If you know me like I do then you've no doubt heard umpteen stories about my notorious, infamous, and highly entertaining Uncle Gary. A tall thin drink of water resembling a mix of Count Floyd and Pete Townshend with a greaser pomp and sideburns. 'Twas this great man who had not only seen but "shot the Jersey Devil", who walked arms at sides into the railing of a backyard deck to flip head first over it and fall six feet to the ground only to stand up, dust off, and blame the feat on a patch of rogue ice on the deck. An accusation of rogue ice made downright spectacular by the fact that this Super Dave Osbourne act occurred during a 4th of July barbecue!! A few more of my beloved Unc's greatest hits: my cousins' cat gets flapjacked in the street directly in front of their house, Aunt Donna suggests amongst the kiddies' sobbing that he deal with it. How does Gary deal? Well he strolls outside, into the road, pulls up what's left of Tinkerbell or Jasper or whatever that damned cat's name was by its tail and promptly whips it around with the arm of an Olympic slow pitch champ and sails it straight into a tree top right on the side of the road. Walks back into the house and then tells my cousin who has hysterically witnessed all of this that in fact the cat was "taken up there by a giant spider". Uhhhhhh!? There was the Thanksgiving where me and my two brothers got a little overzealous tossing around a toy football in the living room and accidently chucked it right into the roaring fireplace. Gary to the rescue! Unblinking, unflinching Gary staggers over to the contained inferno, reaches right into the flames and retrieves a molten mess of what was moments before our football. Arm hairs glowing orange and the air stinking of burnt Gary and Nerf he then proceeds to blow the smoldering ball out and hand it back to my brother who upon the gesture shoved both hands into his pockets and says "WHOAH!" Notice I said "Gary staggers". I wanna inform you at this point in the tale that my uncle's oft beverage of choice was a PBR emptied into a 22oz plastic cup and then topped off with what I think I can recall as vodka of the plastic bottle variety. In short, Gary could par-tay. Ok one more really quick before we get to our movie. I'm staying over my cousin's house, my aunts out and Garys left to watch us. Uh oh Spaghetti-O's! Gary watching us usually consisted of us watching him watch television and get bent up like a beach chair in a typhoon. Unc gets tired of our monkey shines in a hurry and orders us upstairs where we're "not to make any noise for the rest of the evening". Sounds like a dare to us. Once exiled we quietly devise a plan to send a near life size creepy roller skating doll they own called "Baby Skates" careening down the stairs to see if we can get a rise out of Gar-bear. Once Baby Skates made it to the bottom of the steps with some amount of crashing and banging what we got was a beheaded Baby Skates sent flying right back up the staircase at us! That message my friends was received loud and clear. Pin drop silence the rest of that night.
I could lay down at least another forty tales from vault of Uncle Gary but the main reason I'm bringing this gent up is that he was pretty instrumental in shaping my taste for distasteful movies. See my aunt and uncle had cable long before my parents so I used to end up over their house a lot on weekends watching stuff I had no business watching. I can remember the first time I ever watched Halloween was on a beat to pieces VHS tape that they had copied the gem off of cable onto. Great stuff like Creepshow, Hamburger the Motion Picture, Phantasm, Prophecy, Cujo, and Salems' Lot, to name a select few, were first viewed by my young eyes under the furrowed brow of my Uncle. Somebody bless'em!
You know how there are supposedly "Elvis people" and "Beatles people"? Or like "'Stones people" or "The Who people"? Yeah I kinda buy it 'cause I love Elvis but detest the Beatles. Rolling Stones and The Who? I'll give it to The Who but I like 'em both. Of this I AM sure, there are indeed "Godzilla people" and "King Kong" people. These two icons started many a debate between me and Gary. Picture an 11 year old me in big mean greens' corner and whatever image you've painted yourself of my uncle fighting out of the corner covered in back hair. Always a reptile man and thus certain to back Godzilla, a typical conversation between me and Kong supporter Gary would sound like this, "Godzilla is 400 feet tall and breathes blue radioactive fire! If he didn't just stomp on King Kong he would set his hair all on fire and burn him up!" "Cristopher listen, Godzillas brain is the size of an olive, King Kong's brain is at least the size of my own. Bigger brain will win that fight!" When he and I finally sat down to watch King Kong vs. Godzilla for the first time together..well you can't imagine the tension. That friggin' movie ruined my life for awhile. In its' finale King Kong emerges from the sea after quite ambiguously defeating Godzilla. Gary's monster triumphs and I am shattered. I later informed Gary that in the Japanese film version it is of course the hometown boy who beats the living bananas out of the lame ape and celebrates a clear cut victory. Gary's response "too bad this is America". Again, somebody bless'em!
