|Copyright 1987 New Concorde
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 13 November 2012
- Paul - If you had displayed the responsibility expected of a cub scout, or hearing equal to a seventy year-old table saw operator, none of this would have ever happened.
- Cindy - So, your romantic options in this desert town are Paul or Eddie, and you chose Paul. Good choice.
- Big Ed - The dumb, gun-toting local sheriff.
- Eddie - Big Ed's deputy and son. It is fortunate that they teach genetics in school, or else I'd never understand how two people this dumb could end up being father and son. I mean, without DNA, what are the odds?
- Simon - Harvey Korman! An archeologist who believes that anything that an ancient civilization etched in stone has to be about aliens.
- Cecil - Harvey Korman again! He is Simon's unscrupulous brother whose business practices border on the unbelievable (because, you know, the rest of this movie could like so totally happen).
- Dude - Cecil's idiotic musicphile son, and easily the dumbest person in the entire film. Considering the script and the cast, that's saying a lot. Killed by 180 decibels of the Grateful Dead.
- Melvis - Cecil's ditzy wife. Besides Paul and Cindy, does anyone in this town have an IQ above 60?
- The Munchies - Mean little creatures that look like baby Komodo dragons with hair, talk like L.A. gangbangers, and dress like the bounty hunters in "Critters."
- Arnold - The first Munchie. He starts off gentle, but after being mistreated he changes into his complete killer Inca homunculus outfit.
|Paul is a young man with a problem, and that problem is his visitors-from-the-stars infatuated flake of a father. Instead of spending time smooching with Cindy or hanging out with his friends, Paul often finds himself dragged to distant places where Simon is certain that aliens left behind evidence of their visits to planet Earth. The latest escapade leads the pair (very enthusiastic father and very unenthusiastic son) to a remote Inca ruin.
On the outside of the ancient vault is an inscription, and surprisingly Simon waits for an old man to decipher the Inca script before entering. Once translated, the runes sound more like a warning of impending nuclear war than a description of aliens, facehuggers, ovipositors, or any combination of the three. Inside the tomb is a different story, and what they discover is amazing: a huge idol made of pure gold. That treasure is tossed aside when Paul spots a small biped that his father immediately claims must be an alien. It murmurs in soft Spanish as the crackpot scientist hides it inside a duffle bag so that he can smuggle it into the United States.
Wow, do you remember the days when it was possible to travel without being subjected to shoe and body cavity searches? Can you imagine trying to smuggle a two-foot-tall creature through the security at any airport these days? The Department of Homeland Security personnel get upset if you hide a child-sized skeleton in your carry-on as a joke, let alone sneaking in any entity that cannot speak English.
Note: DHS employees also have no sense of humor if you address them as "comrade" or "infidel."
After landing at the airport, illegal alien (of some sort) safely hidden from the officials, Paul and his father are picked up by Cindy. En route back home they run afoul of Eddie. He does not pull them over for speeding, but rather for Cindy's car backfiring and violating the noise ordinance. Eddie is the requisite obnoxious police officer in the movie, and in the history of film there are very few officers of the law who exceed his groan-inducing persona. It goes beyond his constant hitting on Cindy, his smug dissertations on the limited aspects of law he actually knows, or even his substandard physical appearance. I really dislike Eddie, so much that he is one of the few people I would gladly see appear in a "Saw" film.
"Hanging's too good for him. Burning's too good for him! He should be torn into little bitsy pieces and buried alive!" In fact, death by belt sander might be too good for a character like Eddie.
With a real live alien sitting on his couch, Simon runs off to a local UFO convention to spread the word. The two teenagers are left to babysit the strange little creature. First it gets introduced to television, then to pork rinds, and finally the little guy is given a Playboy to keep it occupied while Paul and Cindy sneak upstairs to have sex.
Any parents out there who often leave teenagers in charge of the younger kids are probably hoping that this is far-fetched. How old are you, seventy? I am nearly forty and still remember what it was like to be a teenager. If I had been left in charge of the little ones, I have to agree that the foremost thought on my mind would be what I could do to keep them busy while I tried to get freaky with the girl next door, be it on the bathroom floor or anywhere else available which had a lockable door.
