Monster Man (2003)
By: Dr. Obrero on April 15, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Magna Pacific (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 91 minutes
The Movie
Director: Michael Davis
Starring: Eric Jungmann, Justin Urich, Aimee Brooks, Michael Bailey Smith
Screenplay: Michael Davis
Music:John Coda
Tagline:On this highway, the roadkill is human!
Country: USA
On this highway, the roadkill is human! So goes the tagline for Monster Man, an entertaining hybrid of similar and often better movies such as the excellent Jeepers Creepers, Wrong Turn, Joy Ride and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – one might say a patchwork quilt of hillbilly highlights! Yet, whilst this is clearly as unoriginal as they come, and to all intents and purposes should be just another awful rip-off genre flick, writer-director Michael Davis has crafted one of the most enjoyable low-budget horror films in some time.

Film opens with Anal-retentive college student Adam (Eric Jungmann) driving along desolate I-55 when a masked figure attacks him from the back seat, only for the assailant to reveal himself as former college friend Harley (Justin Urich) in playful mood. Transpires that Adam is on the way to attend a wedding, hoping to tell the bride-to-be of his unrequieted love (lust?) for her before it is too late. As the journey unfolds, Harley switches from antagonising Adam to unleashing a barrage of insults at the locals, something we just know is a dumb move – confirmed when a sinister monster truck that gives new meaning to the name begins to pursue them. Things take a turn for the worse when it becomes clear that the deformed creature inside the truck has very specific plans for the students, and a terrier-like demeanour. So, while things briefly look up when they pick up Sarah (Aimee Brooks), a sexy young hitchhiker, the course of young lust doesn't always run smoothly and in no time the guano hits the air conditioning…

Monster Man is an amiable, amusing slice of backwoods grand guignol. Director Michael Davis helms with no little skill, and he could be a name to watch and the cast is quite competent, particularly Aimee Brooks who exudes sexy and smart. The film is crisply written, at least until the weak finale, and clips along at a decent pace, boasting some nicely done Todd Masters FX and makeup along the way.
This DVD preserves the film's 1:85:1 theatrical aspect ratio with a superior anamorphic transfer. Despite some annoying edge enhancement, I was impressed with this transfer, which offers a reasonable level of detail, even in the darker scenes, good colour fidelity nicely capturing the golden hues of rural Americana, impressive brightness and contrast levels, and naturalistic fleshtones. There is the occasional speck and a bit of dust visible, but overall the image is crisp and clear. Excellent.
The DVD offers a DD 5.1 track which is excellent, providing clear dialogue, sound effects delivered with considerable punch across a broad front soundstage, but I felt lacking in surround effects. There is also a 2.0 stereo option.
Extra Features
Baloney, there isn't a genuine supplemental feature of note to be found here. The box thoughtfully signposts the "Feature" – that's good for those who might buy a DVD whilst being unsure if it actually has a feature on it, but not much help for the rest of us – i.e. those with a brain. We're also promised 'Scene Selection' – wow, thanks Magna Pacific. Finally, there's a trailer for the feature, remember that? The very same 'feature' that Magna Pacific kindly ensure we knew was on the disc via their packaging. It's a decent enough trailer.

When comparing the Region 4 disc to its US Region 1 counterpart, it become apparent what down under audiences are missing out on. The Region 1 Lions Gate's DVD offers a commentary track with Jungmann, Urich and Davis which reveals production secrets, trivia and behind-the-scenes anecdotes. There's also an EPK -- your standard puff piece that does manage to explore all sides of the production, including makeup FX and the truck itself, as well as a clever animated trailer created by Davis (a former storyboard artist) to help raise financing, as well as a quartet of trailers for Lions Gate releases and a video trailer for Monster Man. All are presented in 2.0 stereo. You also have the option of Spanish or English subtitles, and a blooper reel.
The Verdict
This is a cracking little film, a slice of rural gothic shot through with humour and suffused with a nice line in black humour. Magna Pacific's DVD offers a decent presentation, but the extras present on the Region 1 disc appear to've dropped off somewhere over the Pacific, which makes this disc very much a poor relation to it's better stuffed American counterpart.
Movie Score
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