The Chronicles of Horror Movie Night: BLUE MONKEY (1987)
After starting in Washington D.C. nine years ago, Horror Movie Night has expanded to include chapters in Austin, Dallas, and Chicago. GATW’s own Brian Kelley is the originator and programmer of this illustrious weekly Wednesday night tradition which features a “classic” horror film. Each week I will be reviewing/commenting on the past week’s selection so do your best to find the film, most of which have not made it past VHS, and follow along. Better yet, start your own chapter!
Thank you, Canada, for giving such a wonderfully odd film to us for the first of many Horror Movie Night columns. It’s only right that you get a good sense of the kind of insanity we, the proud and faithful viewers, have known about and loved for quite sometime. This film has it all - outlandish practical FX, nonsense, comic relief, a little gore, more nonsense, old people, and lasers! What could possibly go wrong in a small town hospital where some strange worm has burst from some old man’s esophagus? There is also the game of trying to figure out where the titular blue monkeys come into play. Well, that’s a bit of a head-scratcher.
In William Fruet’s (SEARCH AND DESTROY, KILLER PARTY) 1987 monster-piece a small town hospital gets a lot of excitement when an old man is brought in and soon has a worm-like larvae squiggling its way out of his throat. From that hatches an odd insect which grows exponentially, thanks to a mishap with a super growth potion in the lab and, of course, it soon disappears leaving a mess and missing hospital personnel behind. Before the government can quarantine the hospital, a kooky entomologist makes it inside to help track down the strange creature and, along with a female doctor, a cop (Steve Railsback), and a group of terminally ill children, they attempt to bring down the beast before the government takes out the whole building.
I know, you’re still asking about that pesky blue monkey. We’ll get there.
There are times in this flick that will leave you in a haze of laughter brought on by utter confusion. Why do people think having sex on the job and doing drugs with a potentially dangerous contagion in the room is a good idea? We’ve all seen that before, though. Really, what good is a horror flick if there isn’t a little ill timed intercourse. But then you get an exchange like this:
COP: “I never would’ve known this place was a hospital.”
DOCTOR: “We try to keep up on all the modern conveniences...we may look a little old fashioned from the outside, but inside we’re pretty up to date. How would you like to take a look at the future?”
Now we cue the doctor entering in a security code on a keypad and through a door they go into the hospital’s new laser research lab! Yes, the cop barely believes this small town even has a working hospital and now he sees not only is it true, but the facility also houses a football field-sized high tech lab with what appears to be a small version of the Large Hadron Collider. I wonder if showing us this very out-of-place piece of equipment will come back into play later? Hmm...
But you cannot always bet on obvious foreshadowing in a film such as this. For example, around the twenty minute mark a husband and his pregnant wife make way into the waiting room to get a room for her pending labor. She’s not in labor yet, but the husband has calculated every bit of her pregnancy out to the smallest detail. What important part will this play? Is her belly full of more giant maggots? Nope. This couple pops up from time to time with no real significance to the rest of the story other than a bit of comic relief. Guess it makes sense seeing as Geroge and Sandra Baker are played by SC-TV vets Joe Flaherty and Robin Duke. Maybe it’s a rule for a Canadian production to have a certain number of national celebrities in order to get certain tax incentives.
Don’t fret, because on top of everything else crazy happening, they still have time to smack you in the face with some hard science. I’m not talking about how magnets work, or anything too complicated, but there is the small matter of the other few people who seem to be infected with the same original parasite. Luckily, a geriatric blind alcoholic woman, who refuses to play by the rules, comes to the rescue. Thanks to her they learn the only way to stop the little bug from festering inside of you is to get tanked! Ingesting an excessive amount of alcohol kills any bad parasites, germs and worms which may be trying to incubate inside you. Remember that kids - alcohol saves the day every time.
This film is a bit light on the gore, which is always a crowd pleaser at HMN, but what it lacks in blood and guts it makes up for with insanity only the 80s could produce. Years before giant creatures would be ruined by CGI, we are graced with a towering rubber suit in the form of the evil giant bug. Our main villain does look a bit silly - like a pissed off praying manits - but something about that daikaiju-ish character is charming. Still, he’s no monkey.
There are plenty of blue hues used in the film, especially in the hospital’s basement, where our evil insect attempts to hatch more of its kind, but the lighting choices do not have any bearing on the title itself. That honor comes from a group of kids. Throughout the film our fearless cop has run-ins with a quartet of terminally ill children who sneak around the hospital causing mischief at every turn. It’s because of them the magical growth serum is spilled on the bug in the first place. At one point after the government has locked everyone inside the pint-sized group sneaks down to the basement to make their way to the other side of the building undetected. It’s dark and scary and they wonder what could await them on their journey. A young girl in the group, played by a 7-year-old Sarah Polley, is confident in suggesting, “I bet we’re gonna find a big blue monkey.”
Yep, that’s it. That’s where the film pulls the inexplicable title. Nothing but a throwaway line by a character who only speaks a couple of times and gets very little screen time. There is an alternate title, INSECT, which was used for some of the home video releases but the copy I watched was branded as BLUE MONKEY. Really it doesn’t need to be changed because the logic used to name the flick is the very same which will leave you agape while watching.
-Best Kill: Man on crutches is decapitated and has his head eaten by the bug
-Screen Time Given to Pregnant Comic Relief Couple: 4.5 minutes out of 97 (approximately)
-Number of Drunk Old Ladies: 2
-Number of Large Lasers in Small Town Hospital: 1
-Number of Blue Monkeys: 0
Coming soon to Horror Movie Night (Chronicles are posted one week after screening):
-2/23/2011: THE BEING (1983)
-3/2/2011: THE CURSE (1987)
-3/9/2011: MARDI GRAS MASSACRE (1978)