Starting off with a delightfully nasty sequence, before cutting to a totally lame 'stale old gag' scene, the first few minutes of "Monster Man" pretty much foretell (except that not all the jokes are that lame) what is to come for the remaining 80 minutes.
Adam (Eric Jungmann "Not Another Teen Movie") is a timid, virginal, cautious young man who is on a road trip to declare his feelings to an old (unrequited) flame.
Adam is none to pleased though that his one time, big mouthed, sex obsessed friend Harley (Justin Urich, "Carrie 2:The Rage") has invited himself along for the ride.
But if Adam thought that having the loud mouth, condescending Harley along on the trip was bad news, he's in for a shock as things get really nasty for the two guys when they are run off the road by a huge monster truck with a customised, armoured, hydraulic cab.
Freaked out to the max, they meet a pretty hitchhiker named Sarah (Aimee Brooks, "The Hillside Strangler") and use their attraction to her to take their minds off the sinister truck. But not for long though as the truck, along with its terrifying driver, returns
Director Michael Davis shot three teen romance comedies before "Monster Man" and when you watch it you'll certainly not be surprised.
Prepare to be thrown by the movie if you are expecting a dark, sinister and serious excursion into 'Back Road's Psycho' territory as most of the first hour is made up of straight out of the textbook 'gross teen comedy' hijacks and Kevin Smith style, explicit language, conversations about sex, society and pop culture.
The overly manic fights, screaming gags and arguments that take place between Harley and Adam do take up too much of the running time and Justin Urich's loud character can really grate at times. But luckily there are a few well crafted (and acted) jokes, staggered at just the right intervals, to make this overly long build-up to the horror aspects of the movie enjoyable (if slightly frustrating) viewing and it's best described as "Road Trip", meets "Jeepers Creepers", meets "Duel" , meets "Clerks". Yes, it's that chaotic a mix!
Some of the best comic moments include an amazingly (and I mean AMAZINGLY) disgusting black-comic scene with a dreaming, horny Harley in a motel bed which is an absolute bad taste riot, a fun scene when Harley and Adam are discussing Sarah because they think she's asleep and a totally unexpected outburst from Sarah during sex!
The longest joke sequence involves a terrified Adam in a wonderfully foul and disgusting rest room, complete with suitably offensive pornographic graffiti and a truly gross 'glory hole' between the stalls.
And there is no way anyone would sit on that toilet!
Performances by all are good and everyone is obviously giving it their all. Aimee Brooks looks great and handles the comedy well, Jungmann makes for a very likeable hero, and even Urich (although stuck with a character that is perhaps too much sometimes) does a fine job at making Harley's relationship with Adam fun and believable.
Michael Bailey Smith, as the 'Monster Man', is given little to do really but his grossly exaggerated body movements are highly effective.
Obviously going for all out parody as far as the horror elements are concerned, Davis's script never misses a chance to take an affectionate swipe at all those great "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (and its ilk) back road's ingredients. We have the ever essential road kill, a decapitated dolls head, road side graves, a marvellous 'Deputy Dawg' Policeman and red necks (actually real-life amputees) with body parts missing. You know
And although Davis makes no mention of it in the DVD commentary track there is a nice visual nod (though maybe unintentional) to 70's classic "Race with the Devil".
The monster truck design is suitably rough and homemade looking and makes the vehicle a nicely intimidating presence.
The chase sequences are also exceptionally well edited, shot and skilfully pulled off by some brilliant driving. Seeing the truck speed and leap it's way towards its fleeing prey as it literally roars at their heels makes for some genuinely exciting sequences.
The make-up and gore FX (by Todd Masters) are suitably in your face and messy with even a bit of well used (and technically pretty good too) CGI, and if some of the 'skin' looks a little waxy and latex-like and a mutilated body used for a nicely sick comedy moment ("Try wiggling"!) is rather rubbery looking, overall the FX work, as well as the facial design work on the 'Monster Man' himself and on some of the latterly introduced 'creations', are very well done. Especially considering the low budget origins of the movie.
The purposely ludicrous finale is so packed with (wild) plot explanations that Davis must be taking the piss (at least I hope so) and the same goes for his psycho family which is chock full of every back roads, red neck, crazy killer cliché you could hope for.
We could have done with a few less one-liners during the final showdown, but on the whole the crazed and chaotic splatter finale is lots of fun.
And Davis makes sure none of the sparse running time left is wasted even packing the final few minutes with a nice visual joke, a total piss take of the old 'he'll be back' psycho twist and even a politically incorrect verbal assault that basically sums up the entire enterprise.
It was a mistake to use ¾ of the running time up on the 'teen comedy' before getting to the real meat of the psycho plot, 45 minutes would have been sufficient, but at least that portion of the film contained enough gross-out jokes and genuine laughs to sustain the interest and the full-on gore comedy of the last 25 minutes or so pretty much met the expectations that had been built up in the audience.
Overall then "Monster Man" is quite a different take on the horror genre (a rare enough achievement in itself) that tries, with varied success, to mix very different styles and ingredients into one crazy concoction and, faults aside, it makes for a very entertaining viewing experience that deserved better than it's festival showing only/DVD fate