Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Milpitas Monster - 1976

I'm extending my viewing sources a little bit and taking in some movies from Amazon Instant Video.  I get it through my Prime membership free anyways, and they have a bunch of stuff Netflix doesn't have, and I can watch it at work instead of working, so why not?  Netflix used to work at work, but now it won't even load pictures let alone movies.
I also apologize for not updating recently, I was on vacation for 8 days and meant to watch bad movies while I was gone, but simply never did.  Oh well, I doubt anyone missed me anyway.

The Milpitas Monster is what is literally known as an amateur film.  The fact is that this movie was created by high school students, teachers, and residents of Milpitas, and none of them are "actors" or "directors" or anything related to film in the traditional sense.  For that being said, some other very well known films are also amateur, Manos the Hands of Fate is very well known for example.  There are a handful of other films that went down as being well known amateur films, and here are my rules for that classification:
1) The director must have no other films, shorts, direct to video, or any other things that they created before.
2) Lead actors must be unprofessional - in other words not have any filmography.  The only exception to this is when someone throws enough money at a project to hire someone kind of well known.
3) Usually this will all go hand in hand with super low budget, extremely bad acting, and high cheese factor - but exceptions do exist.

The Milpitas Monster hits all three of these rules right on, and is horrendously bad.  The director has done zero besides this movie, the actors have all done zero, and no one associated with this movie ever made one penny off of it most likely.  But they weren't trying to either, and this is one of those rare movies where most likely it wasn't made to be shown to the public in general, and thus we must accept that it wasn't made to entertain US, the moviegoing critics and public.  We must give it some points for that.

My best guess and my research online tells me that this started when Milpitas (a town located in the South Bay Area, California, about 6 miles away from San Jose, CA) started to be overwhelmed by trash problems in the 70's, big campaigns were launched to get people to start rethinking their trash problems, and a big dump was made somewhere, etc.

Somewhere in all that, the high school made posters for a "monster" that would emerge from the dump, should you throw away things that were not trash, or not separate your recycling, or something like that.  This became so popular that the city gave the high school money, and someone thought to make a movie about this monster; capitalizing on the fame of the thing in this (at the time) small town craze that had caught on.  So, they got the official blessing from the city council or whatever, they got some more money, and the cooperation of police, firemen, and locals, and they started to make a movie!

The movie itself is amateur, like I said.  Lighting, acting, effects, and sounds are all bad.  The whole film feels like a lot of fun, however.  They interjected some bad comedy trying to make it fun, and it's ridiculous to watch, but somehow you know that making the film, watching it in the town square or whatever the fuck they did, that whole thing must've been awesome.  It's one of those movies that doesn't matter that it's bad, it wasn't supposed to be serious.

The monster also does look cool, which I will give points for.  It's very obvious they just had a guy in a suit standing closer to the camera to appear bigger than things far away, it's painful when they use poor miniatures and stop motion animation.  It's all bad bad bad, but made to be bad.  So is it so bad it's good?  Wellllll....Not really.  It hasn't aged very well and it's not very easy to watch, unfortunately.  For me at least.  My mind tends to wander and this movie was extremely hard to put on and not get distracted by something else.

All in all, it was very interesting to see the town of Milpitas represented as a flat, barely existing place that was laid back and slow paced.  Nowadays, Milpitas is indistinguishable from the rest of those towns in the South Bay, and being a resident of Oakland, CA, I can tell you that it looks nothing like how it looks in the film.  That has to be the most interesting part of the movie.  So, in other words, it's not especially good.

It's going to be a hard one to rate, and a lot of people online love it.  I couldn't say exactly why, for some people it is so bad it's good, and for some it's just wacky.  For me, the wackiness was TOO wacky that it tried too hard, and the badness factor was so intentional and overdone it just made me roll my eyes.  So I have to give it a low rating.  One star.


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