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Wednesday 29 May 2019

Burl reviews The Strangeness! (1980)

Ha ha and cave paintings, it’s Burl! Yes, it’s my first review in a while, but I’m aiming to get back in the game, and no mistake! Today’s review is of a cave monster movie called The Strangeness, and of the cave monster pictures - a sub(terranean)-genre that includes The Boogens, The Descent and something called simply The Cave, which I’ve never seen - nobody would call it the best! In fact it’s a little drab, and is badly in need of some extra pep!
Of course, movies set in caves or mines are in natural jeopardy of looking dark and feeling samey - ha ha, it’s the rock wall again, the dimly-lighted passage, the stalactites and stalagmites, the false way out! All of these (aside from the rock formations, maybe) are present and accounted for in The Strangeness, along with a tentacled goober monster who roams his way casually through the subterranean labyrinth and gives a good foaming to anyone he meets!
I’ll back up and give you a bit of the storyline, ha ha! It seems there’s a troublesome mine with a history of goober-murders (two of which we witness in an egregious prelude), and a motley gang is assigned by the owners to check it out! We have the nerdy writer, the writer’s good lady wife, a couple of goodtime, meat-and-potatoes pitcrawlers, a lady geologist, an expert on mines imported from England, and the officious company representative! These geniuses manage to trap themselves in the mine immediately on entering it, and spend the rest of the movie moving about various catacombs, which all look like the same one because they probably were! Ha ha, the sets are sometimes convincing, and at other times sport a distinctly canvassy look!
I don’t want to be too hard on the picture, though! It was made by a group of students, and I always like it when students take it upon themselves to mass their resources and produce a genre feature! (Ha ha, I’m looking at you, Dark Star!) And the movie becomes more effective as it wears on, and the trappees become ever more aware of the direness of their situation! It should be noted that some people really do like this picture, and though I can’t say I’m one of them, their position is worth considering!
Much of the affection drizzled over this below-ground affair is aimed at the goober monster, which is a stop-motion ‘mungus who looks a close cousin to the carpet-based spacefarers of The Creeping Terror! But as I say, it’s stop motion, and I’ll always give a pixillated critter like this the time of day, ha ha, even if we don’t see it nearly as much as might be preferred! That goes along with my general complaint that the picture lacks pep! Yes, as so often, here is a movie which could really use some exploitive elements and the willingness to employ them brazenly! Well, at least the death of the company man, who goes bozo a la Fred C. Dobbs and becomes the human bad guy, gets the hideous foaming he deserves!
It’s not the best movie in any of the categories in which it might be fitted into, and in fact, ha ha, in some of those categories it might be the worst! But no 80s low-budget horror completest should fear watching the movie - you may love it, you may not, but the odds are you’ve wasted your time with much direr cinema than this! I give The Strangeness one and a half foaming fits!

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