Shadow Creature

Over the next few months, I'll be turning my attention to horror films that have yet to make the jump to DVD. If you look at a list of VHS exclusives, the titles seem arbitrary. There is no rhyme or reason to the availability of certain movies, especially b-movies. The entire Troma library is at our fingertips, and yet, 1995's Shadow Creature will only be discovered by geeks insulated enough to dig through the grotty soot of cinematic landfills with willing (not to mention earth-daubed) hands. In other words, you need gobs of spare time. Virginity helps, although it's not a prerequisite. I'm getting carried away with myself. If you're not familiar with Shadow Creature, you would be forgiven for writing it off as z-grade spilth. I mean, look at the cover.

While it certainly has the spirit of bygone flotsam, it was concocted with an estimated budget of $300,000. Not too shabby. The cinematography is lustrous (well, relatively speaking), the creature effects are charming and unlike most modern day schlocktails, it was shot on location. I don't want to give the impression that Shadow Creature is indistinguishable from the studio-funded monster mashes that were being released the same year. Then again, it was 1995; The Mangler and Tales From the Hood were blessed with substantial stints in theaters. Nostalgia is one hell of a drug, no? My point remains sapient. This flick is too polished to scare off proxy posers, the domesticated types who wouldn't be caught dead renting Video Violence.

Contrarily, it's too campy to repel dyed-in-the-wool gorehounds, the iconoclastic types who wouldn't be caught dead at a midnight screening of, say, a pointless remake. Shadow Creature strikes a happy balance between "underground" and "mainstream." It's obvious that the cast and crew had a blast shooting this 50's-style throwback. The plot is informed by archetypal classics such as The Manster and The Hideous Sun Demon. We are introduced to Detective Brighton, a generic street tough assigned to a bizarre case. Bodies are piling up, and the main suspect is a 7-foot zebra mussel injected with hair restoration formula. Uh-huh. Imagine Savage Dragon (no, really) crossed with a black lizard. Oh, and he has a badass mohawk.

It goes without saying that the script dabbles in outlandish humor, but it never becomes an arrant parody. Director James Gribbons keeps one foot in the grave, so to speak. Overall, Shadow Creature is an easy watch. It doesn't ask much of the viewer, and in my opinion, the viewer should return the favor. Having said that, there are a slew of flagrant missteps. The acting is execrably stiff. I didn't give a flavored fuck about anyone, not even the obligatory mad scientist. Plus, the absence of nudity is alarming. I'll live. I'm just saying; I was alarmed. If you can find Shadow Creature, by all means, snatch it up. I bought my copy from Amazon because that's how I roll.

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