Attack of the Beast Creatures (1985)
Updated: Mar 28
In May, 1920, a handful of survivors from a sinking ocean liner escape in a lifeboat and eventually wash up on an uncharted island. On dry land, they move away from the shore, looking for food and water, and protection from the elements.
One of the group finds a freshwater spring. He runs to it, dunks his head into the crystalline water and immediately comes out screaming, his face melting away. It was not water. It was acid!
Early on the uneasy feeling that anything can happen to anyone at any time creeps in. This ain't Gilligan's Island.
Before long, the island's indigenous population of mini-monsters attack. The biting, scratching, chewing creatures are relentless, running around, swinging from vines, frantically attacking and frenziedly tearing the tender flesh of the survivors to shreds. It's like an island inhabited by a tribe of that Zuni Fetish doll from Trilogy of Terror.
The movie is one long assault, and the little monsters chew their way through the dwindling ranks of the survivors as they try to get back to their lifeboat. They leave a trail of skeletons stripped of all flesh and organs behind in their wake.
For anyone who loves low-budget, truly independent regional horror films, Attack of the Beast Creatures is a total delight. It is a non-stop creature feature that plays for keeps.
Shot on 16mm in Connecticut around 1983, director Mike Stanley and writer Robert Hutton concocted this mad monster party for pennies. Making it a period film was kind of ingenious, since they just needed costumes and the island setting took care of the rest. (They sell it easy enough.)
The cast is good and do the best with what they have. You can tell who came from the Community Theater, as some characters are boisterous, making sure the people in the back row can hear them.
As for the island monsters, they are simple and nightmarish. They are a wonderful addition to the mini-monster genre of the mid '80s, falling somewhere between Gremlins and Ghoulies. (Where they impress is when they are running at high speed through the jungle. It is cartoonish, but it works.)
Some may laugh at the attack scenes, particularly when the survivors are attacked, each cast member standing with creatures attached to them and struggling, but it
is way more satisfying than any kind of CGI monster attack in movies today.
Attack of the Beast Creatures evidently found its way to VHS (and possibly limited theatrical play) but I don't remember ever running across it. That's a shame too. Just on this first viewing, I put it up there with Douglas McKeown's The Return of the Aliens Deadly Spawn. I don't suggest that the effects are on the same level as McKeown's film, but the spirit of both films is certainly the same. They are low budget productions with blockbuster aspirations. If I would have run across this in my teens, I would have doubled it up with that film for a Saturday night VHS double feature. (For purists, the recent AGFA Blu-ray release preserves the VHS version as a special feature.)
Fellow indie-reg film fan and ICFH scribe JE Smith brought this one to my attention. Without his recommendation I might never have known this was out there.
If you can ever catch this movie with a crowd on the big screen, I recommend you go for it. It will be an evening you will not soon forget.
Independent, regional filmmaking has changed over the years, and this is a nice throwback to a time when inventive young people would march into the woods with film equipment, monster puppets and a couple jugs of red tinted Karyo syrup and make a horror flick!
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