"Real" rating: *1/2
So Bad It's Good rating: *****
It's hard to know where to start with this movie, which is the first movie to ever require me to split my rating like that. Here are the plot keywords from its imdb page: mutant / sheep / funeral / martial law / exploding gas station.
The first thing I need to do is publicly apologize to 50PageMcGee, whose Netflix copy of this languished at my house for over a month so I could get screencaps. A perfect encapsulation of my lackluster horrorthonnery this year. Sorry, Fitty! Thanks for finding this flick.
Next item on the agenda: Worst. Monster. Ever.
GODMONSTER OF INDIAN FLATS! Is... in the frame somewhere, they're telling me. Oh there he is, back there on the right. By the trees there.
The titular monster of this tale is the sorriest threat to bear the name of Monster, lamer than every impotent crawling hand I've ever seen and the Eraserhead baby combined. Both on a fictional level and as a movie prop, the very essence of the thing is moaning "Whyyy did you maaake meee?"
I'll get back to the worstmonsterness of the situation, but next is a word on the movie itself. I've seen some delightful bad movies. Sorority House Massacre II. The Crawling Hand. They use common formulas, but in each case the alchemy of stock footage, hammy acting, whipslash editing and a dozen other factors yield a result that's surprisingly unique. Godmonster has that quality; the editing kicks like a mule and the dialogue is silly and clunky, but add some luck plus the perpetual scotch haze that was 1973 and the resultant rhythm is pretty fun.
The 70's. Have some now.
Our story begins when a fleece-wearing yokel named Eddie hitches a ride to Reno in the back of a truck full of sheep. He strikes it rich at the slots and is immediately turned over to some drink-pushing ne'er-do-wells. Good ol' Elbow Johnson suggests they hop in his car and head up to Virginia City while the credits finish and by golly they do. Virginia City turns out to be a small town where people dress like Old Westy people most of the time just for the hell of it.
This is a huge chunk of the experience, because a cheap way to make a movie is go to some town where they do a bunch of weird shit they were gonna do anyway and film it. So these harsh edits I mention might fling you from a conversation right into the midst of the Wild West Main Street Parade, or perhaps an old-fashioned pie eating contest. Conversely, there are countless lingering shots of odd-looking bystanders who have nothing to do with the story, save that they're wearing themed clothing of some sort.
Larry David, Jason Statham and William Fichtner back up a young Robert Bork on piano.
At this point you might be wondering if you're really watching a monster movie. You are, right? It's got the word "monster" right there in the title.
After Eddie gets his money stolen and gets beaten up for being a dumb rube, kindly research scientist Professor Clemens drives him back to his sheep ranch, where Eddie sleeps off his drunk in the pen with his sheep. It took me a while to realize that it was Eddie's ranch and not the doc's, because 1) there didn't seem to be any actual house on it for Eddie to live in, just the enclosure where he bunked with sheep, and 2) it was not clear AT ALL that when Elbow Johnson took everyone on the wild journey to Virginia City, he was essentially driving Eddie home.
Eddie has a low grade hallucination in which he mostly sees sheep and therefore is probably not hallucinating. Then one of his sheep gives birth to a big pulsating something or other.
Clemens and his assistant Mariposa show up to check on Eddie the following morning and the three of them revel in the stupendous scientific discovery they've made. Clemens instantly became my favorite character because of his brow-furrowingly earnest performance, brought out in the way he stressed his words:
"It may provide the PROOF I need for a certain theory of cellular realignment!"
"Stand still or I'll science you!"
The trio set the pathetic beast up in some tank contraption and do their best to keep it alive. Clemens keeps up his Kool-Aid Guy levels of enthusiasm, which is nice because the monster doesn't get rampaging until minute 70 of this 89 minute movie. You heard me.
That isn't even the worst of it, because I've watched plenty of 50s monster movies and I've done terrible ratios of action vs. scientific jibjabbery. But the Godmonster Babysitters Club hardly gets any screen time, thanks to an odd subplot that strolls into the movie and instantly mushrooms out of control until very soon IT is the plot, and the movie treats the monster like an unpopular relative.
"Don't worry, folks! I'm gonna get them eventually! (Hack!...Wheeze...)"
Virginia City isn't just a town that likes the old west, it's been furiously tailored to history's standards by the fanatical Mayor Silverdale, who finds himself at odds with an out-of-towner named Barnstable, who represents some unseen rich guy who wants to buy up the old silver mines.
Godmonster! Oh wait no, it's these guys.
What makes this pretender to the plot interesting is that it isn't interesting, at all, and yet the series of events keeps you guessing. Barnstable takes to the Virginia City vibe, and we get to see him attend not one but two dress-coded events before Silverdale's cronies trick him into thinking he killed a popular dog.
Which is easy to believe because everyone's shooting live ammo on a crowded street.
There's an extended scene of the fake dog funeral, which is not a funeral for an artificial dog but rather the other thing. At this point, again, you may be wondering if you're watching a monster movie.
"I bet he's up there sniffing God's dog's butt!"
I mean, here's a funeral in a monster movie and
-- The deceased isn't a person
-- The deceased wasn't killed by the monster
-- The deceased isn't actually deceased.
"Hey girls, could one of you notice me and turn around and scream and stuff? Save me a little work here? Hello? Pffff. Fine, forget it then."
Best part of all, Barnstable isn't scared off by his damaged rep, and we get to watch his sorry attempts to buy folks' land by going door to door, inexplicably still wearing cowboy gear.
"Ha ha, good one ma'am. No, it doesn't say "Puppy Slayer" on my checks.
After a series of even sillier events Barnstable is (of course) running from a lynch mob, only to be rescued by the plot he replaced when Eddie and Mariposa drive by and enable his escape. The conflict makes its way to the Indian Flats science research facility and in all the ruckus the lab suddenly finds itself short one Godmonster.
"Yeah let's get this rampage STARTED bitches! Ho Yeaahhhhh!!!... Jeez, you guys are still really far away."
The Godmonster's amok time is short and uninspiring, pretty much what you'd expect from the WORST MONSTER EVER. The Gmonster's body count begins when it busts out, delivering a bloody double slash to a deputy before galumphing away. The lad falls to his death, and the monster's body count ends right there too. Victims: One.
"Wait, what did he say?"
Yeah, it doesn't get any of the kids. It does get to munch on some potato chips or cake or something, which is probably the only pleasurable experience in its short and horrendous life.
"Jeez. Well, better get my snacks then."
And because eight stills of this scene just aren't enough for me, I invite you to screen it for real and see if I'm exaggerating. Just watch the thing move and try not to feel sorry for it. I like to imagine the guy in the suit was wandering around the yard for twenty minutes before he managed to get into frame.
(Skip to the 44 second mark to get past the sheep footage.)
The ending of this has to be seen to believed, and you probably won't believe it even then. It involves a lot of yelling and running and shooting and fighting, and for some reason everybody's throwing garbage.
"Eat this, Iron Eyes Cody!"
While Godmonster of Indian Flats is certainly interesting, I can safely say that as a monster movie and horror movie it's quite terrible. But oh so fun. Soooo fun! I guess the truly bad cinema is the stuff you have the best time yelling at, and I don't think it's a quality anyone can intentionally put in their film, because that would wreck it. Marc and I spent 89 minutes either angrily pointing or staring in slack-jawed befuddlement, and it was a blast all the way.