Time for a classic creature feature film. This one doesn’t exactly do anything new with the genre and will feel quite familiar as you watch it. That being said, it still plays out fairly well and I was pleasantly surprised when the dog actually made it out okay. We had a tricky scene involving a giant wasp where fortunately the effects were quite bad. It’s a fun film, but you do have to throw logic out the window quite a few times.
The film revolves around Donald. He’s a professor who likes to research prehistoric animals on the side. The giant fish that he ordered a while back finally comes in. Donald figures that since it’s dead he has nothing to worry about so he puts his hand in the things mouth, but suddenly it bites him. Turns out that dead animals still have muscle memory and now Donald is doomed to turn into a crazed monster as long as the blood is in contact with Donald’s bloodstream. Fortunately, it only lasts for about 15-20 minutes, but he likes smoking and won’t let monster blood stop him either. He keeps turning into a monster so does Donald secretly enjoy the power or is he simply inept?
You do have to wonder why Donald is so bad at his job. Why would you carry this rare fish around by the mouth? Aren’t you worried it’ll break and you’ll have wasted all of your money. Once he gets bit, Donald also makes the worst decisions possible. There is a sink/faucet right in the room. The cameramen weren’t quick enough to get it out of the shot so I saw it, but in universe he doesn’t seem to notice. Instead Donald puts his hand in the dirty water surrounding the fish. Doesn’t he know that if you contaminate a cut like that you are putting yourself in serious danger? That can even be lethal depending on the bacteria in the water. Not noticing that there was blood in his cigar pipe was also a little laughable.
Even Donald’s plan to get evidence for himself wasn’t great. He goes to a cabin and gets a bunch of cameras, but what’s to stop his monster self from destroying them? Somehow the cameras stay in tact, but he didn’t think it over very well and didn’t even tie himself up so breaking out of the chair was easy. I won’t get into the ending, but it was another pretty iffy decision. Self sacrifice for the greater good can always be a pretty emotional thing to do and you typically can’t fault the hero for it since it’s usually the right thing to do. That being said, going that route when it is not even remotely necessary is another matter. Donald just wanted the easy way out.
The main reason why the film lasts so long is because everyone wants to keep secrets. Two students found out about how the blood from the fish was turning everything into a giant monster, but Donald told them to keep quiet. Donald thought about telling everyone else, but then realized that he would look guilty so he decided to keep it quiet. The kids finally tell someone, but unfortunately they go to Madeline (the main heroine) who has a vested interest in making sure that nobody else knows about it so she goes to the cabin on her own. If the cops had been informed from the start, they would have been in a much better position.
Of course, the cops don’t look great the whole time. Keep in mind that even when Donald transforms he is not all that powerful. Physically he is stronger to be sure, but he’s not super fast or anything and a bullet will still take him down. The guard still doesn’t to notice him in time though since he was on the phone and even when he could fire off a shot he just panics and stares at the gun. Truly a rookie mistake.
On that note, the ending was a little humorous in an unintentional way as the monster shows up again. Everyone very clearly tells the cop not to shoot him, but he just laughs and shoots anyway. There is no wy he didn’t hear them in time so he was just shooting because he felt like it. The guy was definitely quick on the trigger for once and I think the stress of the case finally got to him.
You’ll feel bad for the poor park ranger though. He was just trying to help save the main heroine, but he gets a pretty grim fate when he tries to go up against Donald. Another lady also get destroyed near the beginning. The film made sure to portray her as a very morally dubious individual so you knew she was going to die, but dying of fright is still so unbelievable to me. I get that it is possible, but in this particular situation I just don’t think it would be valid.
As for the animals part, the dog was the first one to be infected as he turned vicious. I was nervous because you can never trust these old films when the dog is involved. Fortunately the effect wears off as an old guy breaks into Donald’s lab to test that out and the dog gets away without a scratch. A bunch of close calls with that one, but he got the last laugh. The transformed wasp was probably a lot scarier since it actually turned huge as opposed to simply growing fangs. I don’t think the humans should have captured him so easily though since he supposedly moves at lightning fast speeds, but didn’t even try to escape as they threw a net over it. Plot convenience and all.
The film was just enjoyable though. The dialogue was sharp as you’d expect from the good ole days. The cops were fairly direct in their accusations the whole time as well. You can’t really feel any sympathy for Donald since he isn’t a good main character and kept making the wrong calls, but at least he would always run off rather than defend himself when the other characters were tearing his theories apart. Running up the school bill with a super long foreign call was a little short sighted though as it didn’t help win him any favors with the principal.
Overall, Monster on the Campus is a decent film. It has its moments and the time will go by pretty quickly while you’re watching. It’s just not a very realistic film and I’m not talking about the giant monsters and sci-fi aspects. I mean that Donald keeps falling for the same tricks over and over again to the point where you just have to shake your head. There is no way you should transform 3 different times by mistake. He just wasn’t likable regardless. So if you haven’t checked this film out yet, I’d recommend it. It’s fairly obscure so you can brag about seeing a film that many have not.