A Spielberg Styled 'Family' Horror Film!
This is not a "Monster on the Rampage" monster film, but is squarely in
the mode of Steven Spielberg's focus on family-in-peril / search for
family themes that are found in virtually all of the science-fiction
films Spielberg has written or produced, from 'Jaws' (1975) up to his
masterpiece 'War of the Worlds' (2005), both of which are highly
suggested by this film.
It's the story of a three generation Korean family and how they 'grow
up' and adapt to a severe crisis. The crisis happens to be a giant
fish-frog type monster (a product of river pollution, which lives in
the Han River and its sewers) which snatches the family's youngest
This is not a kiddie film, but one that can appeal to everyone, because
the focus is squarely on the individual family members and how they
adapt to the crisis. As such, it may seem boring to Monster Fans, but
so what. This is a well made film. In the amazing beginning, we are
introduced to the hardworking grandfather, his two sons and daughter,
and his granddaughter. The father is a lazy dead beat dad, the other
brother an alcoholic, and the daughter a bow and arrow Olympian who
chokes up and loses the gold. Then, the monster, huge and really a
gross out, attacks the river bank and starts eating people and
snatching the granddaughter, before leaping, frog like, back into the
river. Wow! What a beginning!
Others may become disappointed that the movie is not totally played for
monster scares, but instead focuses on the family members and their
quest to recover the granddaughter. This comprises most of the film,
but if you just go with it, you'll enjoy it; especially watching it the
second time, knowing how carefully this film has been constructed.
I give it an 8.
Humorous note: For fun, turn on both the English dubbing and the
English subtitles. They frequently don't match and are completely
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SEE ALSO ZOMBI LAND.
Rubber Creatures We Love You
This is one of the more surreal Japanese rubber monster movies
featuring four monsters, though only three are made of latex. Filmed in
Guam, this was the first non-Godzilla film to be made by the great
Joon-ho Bong. The DVD is extremely well done, especially considering
the lack of extras on most DVDs of this genre. The movie is an
excellent transfer and contains a commentary track (!) with Producer
Fumio Tanaka, which is almost as entertaining as the film itself. There
are also trailers, a documentary on the real animals that inspired the
creatures in the film, and more.
The plot is essentially this: an unmanned spacecraft is intercepted by
a monster, the space polywog of the title (and apparently known as Yog
in the original release), which looks like blue scrubbing bubbles
invading a scarcely altered Apollo Command Service Module (CSM). When
the spacecraft returns to earth with the spores it lands near an island
which is slated to become a resort destination. The spores act to
gigantify creatures that then trample all over the island, though
avoiding each other for most of the movie (many villages are destroyed,
however). The creatures are Gezora, a cuttlefish-like affair,
Gandymedes, a Enchidnae, and Kamoebas, a longhorned beetle. Without
question, Gezora is the most fearsome creature I have ever seen on
screen (unless you count some of the creatures from "Ultraman"); I
particularly enjoy watching him walk on his tendrils.
The main human characters are a couple of photographers, one of whom
gets possessed by the polywog, and the perky female advertising
assistant. Ultimately the plot all comes to a head when the creatures
converge on an active volcano along with the possessed guy; after all
the monsters are immolated in the lava the island is ready for tourism.
The film lacks the typical good-versus-evil rubber monster, with all
monsters equally bad. Offsetting this oversight is the bonus commentary
track which is much more interesting than I expected. It is in Chinese
with Thai subtitles, but Tanaka shares many interesting tidbits about
making these films which will please grade-Z movie fans. I was
especially pleased that Tanaka noticed the resemblance between the star
of the film, Akira Kubo ("Bright Future, or Attack of the Jellyfish
People"), and Charlie Sheen (which cannot possibly be overlooked). He
also had some other interesting comments relating to Apollo 11 and
Apollo 13 (the Apollo 13 accident occurred during filming). My favorite
part of the commentary was when Tanaka and his interviewer discuss at
great length the definition of the word "minx" and how it applied to
various Toho starlets. His understated humor and observations are
genuinely entertaining, and I recommend the commentary track highly.
I would have probably given the film nine stars as a Japanese rubber
monster movie, but I finally settled on ten due to the bonus features,
especially the commentary. Fans of Hong Kong films and monster movies
in general will delight in this film..