Monkey at the Movies
All the bananas you bring me get doled (knee slap) out here. Which films earn the most? Read on to find out…
I’ve been thinking about writing up more film reviews to post on my personal website. I’m sure some of these will be written sober and some…will not. It’s all very new, so I’ll have to play around a bit with the format. And you’d think, as a writer, I could come up with a pithy title all on my own. But, to quote K-Pop’s BTS, “Not today.” So thanks to my hubby extraordinaire for naming this new department at my website:
MONKEY AT THE MOVIES
And I can’t think of a better film to kick off this new endeavor than Rottentail (2019).
For the uninitiated, Rottentail is based on a graphic novel of the same name written by David C. Hayes, Kevin Moyers, and Kurt Belcher. I’ve known David IRL for quite a while now, and he and Kevin are two of the founders of Cinema Head Cheese (where I’ve been posting film reviews since 2011.) And though I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, I do give as honest reviews as I can, even in regard to my friends’ works. EVEN WHEN THEY SUCK.
Basically, if I don’t like a movie, I’ll say so, despite my real, or perceived, friendship with anyone involved.
Okay, now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get to the movie.
Rottentail is the story of Peter Cotten, a meek, nerdy little scientist working on a fertility serum at a secret government facility. His competitor, Dr. Serius Stanley, is mutating rabbits across the hall. The military mucky-mucks want super soldiers (when DON’T they?) and Stanley takes as much attention, and funding, away from Cotten as possible. When Peter discovers the horrid conditions of Stanley’s rabbits, he attempts to free the most mutated, and vicious, of the bunch. Naturally, the hairless abomination bites Peter, beginning a chain reaction in our hero that mutates him into a giant, killer man-rabbit.
I mean, what else were you expecting?
But it might have been a fortuitous accident. Peter’s childhood love interest, Anna, has returned to town to ask for Peter’s help. Seems that Jake Mulligan, Peter’s childhood nemesis turned religious leader, is planning to destroy Anna’s grandfather’s church in order to expand his ministry. The fact that Jake is still the douchiest douche bag to ever douche in Douchetown, makes it that much easier for Peter’s new identity, Rottentail, to step up and clean house.
And by clean house, I mean kill everything and everyone that gets in his way. Cue 90 minutes of madness and mayhem, and you’ve got the movie, Rottentail.
I went into this film anticipating I would be mostly entertained. For anyone who watches or reviews independent horror films on a regular basis (read: me) you learn not to set the expectation bar too high, you know what I mean? I’m happy to report that I was blown away – on nearly every level.
The story is pretty standard, as far as “man bitten by radioactive/mutated/alien life force and mutates into a monster” goes, but I love that it really commits to the comedic element. It’s a ridiculous premise, so why not run with it? The dialogue and one-liners are hysterical, and it’s one of those films you’ll need to watch a few times to catch every little aside and winkwink moment (the thimble and two blueberries line still has me giggling.) Even the tongue-in-cheek character names are worthy of a few chuckles (Peter Cotten, Serius Stanley, Anna Banana.)
From the mutant bunny, to blood spray and rolling heads, and even the makeup used to create Rottentail himself, the practical effects are perfection. One particular scene, with Jake Mulligan and how he deals with a loose end, was forever imprinted on my neurons. I will compare every similar death scene in all future movies to this one from now on.
The acting is top notch. William McNamara, as Jake Mulligan, plays such a good asshole; he’s one of those characters that you adore to hate, with every fiber of your being. There is nothing redeemable about Mulligan – at all – but he’s better that way. Gianni Capaldi, as Dr. Stanley, is another despicable character, who’s just slightly more loveable than Mulligan. I think it’s his accent. But the main attraction here is Corin Nemec as Peter/Rottentail. His geek-turned-monster-hero transformation is beautiful to behold. Corin OWNED that role, and made it his bitch. I have to say this is some of the best work I’ve seen him do over his decades-long career.
Though all of the above is wonderful, is Rottentail a perfect film? Hell no. The CGI effects were weak; some of the acting was a bit lackluster (I personally think Dominique Swain is capable of so much more than what I saw in this film); and a lot of the humor leans toward the 12-year-old boy demographic.
But those few things are really all the fault I can find here. This movie is not for everyone. The horror snobs or literary film folks are not the target audience. This is low-budget, low-brow, crude, rude, and ridiculous – but in the most entertaining way possible. I will be adding this fun ride of a film to my collection ASAP.
[If you’d like to sign up for the advance purchase of the blu-ray + DVD combo pack, click HERE.]