Do you like looking at trees? Do you like looking at people looking at trees? Well, do I have a movie for you! It’s absolutely packed with trees, and with people looking at trees! It’s a “horror” movie from 1985 called Attack of the Beast Creatures. It’s a very scary movie, if you’re afraid of trees. OK, that’s not fair, there is something else in the movie to be afraid of. If you’re scared of little red puppets with long black wigs, this movie is definitely gonna ruffle your feathers. Just as an illustration of how strange we humans are, there are actually words in the dictionary for both the fear of trees, dendrophobia, and a fear of puppets, pupaphobia. There is no word for a fear of puppets in trees.
Attack Of The Beast Creatures doesn’t really have a plot. It is a series of scenes in seemingly chronological order, but it is mostly just shots of people walking in the forest being scared. The film does have a premise. A small group of survivors from a shipwreck end up on an island somewhere and are hunted down and eaten by little red thingies. That’s really it, there is nothing else to the film.
Judging by the costumes, the film takes place sometime in the 1920s. This fact does not play a role in the film. The costumes were probably what was on sale at the rental place, or maybe the film is set in the twenties to make some kind of anti-colonialist statement about the reshaping of borders after World War I. A bunch of aristocrats wash up on foreign shores and are eaten by the indigenous people. Yeah, that’s definitely it. At first glance, this film appears to be about trees, but after careful inspection, it is a work of agitprop about imperialism. It could also be a racist retelling of American history, where the little red puppets represent Indians, or “red skins”, and… wait, the Redskins! Maybe it's all a metaphor about baseball. The rich castaways represent the Yankees and… and they are competing against the Redskins in the Imperialism World Series.
After doing a little research, it turns out that the movie is not about any of that. The movie was made because William Szlinsky had an idea for a horror scene and wanted to make a movie to put it in. I will say that the scene in question is definitely the best scene in the film. One of the castaways finds a pond and hurries over to take a drink, but for no apparent reason, the pond is made of acid and it burns his face off. It’s not so much a scene as an opportunity to pour ketchup on a guy's face, but they accomplished their goal (sort of). It doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the film, but it’s gooey and gory, and I guess that’s good enough for me.
Attack Of The Beast Creatures was produced and directed by Michael Stanley. There were some arguments on set about whether the film was a horror movie or a comedy, but Stanley was adamant that it be a serious horror film. I’m not sure what he felt about how it all came out in the end. There was also a fight over the title. Stanley had titled it Hell Island, but the distributor felt that that wasn’t “catchy enough” and changed the title to the ever-so-catchy Attack Of The Beast Creatures. The film was a straight-to-video affair, and I guess, if I was in a video store in 1985, dressed in my Member’s Only jacket with rubber bracelets on my wrists, and I had to choose between Attack Of The Beast Creatures and Weird Science… Actually, I don’t know what I would do.
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