Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: Munchies (1987)

Did you know that once upon a time there was a little movie known as Gremlins. It was Joe Dante's most well known film and became iconic as the sort of horror film that could be used to bring your kids into the genre without giving them too many nightmares. Considering I once dreamed I was having a conversation with Chucky while he stabbed me repeatedly in the left leg (just above the knee), it shouldn't come as any surprise that I wasn't one of the kids who got tip-toed into horror. I dove in head first and felt my way around. Gremlins is also a very important movie because it was also a mainstream success, bringing in people who might not approach horror normally.

The sequel also had one of the greatest cameos of all time.

But, as with any success, there are going to be those that try to ride on the coattails of that success. Today we have The Asylum, masters of taking big budget movies and making very low budget rip-offs of them to try and capitalize on the bigger film (see: Atlantic Rim, Snakes on a Train, The Day the Earth Stopped, The DaVinci Treasure, etc). This isn't a new practice though, as it happened in the 80s to Gremlins. People saw how well it did and decided to try making their own little monster movies. We got some good ones (Critters and Ghoulies spring to mind) and then we got some that were so blatant that you can't help but wonder how they got away with it. That brings us to Munchies, a film that no one should be surprised to find out has Roger Corman's name attached to it. Not just him though, but also Harvey Korman, who you would assume bears some some relation to him.

After all, Korman has also had his name attached to some rather infamous film work.
Anyway, our film centers on a father and son who are in Machu Pichu looking for evidence of aliens having been in Peru many moons ago and the son is less than enthused about the whole thing as he misses his girlfriend and enjoys telling bad jokes more than being an archaeologist. They comb through what little of the ruins the film's budget could afford to build and find a small creature in a brown robe. Is it a baby Jawa? Or maybe an even tinier minion from Phantasm? Nah, it's probably the Gizmo of our film, as it sounds cute and often repeats what they say in a cute way. They bring the little guy home with them where the girlfriend is waiting to pick them up at the airport. They drive to their house where the father's evil twin is spying on them with microphones and the son names the little guy Arnold. The girlfriend observes that Arnold digs snacks, thus dubs him a munchie.

He also likes porn too, but we'll stick with the less offensive monicker.
The dad makes the terrible decision to leave his son with the creature while he goes to meet a professor who may be interested in the little guy, making a deal that if he does a good job he can go be a comedian but if he screws up he's got to go to college. Uncle sleaze tries to talk his brother into selling his land, which doesn't go through as he takes off. After giving Arnold a porn magazine, the young couple decide to take a cue from him and go rub their genital regions together. Meanwhile the evil uncle next door takes his stepson, who is actually named Dude, and makes him join him in breaking into the house and stealing the little munchie to force the brother to sell his land. I cannot possibly see how this will go badly. After capturing Arnold, the evil uncle shows he's about as smart as his brother and leaves Dude in charge of watching the one of a kind creature while he go picks up his wife. Arnold and Dude don't really get along and, after some fighting, Dude cuts the poor little guy in half. This results in both halves growing into more munchies and now Arnold can not only talk better but he's got a gang of wise-cracking horny buddies to back him up. So, what sort of adorable shenanigans will they get up to?

They murder Dude.
Oh, those little scamps! Seriously, that up there is actually Dude's death scene. They turn his music up so loud it kills him while also seeming to make him to jizz his pants from the overabundance of rock. Truly, he was the voice of a generation. The munchies also grab a shotgun and start shooting at things, like the son and girlfriend, because fuck them for not letting Arnold watch. She distracts them with some sort of sexual display and he traps them in a trashcan with the shotgun. Surprisingly, they utilize the shotgun in their escape and steal Dude's car. Sounds like this is a job for a chase scene! But that doesn't stop the munchies from trying to be funny.

Remember not to light up, kids! One of them warns it causes cancer. This is rated PG, so surely this is a kids movie.
They get into a road battle with an old lady who seems to carry small explosives with her at all times and then they wreck some bikers, because they aren't very big fans of Sons of Anarchy. Eventually this leads to them finding some girls in the lake, so they take it upon themselves to live up to their horny natures and introduce themselves. Our idiot heroes show up after dealing with the local idiot cop and save the girls from being groped by puppets and the uncle ends up back at his place to find his fish are dead! Oh, and his stepson too. This means he wants the munchies dead (for the fish, not the stepson) and he decides the best way to go about this is by doing everything he can to fuck up for the rest of the film. And remember, he stole Arnold just so he could get his brother to sell his land. Totally worth it, right? We get more stupidity from the heroes and villains, Robert Picardo drops in to get attacked and offer a direct link to Joe Dante, as he was in a few of his films. Let's just fast forward here.

Oh no, the bad movie found us!

The young couple discovers that the munchies are actually ancient statues that were brought to life with "fire of the gods" and the town ends up being terrorized during their big July 4th celebration. Stupid cop's dad shows up to be a bigger idiot and the young idiot cop teams up with the wanna-be comedian and his girlfriend as they follow the munchies into underground tunnels. The cop gets knocked out, of course, and the girl gets chased by the little horndogs. The young hero fights them off by his self, discovering the electricity turns them into statues that are easily smashed, and in the aftermath it's discovered that the uncle uses poisonous toxic materials to make his food he sells in his stores. He gets arrested, the father sells the statue to the professor, the son gets to be a shitty comedian, it's implied the munchie is brought back to life, then the credits roll and I can be happy it's over.

Good job deciding not to smash that last statue. The world really needs a sequel to this masterpiece.

It's not the worst movie and is really entertaining sometimes with how over the top goofy it can be, but ultimately this is not a movie I want to watch again too often. I remember it from my childhood but can't say I recall it being a favourite, which makes me feel good to know I had decent taste even back then. Harvey Korman is extremely over the top as the uncle, playing a villain who you would swear is from a Saturday morning cartoon that Hanna-Barbera made. The other actors all...are there. Really, there are no real stand-out performances from anyone, unless you count the humourous scenes with Picardo. There is clearly a reason this is a mostly forgotten film, so while it isn't the worst I cannot really recommend it either.

It also got two sequels aimed at kids with a much more horrifying creature that the horror movie gave us.

As a rip-off it is probably on the bottom of the barrel as the worst one, not having the charm that Critters or Ghoulies had with their creatures. I mean, just look at that picture above. This movie was so bad that they made sequels that had nothing at all to do with it. That's the legacy of Munchies. If you want to see Harvey Korman, I'd recommend the Star Wars Holiday Special before I'd recommend this. So, until MVM: Munchie vs. Munchies comes out starring the reanimated corpse of Dom DeLuise, I'll be here being your friendly neighborhood smart-ass who talks about whatever. Later days, bleeders.

I WILL MUNCH ON YOUR SOUL.

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