Inhumanwich! Review: All Empty Calories But It Feeds Your Need at the Moment
Starring Matt Laumann, Michael Peake, Jack Burrows, Kayla Clark, Jake Robinson
Written and directed by David Cornelius
If H.P. Lovecraft ever created a creature for the Upside Down version of McDonald’s, I suspect it would look a lot like the creeping, crawling, quivering mutated mound of man-eating meat with eyeballs and tentacles that is Inhumanwich!
Astronaut Joe Newman is an all-American hero, happily married, currently in orbit aboard the Argo-1. Oh, he also has an onion allergy that causes him to bloat up and get very lethargic. Not sure why I mentioned that. He’s not sure why he felt the need to mention it either. Still, good to know.
Joe’s wife makes a mean Sloppy Joe. Actual Joe is chowing down on the sandwich of the same name when the Argo-1 gets bombarded by a radioactive meteor shower. Capsule damaged. Cockpit contaminated. Joe screaming in agony, coated in a mix of radioactive waste and a completely fine Sloppy Joe gone to waste. His ship will come crashing down to Earth, where Joe Newman will emerge as the flesh-eating intergalactic terror with an “unsatiable” hunger we call Inhumanwich!
I must express a certain degree of disappointment that the title meat monster does not actually resemble the fanged Sloppy Joe sandwich presented on the artwork that lured me into renting this film like a siren’s song. I was truly expecting and anticipating a preposterous Troma-meets-Attack of the Killer Tomatoes monstrosity in the form of a toothy Manwich sandwich. What we actually get is a mutated mass of meat brought to life via a mix of practical effects with an occasional touch of digital work that looks like what you would wind up with if you mixed Meatwad from “Aqua Team Hunger Force.” The Blob, and The Creeping Terror in a b-movie blender. Can’t complain too much, though I would have loved to have seen the Sloppy Joe that bites back in action.
David Cornelius’ Inhumanwich! is the latest in the popular sub-genre of microbudget monster movies presented in black & white that pay loving homage to, while stylistically parodying, cheap drive-in creature features of the atomic age. The recipe for making an Inhumanwich! includes a pinch of Naked Gun-esque visual and verbal gags, a dash of familiar 1950’s monster movie tropes turned on their head and used as a pogo stick, a heaping helping of love and affection for these b-movies of yesteryear, and all of it is seasoned with the unmistakable taste of WTF-ness. What demented mind comes up with the idea for a 1950’s style creature feature about a meat monster that keeps growing as it absorbs more and more flesh and the only thing that may be able to save the world is a competitive eater with a bottomless stomach and a wounded soul?
As the sloppiest of Joes eats and expands, the brave, yet not altogether brightest men of the National Space Command in Dayton, Ohio, are on the case. Aided by a gruff general who keeps a framed photo of “Magnum P.I.” on his wall instead of the President and Joe’s loving wife, who gets far more distraught at the thought of her husband-turned-beef blob devouring an innocent dog than the multitude of human skeletons he has left in his sloppy wake, time is running out to find a means by which to beat their meat problem. Hey, didn’t Joe say something about an onion allergy?
Jokes range from running gags (scientist loses his legs to the monster and spends the rest of the film sitting around with skeletal limbs) to poking fun at genre tropes (over-written, matter-of-fact dialogue typical of these old films) to the outright ridiculous (a scientist who licks skeletons to identify the flavor of the thing that consumed their flesh).
Arguably, the most inspired joke is the old 1950’s chestnut of casting actors way too old to play teenagers. Here, the gag takes casting in the opposite direction with what looks like a pair of 13-year-olds seated behind the wheel of the Lover’s Lane car, only for their romantic interlude to be interrupted by something falling from the stars.
What’s that deafening inhuman wailing coming from the woods? Must be those damn raccoons again.
There’s even a hokey as hell musical number that gets interrupted by a hungry monster. The Creeping Terror and The Giant Gila Monster would be so delighted by their meaty cousin carrying on such a proud tradition.
A movie with a premise this absurd shouldn’t work at all. In the wrong hands it could have ended up a moronic, vulgar, gross-out comedy a la the vast majority of what passes for low-budget horror comedies these days. I didn’t love this one as much as I did I Was a Teenage Wereskunk from earlier this year, but the good-natured wit of the script and the undeniable enthusiasm of everyone involved make this a worthwhile throwback parody that should whet the appetite of fans of similar films such as The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra and the works of Christopher R. Mihm.
“You’re not some sort of man-eating monster. You’re Joe Newman, the man who wouldn’t let Tom Hanks molest me for less than $150 dollars.”