Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
October 1st, 2016


Directed by Jack Fields, Erik Gardner
Written by Kaspar Ainelo, Jan Andresson
Starring Steven Barton, Jon Condit, Kaye Marie DeLancey
108 mins

There are days when I'm very glad I have a two star rating. I put that in place originally for two purposes: one, a movie that's purely mundane, with nothing particularly good or bad to it, or two, a movie that's almost equal parts good and bad so as to create a kind of brackish film experience. That's just what happened with Monsterland, a movie that brings back the multi-vignette concept with occasionally great effect.

Monsterland works in many ways similarly to Zombieland, showing us a country that has for reasons we never actually hear about become overrun with a wide variety of monsters. Human beings are now no longer the highest rung on the food chain, and for one guy--who's taken refuge in a movie theater--he's about to get a good look at how life imitates art by checking out a series of stories during the film.

At first, Monsterland works like a fairly standard multi-vignette title. It even starts with one of horror's greatest cliches: skinny dipping couples. Fun, if not particularly ground-breaking, unique or even memorable. We devolve from there into sometimes spooky, sometimes comical shorts ranging from ambitious, marginally helpful brain parasites to rats given superhuman strength and bloodthirst via unusual chemical agents kept in lead-lined containers with the radiation marker on the side to an unexpected night terror to even a new look at the dental surgery practices of vampires.

That remains the case up until our protagonist eats some popcorn unexpectedly laced with one monster's blood. That's when the wheels fly off and this whole project goes off the rails, bringing out its most bizarre, hallucinatory shorts including the Patrick Longstreth joy known as "Hellyfish." It's about jellyfish. Radioactively mutated jellyfish. But that's almost a letdown in bizarre compared to the short that immediately follows the intermission: "Happy Memories."

I don't know who was smoking what to make "Happy Memories," but this is probably the stuff they were warning you about in all those DARE classes back in elementary school. I looked up the short's synopsis, and I got this, which I believe is in English, but I'm not a hundred percent sure, so check my work:

A cupcake is born to a loving mustachioed mother. As it embarks on its journey, it is exploited and tortured by a series of terrifying beings. It is torn from the prenatal pastry world, eviscerated by 12-dimensional Mathuloxes, and experimented on by a doctor of unknown powers. Will the cupcake be destroyed by torment, or metamorphose into something greater?

Most of those words were indeed in English, but they don't actually mean anything that I can pin down. It's also the point where the movie just goes absolutely batshit insane, and brings out the guy who has completely functional breast implants so he can stay home and feed his daughter while his wife goes to work, and of course, Hellyfish, which I've already noted.

The ending works about par for the course for these kind of movies, wrapping things up with a kind of hopeless ending that's almost fitting given the raging disaster that's going on outside.

Special features include trailers for Zombieworld, The Haunting of Alice D., and The Hoarder. That's it. The trailers aren't even accessible from the main menu.

Monsterland demonstrates why the two exists, a movie that's so clearly split down the middle of mundane and fun and completely barking mad that it has a clear terminator point averages out to be all right in the end. There are much better movies out there, but those who try this one out should do all right, if for no other reason than to see a movie have a complete psychological breakdown.