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Second slasher effort from Paul Lynch. HUMONGOUS pits a group of stereotypical early eighties youngsters against a demented hermit on a remote island. So far so good...
A group of fun loving teens head out on a luxury vacation aboard a large boat. Eric (David Wallace), Nick (John Wildman), Donna (Joy Boushel), Carla (Janit Baldwin), and Sandy (Janet Julian) are in deep, dangerous waters when they come across Bert (Lane Coleman) stranded on a lifeboat. They let him climb aboard before the six of them continue on their doomed excursion. As the warm summer's day gives way to a foggy night sky, the overly cocky Nick looses control of the boat and it crashes into some hidden rocks. Just after they all manage to jump into the safety of the cool water, the ship bursts into a ball of flames and disappears into the depths of the ferocious sea. The group manage to swim to a nearby rocky shore, where the screams that pierce the haunting night sky make it sound like it's inhabited by a pack of wild dogs. Bert knows of the stories of Idah Parsons, a lonesome woman who lives all by herself on the island and keeps the animals for protection. They hope that maybe she can call for help. When Nick goes looking for her and doesn't return, the gang begin to realise that there is something far more sinister than a group of mutts or an elderly lady lurking in the dense forest that surrounds them...
As where PROM NIGHT owed more than a touch of inspiration to HALLOWEEN, Lynch's second effort looks as if it's more influenced by backwoods slashers such as THE BURNING or FRIDAY THE 13th. In one scene Sandy dresses as the killer's mother to try and trick him into thinking it's really her. I had to check the cover to make sure I was watching Steve Miner's second edition to the FRIDAY series! But as I've said before 'pinching from your peers' is a common practice in slasher cinema, so this didn't particularly surprise me! To be honest there's loads to recommend about HUMONGOUS. For a start there's some genuinely fine acting on display. David Wallace who plays the heroic Eric is brilliant and so was his leading lady Janet Julian. Director Lynch keeps things smooth throughout and adds some interesting ideas of his own. One bit that immediately caught my attention was when John Wildman was searching the boathouse for some help. He hears strange grunts coming from the other side of the gate and moves closer to see if he can see what's making the noise. He finds a hole big enough to look through and moves his eye up to it to see what he can spot. He jumps back in shock, when he sees a grotesque eye looking through the same hole back again! It's the little touches like that , which can make a movie all the more memorable. The butcher himself is pretty darn creepy too. He's your typical backwoods psycho, in the tradition of Jason, Marz and Cropsy! Big, mean deformed, surly and nasty! He also possesses super human strength and lets just say you wouldn't like to meet him on your way home late at night! He makes his presence known pretty early on in the runtime and he doesn't stay far out of sight for long ever after! So with all that HUMONGOUS has going for it how could it possibly ever fail?
Well...there's a terrible lack of lighting in the night scenes. Some of the best moments of the film can barely be seen because it's just too dark! We only get to see the killer's face for a couple of seconds tops, all the other shots either have him surrounded by silhouette or it's just too poorly lit to get a good view! You may think that this is only a minor set back and I'm over reacting, but when you've watched through the best part of the feature in broad daylight and built yourself up for the 'final showdown' so to speak, it pretty much spoils it when you can barely see a damn thing that's going on! I'd have thought that a director as experienced as this would've been able to handle a problem like that with ease. But that inconsistency alone prevents this flick from ever touching true greatness. As it stands it's not rubbish, but still, with a little more care with the lighting this could've been a classic.
In the odd small way, this manages to even outshine the director's previous effort. It's far more brutal with a stronger emphasis on horror. But due to that aforementioned flaw PROM NIGHT remains the best of Lynch's slasher work. That said though it's still worth watching for the superb cast and some exciting sequences. But be warned...bring your night vision goggles!
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