Man-Thing (2005)
By: J.R. McNamara on September 16. 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Force Entertainment (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. 92 minutes
The Movie
Director: Brett Leonard
Starring: Mathew Le Nevez, Rachel Taylor, Jack Thompson, Patrick Thompson
Screenplay: Hans Rodionoff
Country: USA
In the early sixties, Marvel had started the foundations of their massive superhero community on a few monster titles written and drawn by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby: Journey into Mystery, Astonishing Tales and others like it. After the birth of the Hulk and the Fantastic Four, Marvel drifted away from monster titles until, in the early seventies, it noticed a slant back towards monster comics from other publishers, particularly Warren, who published Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. During the resurgence, which also brought about characters such as Tigra the Were-Woman and Brother Voodoo, not to mention Blade in Tomb of Dracula, Man Thing debuted in Savage Tales, a black and white magazine styled comic aimed at an older audience. The comic only lasted one issue, but Man Thing made such an impact that he returned in several other titles until he received his own short lived comic, which at one point had the porno sounding title Giant Sized Man Thing. Man Thing is rarely out of the Marvel fan's line of sight for long, and has remained a favourite for a long time. Still, it was a surprise when Marvel announced that one of the films to be released in its movie line up would be one based on this character.

A new Sheriff, Kyle Williams (Matthew Le Nevez) has arrived in the swamp town of Bywater. His first day on the job finds him with a dead body of a local teen in the coroner's office and the local conservation group, including 3rd grade teacher Teri Elizabeth Richards (Rachel Taylor) trying to stop oil tycoon Frederick Schist (Jack Thompson) and his son Jake (Pat Thompson) from extending their business throughout the swamplands, purchased by him from the local Seminole Indian tribes. Throw in monster hunter Mike Ploog (Robert Mammone) and local rogue Rene LaRoque (Steve Bastoni), unexplained disappearances and a mysterious Lovecraftian creature that roams the swamp and you have a ridiculous amount of fun and dumb horror on your hands.

Directed by Brett Leonard (The Dead Pit) and written by Hans Rodionoff (Sucker: The Vampire) from characters created by Steve Gerber (responsible for many of Marvels more offbeat characters like Howard the Duck, Doctor Bong and Simon Garth: the Zombie), Man Thing is a B grade horror that mixes the weirdo monster movies of the fifties and sixties with the body count of the late seventies/ early eighties. Man Thing was originally to be a direct to video release, and any ideas to release it to cinemas were abandoned after half a test audience walked out before the movie even finished. The film eventually debuted on the Sci Fi Network in the USA before its DVD release. This film was also the first to be produced at the studios at Kurnell, NSW, using the Shell Oil Refinery and surrounding mangroves as main exterior locations after the deal for it to be produced in New Orleans fell through due to budget restrictions.

This film is full of all the usual stereotypes this sort of movie thrives on: topless hotties, Redneck philosophy, an Indian shaman, a new, greenhorn Sheriff, evil tycoons, aloof coroners, and all the stuff that makes B movies great, especially slipping accents. A lot of the characters are named after various comic creators who have worked on the Man Thing comic. A few Australian points of note, amongst the many Aussie faces in Man Thing, Jack Thompson is a villainous highlight with his overblown and over-acted portrayal of Schist, the wicked oil baron and the lovely Imogen Bailey proves that screaming and jiggling are still the best things about B grade horror.
Man Thing is s really nice widescreen (16x9) transfer that beautifully shows off the odd lighting choices and brilliant day scenes. The night scenes are a special highlight (why so many people go into the swamps at night I'll never know) as they are all filmed with an unusually effective green filter, actually the green filter gets a LOT of use by the director. The day scenes all have a similar yellow tinge to them, which really adds to the disposition of the movie.
This has a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that gives the sub-woofer a massive workout. The various sound effects are crisp and clear throughout; the noises of the swamp come from all around and add to the moody atmosphere.
Extra Features
There is just a trailer on this disc, unfortunately. I was disappointed with there not being any 'From Comic to Film" documentary that seems to be on all Marvel's discs.
The Verdict
Not to be taken seriously, but with a sense of fun, Man Thing is a big pot of extra-spicy gumbo, full of good ol' southern hospitality. Stupid cheap thrills and a great way to waste 92 minutes, this is a B grade monster movie at its best, let down by a lack of extras.
Movie Score
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