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Make no bones about it, my friends: “A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell ” director Brett Piper’s 2009 horror/comedy “Muckman” is absolute crap. If anyone says otherwise, they’re probably lying to you. Everything about the film is cheap: the script, the special effects, the acting — it’s a hot pile of microbudget feces that would send most discerning film fans screeching from the room in anger. However, if you’re a fan of no-budget horror with a penchant for low-brow laughs and bargain basement monsters, the film is actually kind of fun. Sure, the creature is a direct rip-off of “The Swamp Thing”, and the story spends more time goofing off than it does exploring the legend of its titular villain, but it’s silly charms and wonky thrills do contain a fair amount of entertainment. Assuming, of course, that you have a sense of humor about cinema.
Perhaps the coolest thing about “Muckman” is that it’s co-written by the one and only Mark Polonia, who, with the aid of his twin brother John, helped pioneer cheap, do-it-yourself, shot-on-video horror. “Splatter Farm”, ” “Feeders”, and “The House That Screamed” sit proudly in my collection of B-movie shlock, and I’m always down with turning someone on to the brilliance of the Polonia brothers. The idea of like-minded filmmaker Bret Piper teaming up with Mark Polonia was initially exciting, that is, until I began to realize that “Muckman” was offering up absolutely nothing new whatsoever. Given their collective history with the genre, you’d think they could have come up with something a little better than this. I mean, seriously.
The story — if you can honestly call it that — follows a group of hapless journalists as they attempt to locate the mysterious Muckman, a creature that, according to local legend, roams the woods in search of prey. However, in order to make sure these newshounds don’t come back empty handed, their shady producer has hired a group of rednecks to dress up like the titular beast and menace the attractive twenty-somethings. As per usual, the monster turns out to be real, and all Hell breaks loose. Is the Muckman a savage beast, or does this misshapen lump of vegetation actually have a heart? Like I said, given that Mark Polonia and Brett Piper are responsible for some of the most nonsensical horror flicks known to mankind, you’d think their collective efforts would yield more interesting rests. Sadly, this just isn’t the case.
In fact, when all is said and done, I’d be hard pressed to call “Muckman” a horror movie. Sure, the story deals with a misunderstood monster who eventually makes friends with his enemy, but you’ll find the same scenario executed perfectly in “Harry and the Hendersons”. No, Brett Piper’s vapid endeavor feels more like a low-budget “National Lampoon’s” flick than it does anything else. When the characters aren’t noodling about in their camper, cooking putrid food and smoking pot, they’re wrestling in the water in their bikinis. Adding insult to injury is that fact that Muckman himself doesn’t really show up until the last twenty minutes of the movie. Wading through mindless sex jokes and awkward acting is okay if the payoff is there. “Muckman” completely fumbles the proverbial ball, leaving you with nothing but the lingering sense of utter disappointment.
At this point in the review, I usually say something like “the film has its fans” or “there’s definitely an audience for this sort of thing”, but in the case of “Muckman”, these well-worn phrases and cheap defenses simply do not apply. There isn’t anything here for anybody, period, even for those who worship at the alters of Polonia and Piper. Even if you disregard the film’s empty, crotch-driven dialogue and the near absence of the creature on the box art, it’s still a boring, soulless endeavor from a pair of filmmakers who should know better than to peddle this drivel on their fanbase. Even the hardest B-movie fanatic should certainly think twice before embarking on this expedition.
Brett Piper (director) / Brett Piper, Mark Polonia (screenplay)
CAST: Buzz Cartier … Otto Van Sant
Steve Diasparra … Mickey O’Hara
Danielle Donahue … Pauline
A.J. Khan … Asia Buchanan
Ian Piper … Curly
Ken Van Sant … Cletus
Jared Warren … Drew
Alison Whitney … Billie