Monster High (1989)

Full discloser: I do, indeed, “rulez.”

When I picked up Monster High on the cheap, I was expecting a film about Universal Monsters-esque type creatures in their younger state; surviving high school. You know, easy stuff. The Wolf Man playing basketball, Frankenstein’s Monster being ashamed that he’s failing science, gags like that. Cutesy stuff made for children. Monster High isn’t playing by that rulebook.

In fact, it’s tough to figure out what rulebook it’s playing by or if there’s even been a rulebook considered in the past. It starts off with the “Syridium Damianus Hectophantasmigon,” i.e. “the Monster in Charge” (Bob Cady) learning that the Earth, on a list of doomed planets, still hasn’t been destroyed. Angry, he calls upon his secretary to find out just what Mr. Armageddon (David Marriott), the demon charged with destroying the Earth, has been doing. This office scene playing out like an outtake from the BBC’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy mini-series. Only this time there’s boobs on display.

Boobs which make this film very tough to get a grasp on. On the one hand, it is a hyper-intelligent, self-referencing script, wallowing in genre cliches just to show it can. Two comic relief demons dressed like Crash Test Dummies, Dume (Robert M. Lind) and Glume (Sean Haines), illustrate this perfectly. But the boobs! Right at the beginning, alerting you that no matter how smart this film seems, it still isn’t safe for kids.

A horror film for kids that’s not for kids at all. Think Teen Wolf with a healthy dose of Porky’s. One wonders if Lightyear Entertainment was trying to horn in on Troma’s Class of Nuke ’em High market, with a more slapstick sensibility.

(A quick perusal of the internet confirms my suspicions. While I couldn’t find any information on the origins of the film, or the brains behind it, I did find out Monster High was a staple on USA’s Up All Night. A fact that makes me so sad that I never saw it when I was growing up…)

So Mr. Armageddon is tasked with destroying the Earth. Unfortunately, the men charged with stealing the doomsday device, Dume and Glume, lose it immediately afterwards. They head to Earth to find it, while Armageddon rapes the Pep Squad. The only girl Armageddon can’t catch is Candice Caine (Diana Frank). Candice is dating Norm Median (Dean Iandoli), the movie’s hero, and thus her virtue is at a premium.

(I’m also insanely jealous that I can’t claim credit for pointing out that lead actress Diana Frank is horrible, yet still warranted an obvious body double for the topless scenes! Why not just cast the body double in the lead role?)

Which leads to some of the most inspired death scenes seen yet. Mutated tennis shoes that eat their wearers? Check. A “computer monster” who shoots electricity out its fingers? Another check. A giant marijuana plant that expands every time you hit it? This one could be the basis of a film on its own!

In an ending straight out of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, Norm and Candice challenge Mr. Armageddon to a basketball game; winner takes Earth. After a quick reprogramming of Computer Monster forces the robot to play for the wrong team, Norm and the humans win.

I’m not sure how moral it is to win via cheating, even when the Earth’s fate hangs in the balance, but mankind does gain another 1,000 years of peace and prosperity before Armageddon returns.

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