citizens not to use their toilets and then listing other means by which they should relieve themselves. Much of the humor comes from the way in which this insanity plays out in traditional 50’s monster movie fashion. While this does create a lull in the lunacy every now and then as certain clichéd scenes have to play out, it works to the film’s overall benefit in the end. One can only imagine what relentless, stomach churning crap Troma would have bombarded the audience with if they were responsible for this film.

As for the title monster itself, I’m happy to say that it’s a good, old fashioned, man in a rubber suit creature. It’s a disgusting looking pile of crap with arms and legs and a pointy head with bowel movements detailed all over it. It’s hardly a creation on the level of Stan Winston or Rick Baker but it’s still an extremely professional looking costume that would make Paul Blaisdell smile. He might gag at first but I suspect he’d smile afterwards. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought it looked sorta like what one of the Rock Men costumes from 1959’s Missile to the Moon would look like after someone took a flamethrower to it.

Oh, just as the mummy in the Stephen Sommers Mummy films was terrified of cats, the man-turd is deathly afraid of flies, or as it bemoans in a frightened Frankenstein-like voice, “Flies hurt the shit man! Flies eat the shit man!”

Watching Monsturd it’s hard to believe this movie was made for only $3,000 because it’s a very glossy, very professional looking production. Visually, it’s far more impressive than, say, The Blair Witch Project. Hell, this $3,000 shot-on-video movie looks better than most Troma and Full Moon productions that have had much larger budgets.

Now with all that said, the movie does have its fair share of shortcomings. For starters, Monsturd has bookends featuring a daughter telling her father the story of the movie and the film cuts back to them a few times along the way as she acts as the movie’s narrator. I really don’t think they were necessary, but at least the big punchline she delivers at the film’s end was pretty funny. There’s also a subplot about the widower sheriff and the hint of romance between him and the female FBI agent. This staple of lazy Hollywood screenwriting manages to fall flat even when the spoof film attempts to poke fun at the cliché. My biggest disappointment is that the build up to the final showdown with the bowel movement behemoth is about ten times longer than the actual battle. This short, abrupt, rather anti-climactic battle seems to have been a casualty of the movie’s miniscule budget.

Still, it’s impossible to not like a movie that features dialogue like “The shit man’s got me, Bobby!” and has a scene where a police sketch artist attempts to draw a detailed picture of the creature while casually asking the witness if they saw any nuts in it and, if so, could she describe what kind of nuts they were. And let’s not forget the ridiculous theme song entitled “Number Two: The Ballad of the Monsturd” that sounds like something Cybil Shepard would perform in her lounge act were she whacked out of her mind on painkillers at the time.

Monsturd doesn’t come close to reaching the level of such camp classics as Killer Klowns from Outer Space but as far as no budget horror comedies go, it’s still quite the fun little nugget of a film.

3 out of 5

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Jon Condit

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