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STUDIO: Cinema Epoch
RATED: Not rated (violence, drugs, sex)
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
• Still Gallery
He’s a Lizard Boy – what do you need, a road map?
Starring Pete Punito, Mark Strano, Bruce Brown
Written by Paul Della Pelle and Bruce Brown
Produced/Executive Produced by Paul Della Pelle and Adonis Cruz
Cinematography by Adonis Cruz
Directed by Paul Della Pelle
The military hires “renowned geneticist” Gino Conti to develop top-secret animal-hybrids but when his fiancee leaves him for being infertile he instead decides to cook up a half-lizard child to raise secretly in his remote mountain trailer. Lizard Boy grows up fast and develops a taste for human flesh (bummer) but Gino and his best pal Frankie are able to keep the beast calm with healthy doses of anti-depressants and bong hits. Can they prevent the inevitable Lizard Boy rampage?
Those tangled credits are almost as interesting as the film itself. But enough about that. Lets talk about Lizard Boy. As a character, he’s hard to pin down. He likes to watch kung fu and wrestling on TV but his dad worries that it makes him too aggressive. If you put him in a costume for Halloween, he can trick or treat, and in later years party, just like anybody else. But he does like eating people. He gets real big real fast because he ages quickly and eventually he does display great intelligence. Like Michael Myers before him, he learns to drive a car solely by watching someone else do it a few times. He leaves a cryptic note behind when he goes off to commit evil, complete with Shakespeare quotation; maybe his real father is The Riddler. The Lizard Boy leitmotif is pretty catchy, especially compared to the rest of the music which runs the gamut from stock to dreck.
But how are the Lizard Boy effects? Well… There are countless examples of low budget movies using creative, dollar-stretching solutions for their special effects. But some movies don’t care enough to try to hide the shoddiness of their craft; this is one of those movies. Lizard Boy shows up very early in the film in all his glory and he is quite an unimpressive beast. They gave him a crummy drug store lizard mask and they shoot it with way too much light just in case it didn’t look fake enough. They could have moistened it or something between takes so it wouldn’t look so plastic, but they didn’t. For shit’s sake, they let Lizard Boy wear a short sleeve t-shirt so you can see his perfectly normal human arms during many of his scenes. I guess some gloves would have been too much effort. They even let you see his normal human body when he get slashed with a knife during a martial arts showdown with a government agent. The less said about his stupid tail the better.
There is a lame subplot that sets up an unnecessary sequel hook. This is a horror movie, you don’t need a sequel hook. You can make one no matter what. Is the killer/monster dead? Fuck it, make a sequel anyway. Look at Michael Myers. He always seemed to be pretty good at regenerating but then in Halloween: H20 (aka part 7 even though it pretends 3-6 didn’t happen) he went and got his SPOILER head chopped off by his sister. But that entry was a success, so they made a sequel, Halloween: Resurrection. How did he survive that previous denogginizing? He pulled off a Xanatos Roulette (google it) that one nurse has to explain to another at the beginning of the film, including refuting each of the other nurse’s suggestions as why it’s so implausible. Let that be a lesson to you, Horror films. You don’t need a sequel hook. The film’s success will be all the motivation required to get a sequel moving. Halloween: Resurrection had a sequel hook but it was such a craptacular mess (as damaging to the franchise as producer/rights holder Moustapha Akkad being killed by terrorists or whatever the hell Rob Zombie did) that lo and behold it did not receive a sequel.
This film occasionally wants to be funny and some of the attempts at humor work better than others. A trip to a fertility doctor is wacky, and I did laugh, but it feels like a decent sitcom instead of a decent horror film. Making Lizard Boy smoke pot so he’ll calm down and stop eating people is a nice darkly humorous touch; you’re not getting any goofy stoner humor here. Some colorful details in the movie make it stand out a little from the rest of the endless pile of non-theatrical horror movies. For example: our hero is not some bland vanilla puff named Smith or Ford or Johnson. He’s Gino and he’s Italian. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because the actor is. But he names his half lizard son Carlo, and later takes him to visit his blind aunt Rosie for some meatballs. The whole Italian meal at Aunt Rosie’s house reminded me of Goodfellas. Three guys, one old lady, and tomato sauce, except this time the old lady’s blindness is literal instead of metaphorical.
Most of the actors are about what you would expect for a b-movie about a Lizard Boy, except for Damon Gregory in the role of Agent Richard Hoffmeyer. Gregory tries to chew the scenery but chokes to death early on, leaving us with an awful stinky ham-corpse of a performance. His sidekick Jenkins played by Ryan Gray is almost as bad, but at least he indulges Lizard Boy with a little kung fu fighting. I think a lot of these actors are stuntmen. Lizard Boy is just a guy in a bad mask grunting. You can see his eyes most of the time and he just looks like a regular guy except he’s blinking a lot because he’s wearing a cheap Lizard Boy mask. Someday somebody will make a good movie about a half lizard half Italian child that’s torn between two worlds and likes tearing people apart, but this isn’t it.
The picture and sound are decent for a low budget feature, but for special features you only get still photos and the trailer, along with a slideshow of posters of similar straight-to-DVD features.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars