Paul Lynch’s gloriously awful Humongous (1982) satiates my lifelong appetite for overgrown mongoloids that do great bodily harm. The list includes a long and veritable who’s-who of the slasher canon, from Jason Voorhees, Madman Marz, and Cropsy the deep-fried caretaker, to the cute and cuddly knife-wielding Eric, who terrorizes The House on Sorority Row. I would suggest that all of the movies based on those maniacs are leagues better than Humongous, which starts off on a sleazy note, and then wimps out on its numerous kills. But it doesn’t matter; the movie involves a creepy house on a creepy island that’s inhabited by a creepy Wild Man of Borneo who likes to crush people with his bare hands, and that’s good enough for me.
That sleazy intro kicks off straight away, as a woman is raped at a cocktail party on her parents island. Unfortunately, her attacker gets the chance to finish the job before the woman’s highly aggressive German Shepherds break loose from their pen and tear the man very nearly limb from limb. Years later, a group of kids — including three siblings and an injured boater — gets shipwrecked on that same island. It becomes clear from the get-go that someone or something is watching them. One of the kids goes off in search of help, stumbles upon an abandoned house, and is attacked by a gargantuan creature. One by one, the other castaways fall prey to whatever is stalking the island. Two intrepid survivors discover that the creature is — surprise! — the violent spawn of the raped woman, who cared for her progeny for years on the island until she died, leaving him without food. Now, he’s hungry, he’s angry, and he’s not above eating raw human meat to get by.
Look, Humongous ain’t no great shakes. It came at a time when the market had already been flooded by every possible cheap form of slice-and-dice exploitation, and the craze was already starting to die. It was also made by the same guy who gave us Prom Night two years earlier, which contains what is quite possibly the most horrific disco dance sequence ever committed to film. There’s a reason Lynch was relegated to directing episodes of bad television for the next thirty years after his Canadian tax-shelter slasher phase had passed. The pacing of Humongous is slow, the kills are boring, and the acting is painful to watch. There’s almost no technical value to speak of, except for perhaps a few exciting moments near the end, as the Final Girl is pursued by the killer through a boathouse. Even the freakishly deformed son is a letdown, with his face obscured for most of the movie by shadows. And yet, for anyone like me who grew up in the 70s and 80s trying to get their hands on every bit of horror celluloid they could, a movie like this holds a special place in the heart. Humongous is one of the myriad reasons why I love horror to this day. It may not be great, but there’s a nostalgia factor at play here, and that’s why I continue to come back to it, again and again.
1982; starring Janet Julian, David Wallace; directed by Paul Lynch; 97 min; R