1982’s Humongous may be much more obscure than Paul Lynch’s earlier classic Prom Night, but it rises above the cookie-cutter slasher tale Lynch had previously churned out and thankfully lacked a seven-minute disco song.
The film opens on Labor Day weekend, 1946, with a rich family throwing a party on their lakeside property. Everyone appears to be having a good time, with a bunch of couples making out and dancing to some old-school music before things take a turn for the worse. A drunk man (Page Fletcher) decides to go up to a lady he’s particularly interested in and tries to woo her, to no avail. There’s evidently some history between the two and the woman runs off into the woods only to be followed and attacked. As the man begins to rape her, a dog breaks out of its cage and viciously attacks him, gnawing flesh off the bone. As he lay prone, the woman takes this opportunity to get revenge and finish him off. The experience traumatizes her severely.
Flash forward 30-plus years, with our group of teen heroes: the natural leader Eric (David Wallace) and his girlfriend Sandy (Janet Julian) are partying up in cottage country. Along for the ride are Eric’s nerdy sister Carla (Janit Baldwin), his younger, mulletted brother Nick (John Wildman) and Nick’s slutty girlfriend Donna (Joy Boushel). They are cruising around on a boat one night when they see an older man struggling in the water beside his capsized craft. They rescue him, and he tells them about a nearby island where a strange old lady lives with lots of viscous dogs. Since it’s late, the group decides to anchor the boat, and sleep until morning.
However, this doesn’t happen quite as planned – after a series of events, Nick gets drunk and accidentally causes the boat to explode (well, an obvious miniature of the boat), causing everybody to swim to the shore of the aforementioned spooky island. The group is now stranded on the island, but the weird old lady and her dogs turn out to be the least of their worries; in fact, the animals have all been eaten. A deformed madman stalks the island and there’s only one word to describe him. Humongous.
First things first, one of the biggest complaints about this film is its poor illumination, and those critics are 100% correct. Most of the action scenes are way too dark to see what’s happening. Even the killer’s face is blotted out, so the viewer never knows just how monstrous he looks.
Though, it could be argued that the director deliberately attempted to keep his antagonist off screen for as long as he could and reveal him gradually as the film rolled on. It’s a ploy that is used regularly in horror features and it’s reminiscent of the anticipation of having a surprise present in a wrapped box and guessing what’s inside as you shake it. You only have to check titles like Halloween, Predator, The House By The Cemetery or even the early entries in the Friday The 13th series to see that it works.
Speaking of those movies, it seems Paul Lynch and screenwriter William Gray have seen them, too. At one point during the climax our Final Girl pulls an Amy Steel (via Friday The 13th Part 2) and pretends to be the killer’s mother, scolding him until he backs off enough for her to escape. Immediately after that, she goes out to the hallway and he appears behind her, knocking her over the railing and down the stairs, a sequence practically stolen shot for shot from the original Halloween. Though, that’s not to say that the film doesn’t have its original moments as well.
Bottom line, despite its many flaws, Humongous is a great little flick that has gone somewhat unnoticed for far too long. It has a great premise, some fun death scenes, and it is just an entertaining movie to watch in general. Humongous is cheesy fun, and slasher completists will surely want to give this one a try, as should anyone curious.
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