Downstairs all heck breaks loose, because Cecil has Simon's house bugged and knows about the potentially lucrative discovery. He and Dude sneak into the house to steal the creature; after no small amount of damage to the kitchen and furnishings therein, they bag their prize. With a talking entity of unknown origin in hand, what do you think that Cecil does? Yep, he takes off and leaves Dude in charge of babysitting it. The babysitting gig does not go well. When the little guy misbehaves, Dude responds in an inappropriate manner and things quickly escalate from child care to open warfare. Implements such as a pool stick, fondue fork, and eventually a shotgun are brought to bear as the two antagonists try to kill each other.
Before child services can be called to the scene, Dude totally loses his cool and chops the Munchie into four pieces. That, my friends, is not what you do to a Munchie. Each of the four chunks grows into a full-fledged, fully-corrupted, full-of-antisocial behavior little monster. Dude ends up completely and audibly dead. About this time Paul and Cindy notice that their ward is missing, but are outmatched when they discover the four Munchies playing with a shotgun.
Dealing with four miniature cretins who have a shotgun is dicey at best, so Paul and Cindy wait until they drive off in Dude's car to resume their attempt to round up the little monsters. Actually, now that they are armed with a car, the Munchies are more formidable. In short order the fiends run an old woman and a motorcycle gang off the road. So, compared to a befuddled crone driving a massive hunk of Detroit steel, a contingent of the Hell's Angels, and a pair of teenagers in a car, the Munchies are the victors. That means that Munchies are probably the most dangerous things on the planet.
The Munchies are finally distracted from their rampage by a pair of girls swimming in a lake. Neither of the young women is harmed, but either the excitement or the lake's frigid water cause one girl's headlights to get stuck in the on position. No, neither of the swimming babes have a car. Yes, it's a euphemism. After that the Munchies savage an independently-owned ice cream parlor before disappearing into a drainage pipe.
Throughout this movie there is a whole lot of Harvey Korman. Not only does he wear dual hats as Cecil and Simon (to be pedantic, they wear a rug and a hat, respectively), but any time someone turns on a TV we see Cecil in a commercial for one of his businesses. I thought that I had built up a pretty strong tolerance to Harvey Korman after watching The Star Wars Holiday Special, but this was way over the line. The constant exposure to all Korman all the time made me pause the film twice, just to enjoy five minutes of my existence without Harvey Korman.
Woof, that's a lot of Korman.
Hours pass by without any sign of the creatures and Cecil thinks that the crisis has passed. He presides over the opening of his newest commercial endeavor: a thirty-six hole miniature golf course. With so many humans enjoying such a dorky amusement, the Munchies are certain to put in an appearance. When they do, Cecil and the newly returned Big Ed do exactly the wrong thing. They chop one up with a pair of pruning shears. Now there are seven of them and the town is under siege.
If the Munchies discover a cross cut shredder and put two and two together the human race is doomed.
Paul discovers the creatures' weakness by accident when he knocks one of them into a television set. The electricity from the shorting TV turns the Munchie into a stone statue. Faced with mortality, the Munchies take off and flee into the caves where Cecil stores all of the unmentionable ingredients from his various businesses. That's where the final showdown between Paul and the creatures takes place.
While this movie is a nearly shameless rip-off of "Gremlins," there is one interesting perspective that sets it apart from other films that copied the idea of little creatures running amok. That idea is comparing the Munchies to human beings, especially youth. Arnold is, initially, innocent and childlike, but becomes malicious after being exposed to hurtful behavior. In "Gremlins," Gizmo's nature allows him to resist being corrupted along with the newer Mogwai. However, while both Zack in "Gremlins" and Paul here are gentle "owners," Dude is not. Dude is an abusive jerk. It's that violence that transforms Arnold from a gentle companion into an evil monster, and once the little fellow turns mean, he stays mean. That is the interesting point of view buried under all the bad puppetry and threadbare plot.
Also, the angry Munchie collects a gang that behaves in the same manner as he does. Not terribly surprising, considering they are all cut from the same flesh, but it is another parallel to human behavior.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Los Angeles is just like New Jersey, except it has earthquakes and better beaches.
- There is nothing worse than a dork with power.
- The entity responsible for designing R'lyeh is now working in southern California as an interior decorator.
