Saturday, September 26, 2015

REPTISAURUS: THE MOVIE

In the beginning, at least for the purposes of this bloggy thing, there was Reptilicus, a 1961 Danish/USA film about a reptilian sock puppet that attacked Copenhagen and featured a toe-tapper of a song called “Tivoli Nights.” Audiences looked upon this movie and saw that it was goofy fun.

Reptilicus the movie begat Reptilicus the comic book, two issues of which were published by Charlton Comics, which was also publishing  ongoing Gorgo and Konga titles. With the third issue, probably because this title wasn’t selling nearly as well as the other two, Reptilicus the comic book begat Reptisaurus the comic book. It took anither issue or two before Reptisaurus stopped looking like Reptilicus. It took a few more issues for the renamed title to get cancelled. However, this was not the end of the begatting.

Reptisaurus the comic book begat Reptisaurus, a 2009 monster movie that has not yet been released in the United States. After viewing a YouTube preview of the film which include a blurb stating it was based on the Reptisaurus the Terrible comic book. At that moment, I knew I had to see this movie. My desperate quest began.

My desperation was born of my love for giant monsters in movies and comic books. I own Gorgo, Konga and Reptilicus on DVD. I have nigh-complete runs of their comic-book series. I tracked down and bought the novelizations of these movies, though I haven’t yet read those garish and sexed-up prose adaptations.

But the quest to see Reptisaurus (the movie) was a challenging one. As near as I can determine, it was never shown in theaters in the United States, it never aired on American television and it never got a U.S. release on DVD. Every now and then, a DVD of the movie would show up on eBay, but never in a version playable on American machines. My quest seemed doomed...

...until I discovered an online seller offering a DVD from Thailand that included the English version of the movie at a most reasonable price. I was a happy little monster child.

Much to my delight, the DVD would play on my machines. I did get a wee bit nervous when all the trailers were in a language I assume was Thai and without English subtitles, but the English version of the movie itself played without a hitch. The only downside was that it’s not a very good movie.

Here’s the quick plot summation:

On a remote island, military scientists have created Reptisaurus, an enormous, monstrous hybrid of a bat and a snake. The creature escapes from the lab, killing all the soldiers stationed there and all but two scientists. One scientist flees by boat, the other is presumed dead, but has taken shelter in the bombed-out remains of the island laboratory.

A two-man team is sent to eliminate Reptisaurus and cover up this ill-conceived operation. They are joined by four young survivors of a shipwreck. Commence the snacking on humans.

Reptisaurus does bear some physical resemblance to its comic-book inspiration, but the comics version was a prehistoric creature and not a man-made one. The CGI is so-so, but the movie doesn’t stint on showing Reptisaurus in action. Unfortunately, as is common with many CGI monsters, the creature’s size changes depending on what’s happening in a scene. It’s bigger than a fighter jet in the opening scenes, smaller when interacting with humans.

Directed by Christopher Ray, who has directed and produced a number of much better movies, Reptisaurus tends to follow plot development similar to many films of this sort. There’s the military guy whose only concern is for the cover-up and not for any soldiers or even civilians who would end up as collateral damage. There’s the usual characters you know are doomed to die from the moment you see them on the screen. There’s the same bloody body parts you’ve seen many times before.

The acting is sub-par. Gil Gerard plays the nasty military guy and, cinematically and figuratively, never leaves his office. Bernard Fredericks plays Major Dawson, the leader of the two-man team, and he’s not convincing when he’s being deceptive, sympathetic or hard-ass. Yahaira Love is leaden as the scientist left behind and She-Who-Must-Explain-the-Plot. The movie’s best performance comes from Frank Forbes, who plays the scientist who escaped the island and is willing to accept the consequences of letting the world knows what is going on there.

Sidebar note. According to his bio at the Internet Movie Database, Forbes “has recently created a comic book series.” I have not been able to find any additional information about that.

SPOILER AHEAD
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After Reptisaurus is destroyed, leaving Gerard disappointed by the inconvenient human survivors, Forbes springs the oldest plot twist in the world on him. Reptisaurus wasn’t the only monster created on the island. Cut to large eggs starting to hatch.

SPOILER OVER
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SPOILER OVER


I’m glad I own Reptisaurus because I am an insane completist when it comes to Gorgo, Konga and Reptilicus/Reptisaurus. If the price I had to pay for owning this movie was having to watch it, I’m okay with that as well. But the best recommendation the film gets from me is that, if you love this kind of movie, it’s 83 minutes of this kind of movie. You’ve seen worse. So I have I.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

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