Humongous released in 1982 was Gary's all time favourite movie. He talked about this one ALL the time and it was "just the best" and "it had everything". Sadly I never got to see Humongous with Gary and by that I mean I actually DID see it with him but not really 'cause when you watch this damn movie you can't really see anything because two thirds of it are shot in total darkness! Yeah Humongous had it all alright, less one important thing in it's budget called LIGHTING! I later found out that the one thing this obscure movie was at all known for was its' extreme absence of lighting. Maybe PBR and vodka enhances vision 'cause Gary sure didn't seem to mind.
So...Labor Day weekend back in '46 on the quaint little Dog Island some hobnob Canadians are having themselves quite the shin dig. One of the women at the festivities is being drooled/sweat all over by this guy who looks like Harry Anderson from tv's Night Court. She rebuffs this less than gentlemanly glandular goon and makes the mistake she needs to advance the story, she runs off into the woods alone. She's of course followed by Mr. Persistent who takes it upon himself to get REALLY romantic by slapping the macaroni salad out of her and forcing her into a little of the Labor Day on Dog Island woods romping. In great close up we get to this sweaty clods face as he does his thing whilst smoking a cigarette and mumbling something about this or that. Then outta nowhere one of the many ravenous dogs that populate the island shows up and rips the guys neck open. While he's then laying there doing a herky jerk death twitch and begging the woman he just raped for help she forgivingly takes a cinderblock and blasts a pint of Smucker's preserves out of his face with it. Humongous!
Flash forward thirty odd years and we get six dink twenty-somethings pleasure boating around in the fog off the coast of the very same island from our preface. I forget the characters' names but for brevity's sake and because a few of them actually looked like the members of the Scooby Doo gang we'll call those three Fred, Velma, and Daphne. The other three are Fred's brother, Fred's model wannabe girlfriend, and some guy they just happen to come across floating in the water for no reason. Fred's brother is a real party animal who runs around on the deck of the boat slamming beers and playing with a shotgun and who in true Uncle Gary fashion, gets blasted to the bejesus belt and decides to skipper the ship straight into some big pointy rocks. Now I'm not sure when boats were ever made of balsa wood cured in kerosene but this friggin' thing explodes faster than you can say "did they just put a firecracker in a toy boat and shoot it close up?" Luckily or maybe not, all six passengers make it off in time to swim safely to the shores of......take a wild guess.
While we're at it take another guess at what became of our lovely party guest from reel one. You know the young woman who had some unrequited hibbity-dibbity put on her by the sweat hog hood who ended up as puppy chow? If your answer is that she put it all behind her, moved off Dog Island to the British Columbia mainland and started a successful custom teddy bear building shop well then I'm sorry. Here's a hint though, she becomes a shut in recluse, stays on the island alone with her mongoloid child spawned out of the rough love, raises him up to be a vengeful seven foot tall mongo-man, then dies leaving him to fend for himself alone and angry on the island that the six Scooby dinky dorks are now stranded on! Things may have gone better for him and the castaways had mongo man not chosen to eat all of the dogs on Dog Island but what's an abandoned, confused, overgrown cave dude to do for his three hots? It's the familiar formula from then on. Dumb annoying kids lost on island + giant sized, blood thirsty man beast = Humongous. Soon enough we're treated to the standard stalk and slash (in this case smash and bash) fare that we're used to. Mongo man starts busting through shed doors Randy Savage style only instead of snapping into nasty ass beef by-product treats he's more into snapping neck vertebrae and femur bones through dim teen flesh. I know I said before that this movie is quite dark in the literal sense throughout and it boasts a synth score that pretty much sounds like who ever recorded it had no sense of tone nor actual fingers on either hand AND I'm totally one for obscuring the bad guy beastie until the moment is just right but DANG!! Humongous takes it to a new level and that level is lowwwww! Mongo is only ever shown in silhouette and in that light totally DOES look like Macho Man Savage. His oh so terrifying visage is only ever glimpsed once at the films dreary climax and thats after he's been set ablaze, put out and then impaled with a sign post. By then folks the titular character in Humongous' face is pretty much a 10 lb. burnt marshmallow with a bright blue SuperBall stuck in it. A sigh, a die, the lone survivor (Daphne) stares off a dock, end credits and horrible music roll. Humongous!
This thing is of course derivative of a hundred horror films before it and though wild island marshmallow head caveman is an interesting angle, in the end poor pretty-much-everything does Humongous in. Maybe if you're a genre completist, a masochist or just wanna know what my Uncle Gary considered a damn fine film you'll decide to visit Dog Island for yourself but don't say you weren't warned! So here's to Gary, hopefully at this writing, sneaking into that great drive-in in the sky! Pop* hiss* glug glug glug! Miss ya man.
"Humongous! It's loose! It's angry! And It's hungry!" Seemingly for Slim Jims, OOOOOHH YEAAAHHH!!!