- A box of cereal is not a ballistic barrier.
- In southern California "yard work" means either raking the sand or vacuuming the Astroturf.
- There is nothing worse than being stuck in an elevator with a claustrophobic diabetic who hasn't eaten since breakfast.
- Love should never involve a shovel.
- The Incas discovered electricity before Ben Franklin.
- 2 mins - That guy digging in the background is just collecting a paycheck.
- 5 mins - I dare you to teach it to say "Mogwai."
- 15 mins - We are only fifteen minutes into the film and I already have had enough Harvey Korman.
- 19 mins - Welcome to parenthood!
- 33 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A SPEED LIMIT SIGN!
- 50 mins - Stop, stop, stop massacring my beloved National Anthem.
- 55 mins - I mean it, no more Harvey Korman!
- 77 mins - Paul Bartel! Thank God you are here! This movie is horrible, and I've had enough of Harvey Korman to last me a lifetime. Could you please...and there he goes.
- 80 mins - I have officially OD'd on Harvey Korman.
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Simon: "Well, I'm glad you support me in this Paul, because I need your help. You must not let Arnold out of your sight until I get back." |
Paul: "Ah Dad, it's our first day back and you want me to stay at home and babysit some alien?"
||(Arnold horsing around on the pool table.) |
Dude: "Hey, cut it out you furry wimp! It took my mom four-thousand books of green stamps to get that."
||Eddie: "You think just because my dad's away at the riot control convention that's your cue to run wild in the streets?" |
Paul: "Um Eddie, you're not going to believe this but Cindy's dad is in the CIA, and we are on a mission of national security. That ugly yellow car is full of Ruskie spies with stolen secrets from the Silicon Valley."
||Eddie: "You can't kill them with guns." |
Cecil: "Yeah, how do you know that?"
Eddie: "Because I read this book called 'The Conquistador's Journal.'"
Eddie: "Look, these things regenerate. You can't kill 'em. If you cut them up there's just going to be more of them."
Eddie: "I don't believe that crap!"
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|Paul and Cindy try to catch the Munchies, which are armed with a shotgun, with a plastic garbage can. Gee, that seems like a good idea.
| ||Leave a comment||EXTRAS||Buy the movie|| |
Reply #1. Posted on November 15, 2012, 04:18:47 PM by Pacman000
Nice review. I'm a bit disappointed that the munchies don't "munch" anything. I bunch of little Gremlin-esc creatures trying to eat a whole town would be funny.
Posted on November 21, 2012, 01:48:26 PM by FatFreddysCat
I am fairly sure I saw at least part of this film on cable back in the '80s but I have only the vaguest memories of it, mainly of Harvey Korman. CURSE YOU KORMAN!!!
Posted on November 28, 2012, 12:35:25 PM by gloomhound
Am I a bad person because after reading this review I immediately when to see if I could get this movie thru Netflix just so I could see the "headlights to get stuck in the on position" scene?
Posted on October 20, 2013, 07:04:06 PM by DeanM
Here's a film I saw when I was about ten years old and sort of forgot but never really forgot. Make of that what you will.
Probably the funniest thing about this review is that I had no idea when I originally saw this flick who Harvey Korman was. Watching the film, I thought he was just some weird-looking a***ole who was in a cheap flick. Little did I know that I was watching a slice of slumming from one of the men who made Blazing Saddles so awesome.
I say all that because, much like the reviewer, by the time this flick was over I wanted whomever was playing these two characters to die. Not the characters, mind you, but the actor. He was so intensely creepy and irritating that I thought he was going to hypnotise me into running through my home town naked. Or something equally excruciating. As hard to take as he is in as concentrated doses as here, however, you do notice how much better an actor he is than any of the rest of the cast. None of the other actors can get through five lines without making one want to smash the television in protest.
Korman aside, the real star of this flick was the Munchie puppet(s). Yes, they are severe Gremlin rip-offs, and the parallels that are pointed out between child development and the creatures' life-cycles form something that proves more interesting than both films. But as incompetent and silly as the script is, I think the writers knew that any connection they made between the flick and the audience would be through the Munchies. Long have I hoped for a sequel. Maybe I shall just have to go out and make one myself...
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