It’s time for another retro film with monster in the title, but no actual creature to be found. That’s never a good sign and this is another film that’s not all that great. It tries its best to be spooky and intense, but annoying characters and sad moments end up making this another film with a lot that is left to be desired. Ah well, at least you can take solace in the fact that this proves an old guy really just needs some magic in order to get back into the world. Don’t look at that line too closely for spoiler purposes though.
The premise starts with three doctors visiting an old guy (Curt) that they were unable to help a while back. He is now crippled and may blame the doctors for his current condition. Nevertheless, he has invited them to his mansion in the middle of nowhere for some reason. These three men suspect nothing, but maybe they should. A psychiatrist by the name of Lynn also shows up as she was called by Margaret, Curt’s sister to prove that Margaret isn’t actually crazy. The girl knows more than she lets on, but the house maid tries to prevent Lynn from finding anything out.
Curt’s big revelation is that he has a mystic by the name of Agar who is able to summon bleeding skeletons back to life to do all sorts of things. They can create objects out of nothing, but these objects only last for a limited period of time. The plot thickens when one of the scientists die and then the body count starts to rise. Who is behind these deaths. Could it be one of the Doctors? Is it the mystery writer, Dick, or is it maybe the Butler? There is no shortage of suspects to be found here.
The whole thing could have been pretty interesting. The concept certainly isn’t bad and I do like a good murder mystery. This film just tried too hard to be edgy instead and digs its own grave. For starters, we have Lawrie. He’s your classic sexist character from the old days and he goes after a lady who doesn’t live past the first 20-30 minutes. She wants to get out of the house because it has gotten a little too dangerous, but she makes the mistake of heading back there after dark. The monster was ready by then along with the fact that her taxi driver was gullible and deserted her after he was told that she was going to spend the night. Did he really think that she would after she had gone to such lengths to escape?
Her dying isn’t really the terrible part. It was rather tragic, but it was handled all right. The main sad part is that initially Lawrie gave her a drive, but then quickly has his way with her before another guy happened to show up and get her out of the tough spot. Lawrie spends the rest of the film flirting with other characters and also attempts to get physical again when he is interrupted by Dick. Some of the characters know about his antics, but nobody speaks up about it. Lawrie eventually bites the dust, but his presence severely hurt the film.
Curt’s not a bad old man. He’s passive aggressive with the 3 scientists quite a lot and also tries to boss around his sister. I don’t think she should have gone for that since as siblings they should be roughly equal, but she is far too timid the whole time. She also knows a great deal about who the culprit is, but doesn’t help until it is far too late and at least 50% of the cast has already been bumped off. As you can tell, I didn’t care much for Margaret. Curt was fairly average. I didn’t really find him to be unreasonable. He can be a little generic, but that’s not too bad I suppose.
Rolf’s a fairly mean butler, but I’d expect nothing less. He should have certainly had Lawrie fired ages ago though so I doubt his credibility as a professional. He’s not really a bad character so you should definitely peg him as a suspect. There’s also Agar, the mystical fellow who can summon the skeletons. I found him to mostly just be annoying and he’s also someone that knows a lot about what is going on. He’s super suspicious and even if he is not guilty, you can really call him an accomplice.
Lynn was the “tough” female lead who talks back to Curt and tries not to get bossed around, but her attempts do not always work. Her romance with Dick is certainly pretty awful and considering that she seems to realize that everyone is trying to keep her away from Margaret, she should have made more of an effort to stay with her. By the time she acts, Margaret has already started to get a split personality and cracks in her memory. Lynn took way too long.
Dick’s the classic tough guy and you could call him the main character. His role isn’t as big as you would expect based on that title, but he’s completely full of confidence and that sets him apart from the rest. He’s your stereotypical lead in basically every way. He tries to be heroic and sees to it that justice is served. There’s not much to him, but that’s okay I suppose.
Finally, we actually do have a character that’s not just good, but great. This is Captain Beggs, the only character who talks tough to the whole cast. They passive aggressively try to get him to leave many times, but he just insults them and keeps on going. This guy isn’t having any of that and just about every one of his lines is hardcore. Even when he’s threatened with lines like “You and what army?” he always has a response ready. “Just me” Beggs doesn’t back down to anyone and while he may be a little slow to pick up on the clues sometimes, he’s always brave. He heads into shadowy closets without hesitation and since he is picking a fight with a rich guy who has influence, Beggs clearly doesn’t care about that either. He was a silver lining in a film that was rather dreadful otherwise.
At the very least, the film really tries its best to throw in a lot of red herrings so that the culprit isn’t too obvious. The ploys fail and you will probably guess who the main villain is within the first 10 minutes. The motive is simply too rich for the writers to pass up on even if the film does its best to try and make you doubt it. The film, while not overly long, also does a decent job of spreading time out between each murder so you can have the characters all show up again as you try to guess who is guilty. Tension is always crucial in these kinds of films so you want them to have time to run around and try to figure things out.
Overall, This film simply couldn’t stay classy. Lawrie single handily destroyed the film so blame him on its low score. If you can get past him then maybe you’ll enjoy this film, but I recommend checking out another classic murder mystery like And Then There Were None instead. Even if this film was all right, there are simply better options to choose from in the same genre so there is no point for you to be desperate enough to choose this one. The title is also just super misleading. I guess some films want to be “cool” by making the term monster rather figurative like in the new Cloverfield film, but it just doesn’t work for me. If you mention the word monster, then I’m going to be expecting something a little more epic. Also, the final scuffle should have not been so close, the heroes simply got sloppy. Finally, there was no real reason for the skeletons to bleed. That seemed to only be around so the characters could have clues to run with. There’s no logical reason for that to happen…it’s like the film just needed an excuse for it to occur so the film would have a gimmick. The problem is that the supernatural angle never transforms from a gimmick into something meaningful.