A grotesquely disfigured harpooner called Iguana is severely mistreated by his fellow sailors on a whaling ship in the 19th century. One night he escapes and takes up residence on a remote ... See full summary »
Gangster Alexander Ward, his girl friend, Gypsy Boulet, and two henchmen come to Deadwood, South Dakota with the idea of stealing a few gold bars. They enlist the aid of a local ski instructor, Gil Jackson, and plan to use him as a guide out of the territory after the robbery. However, a blizzard forces them to take refuge in Jackson's cabin, where Gypsy lowers the inside temperature by giving the cold shoulder to Ward, her former sweetie until she saw Jackson. Ward don't care, as he plans to kill Jackson after they have no further use of him. But they had used an explosion in a cave to serve as a distraction during the heist, and this explosion had irritated the big spider that lived there and, sure enough, all hands have to seek refuge in the cave from the fury of the storm. All but two of them would have been better off facing the South Dakota elements. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
"Humphrass" was the behind the scenes pet name devised by actor Chris Robinson for his creature creation, a mysterious, web spinning, somewhat arachnid-like animal that stalks a small group of people in the South Dakota wilderness. Some of these people are criminals who came to stage a gold robbery, using an explosion in a cave as a diversion. Unfortunately, by doing so, they unleashed the beast, which occasionally catches up to its prey in order to do some pretty creepy things to them.
A 27 year old Monte Hellman, future icon of independent cinema (and director of classics like "Cockfighter", "The Shooting", and "Two-Lane Blacktop") made his directorial debut with this obviously low, low budget effort, done for producer Gene Corman and his brother Roger. On the whole, the movie isn't a great one, but it's under rated as far as this kind of B picture goes. It's got some genuinely spooky atmosphere, and Hellman and Robinson (himself star of such features as "Stanley") do their best to keep the monster in the shadows until the time arrives to show it in all its glory. And what a monster it is. It doesn't really look like anything seen on screen, before or since. It's wispy, long limbed, and has a largely featureless head.
The creature sequences are the main reason to watch, but not the only one. The extremely moody cinematography is by Andrew M. Costikyan; Alexander Laszlo does the effective music. The screenplay is by Roger Cormans' frequent collaborator, the talented Charles B. Griffith, and it does have some good dialogue. (Basically, the scenario is a reworking of the earlier Corman flick "Naked Paradise", but with a monster added.) There are some interesting characters in the bunch, especially gangsters' moll Gypsy (Sheila Noonan), who is already depressed and defeated at age 26. The acting is generally solid - Michael Forest is a likable hero, Frank Wolff appropriately despicable as the criminal mastermind, Corman favorite Wally Campo amiable as comedy relief guy Byron, and Richard Sinatra (Franks' cousin) has a solid presence as young punk Marty. Robinson does a good job at creating a nightmarish creature character that could easily spook younger children.
Not bad, this one. It's definitely worth a look.
Seven out of 10.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?