This is not going to be a fun week at work for me, due to the normal end of the year stuff I have to deal with, plus all of the additional responsibilities that I have to take care of this week. So the only way I know to best prepare for something like that is to spend the morning watching a cheesy monster movie. Now today’s movie is one that I remember seeing years ago as a kid but I never knew the name of it. Fast forward a decade or two, and I see this monster again in a clip while watching Attack Of The 50 Foot Monster Mania on AMC. So now I had a name for the movie, but it would still be a couple of years before I would actually pick it up on DVD. So here is to Denmark’s only foray into the giant movie business, Reptilicus.
The plot: In Denmark, a mining team, led by Svend Viltorft, are using a drill to dig down into the earth but when the pull the drill out, they find it covered in some strange flesh and tissue that is still bleeding. The make a call on the radio and are soon joined by Prof. Otto Martens and Dr. Peter Dalby, as well as a journalist, and the two scientists tell Svend that there is a layer of icy sludge under the ground that preserved the creature but the heat of the drill caused the piece they dug into to heat up, causing it to bleed. They take the pieces of flesh and bone to the aquarium in Copenhagen, where they begin to study them. When Svend brings up some more bone fragments, they theorize that the creature would be 90-100 feet long at least. Keeping the fragment of the creature’s tail in the freezer for study, Otto has a man named Petersen stay at the aquarium to keep watch on things during the night and make sure that the freezer temperature stays consistent. Otto invites Svend to stay with him and his daughters, Lise and Karen, and the two girls quickly grab Svend by the arms and escort him out to the car. Meanwhile, Peter decides to stay late and tells Petersen that he will watch things in the lab but that night, Peter falls asleep at his desk and is unaware that the freezer door did not latch closed the last time he went in there, causing the door to open. The next day, Otto and Lise arrive to find Peter asleep at his desk and the tail has now thawed out and started to not only heal, but to grow. Otto invites American scientist Connie Miller and Brigadier General Mark Grayson to attend a press conference he is having on the creature, where he explains what is happening and the aspects of the creature’s regeneration. At a suggestion from one of the reporters, Otto agrees to calling the creature Reptilicus. As time passes, Reptilicus continues to grow, albeit in what the scientist’s believe is a controlled manner. When Petersen sees movement in the chamber Reptilicus is being held in, he sounds the alarm to bring everyone there but Otto looks into the chamber and sees nothing wrong. Mark is unhappy about being assigned to guard Reptilicus but at the suggestion of Capt. Brandt, his liaison with the Danish Royal Guard, he agrees to go into town to see the sights and invites Connie to join him. That night, a storm knocks out the power to the aquarium and Peter, who is working late again, hears a noise coming from Reptilicus’s chamber. Seeing the creature has begun growing and unable to call for help, Peter sends Petersen to get the police while he takes a gun and heads for the chamber. After Petersen convinces the police to call for help, Otto, Mark, Connie, and Lise head to the aquarium and find no sign of Reptilicus or Peter. Mark begins organizing the city’s forces to handle when the creature shows up next. When Reptilicus destroys a farm house and kills several cows, Mark, Brandt, and Svend head out with the Royal Guard and confront the creature. When their bullets have no effect on the creature, and it attacks another farm house, they are eventually able to drive it away with a flamethrower. Using some of the equipment from the aquarium to search underwater, Mark has a ship searching the area that Otto suggested in hopes of finding Reptilicus. When they find it, the ship starts using depth charges to attack it while it is still recuperating. Otto, hearing the explosions from his lab, heads down to the pier to try and stop them but has a heart attack on the boat. Back at the control room, Connie convinces Mark to stop the attack, as any piece of Reptilicus that is blown off would regenerate into a new creature. Mark reluctantly calls off the attack, but not before one of Reptilicus’s feet had been blown off, and when they learn about what happened to Otto, Mark has Connie take Lise to the hospital. After two weeks of quiet, Reptilicus resurfaces and begins attacking and sinking ships at sea. When Reptilicus finally comes ashore, he heads straight towards Copenhagen and Mark is limited by what he can use against the monster, due to the acidic slime that Reptilicus is spitting from it’s mouth, as well as the risk of civilian casualties. Brandt manages to get the creature to briefly turn away from the city but when some of his men fire on the creature as it nears them, attracting the Reptilicus’s attention back to the city. Mark wants to risk using bombs on the creature but Otto shows up and tells them they can’t or they risk having hundreds of creatures to deal with instead of one. Otto is given a sedative to rest and Mark gets an idea of using a sedative on the creature to immobilize it so they can destroy it completely. Mark, Svend, Connie, and Lise head to the university to get the drugs, which Mark has loaded into a bazooka shell. When they tell Brandt their plan, he is concerned as there doesn’t seem to be any way to pierce the creature’s armored skin but Mark says he plans on shooting the creature in the mouth. With the creature heading towards the town square, Mark and the others head there and get in position to attack it. When the creature turns to chase after an ambulance that drives by, Brandt gets in a jeep and drives straight at the creature, causing it to turn back to the square but sacrificing his life in the process. Mark manages to fire the bazooka into Reptilicus’s mouth, and the creature is eventually knocked out. As Mark and Connie look out at the city, Mark says”It’s a good thing there’s no more like him”, unaware of the foot at the bottom of the ocean, which appears to be regenerating.
Reptilicus met with heavy criticism from the critics, holding a 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, many of the critics criticized the poor special effects used in the movie. The movie was originally made for a Danish audience but had to undergo major reworks in order to be released in the US, one of which involved cutting a scene showing Reptilicus flying to attack another town. The American director, Sydney Pink, considered making a remake of the film in 2001, due to the box office hit of the 1998 remake of Godzilla (ugh), but the project was cancelled following his death in 2002.
This is one of those horribly bad movies that could be considered entertaining. The acting was incredibly stiff and just seemed completely unemotional most of the time. The story itself was pretty interesting, with the idea of the monster able to regenerate like a starfish being a neat way to bring a prehistoric monster back to life. However, I didn’t particularly care for the side plot of Petersen being used as comedic relief, as it honestly felt out of place at times, and I also didn’t like the weird romance angle for Mark, as it kept seeming to bounce between Connie or Lise as to who he should be attracted to. The special effects were definitely on the low end of the cost spectrum, with the “acidic slime” looking terrible when it appears on screen next to people or when it is shot out of Reptilicus’s mouth, not to mention the lousy movements of the monster. All the criticism aside, this movie makes for some excellent fodder if you want to riff (or MST3K) a movie and not feel bad.
Rating: 2 out of 5