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Upon viewing THAT LITTLE MONSTER, I found that this movie is actually quite stylish, and better thought-out than most movies in theaters today. There are some true moments of black humor, mixed in well with some fun shocks and suspense. Ultimately, the movie is an affectionate nod to THE TWILIGHT ZONE series (the story is almost a direct lift of one specific episode), and particularly the underlying spooky humor that show was noted for.
Originally, this was written as an episode for TV's MONSTERS, but writer / director Paul Bunnell decided to expand the idea into a longer, artier version. The cast is mainly made up of a talented group of unknown starlets, but horror fans will be happy to see Reggie Bannister of the PHANTASM films here, in a small but significant role (just don't expect to see him running away from flying spheres, and you'll be happy). It was enjoyable to see Bannister again, this time playing Twelvetrees, the butler who warns the baby-sitter about that little monster.
Shot in 16mm for the bargain basement cost of $30,000, Bunnell spared no effort in trying to make this movie look as polished and professional as anything the big studios are putting out today. And his strive for perfectionism shows in many of the setups. One elaborate shot has the camera dollying up to a door, twisting around then going up the wall, then over the top of the room and down inside it. Most people would have been content with a dolly to the doorknob, then a dissolve to the inside. But not Bunnell. What looks like a robot dolly / crane is actually a specially-built room that rotates, and a Steadicam operator. Pretty impressive stuff. I was so blown away by this shot, I rewound the tape and watched it again. It's small touches like these that help set this movie above much of the competition. And it took them just three takes to get such an elaborate shot to Bunnell's satisfaction.
There's also a surprise guest star at the end of the film, one that will leave many of you scratching your heads wondering how Bunnell managed to wrangle this guy up.
My only complaints with the movie are small -- some of the staging is too theatrical, and I sense that Bunnell has his roots in community theatre. And the story has a tendency to drag in places, due to Bunnell's "artsy" touches. Luckily, these moments are few and far between. If you're a fan of humor at its darkest, you won't be disappointed with THAT LITTLE MONSTER!
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