Rarely do we get a chance to see shameless grindhouse features hell bent on fast-paced schlock and rip-roaring fun, and it’s on those grounds that Australian independent flick El monstro del mar! delivers. Written and directed by Stuart Simpson and put together Guerrilla-style by a small crew of dedicated individuals, this is probably the underdog Indy cult event of the year.
Three deranged killers, Beretta (Nelli Scarlet), Blondie (Karly Madden), and Snowball (Kate Watts), hole up in a small beachside community after their murderous actions attract the wrong kind of attention. But not all is as it seems in this small town. A few of the locals try desperately to warn them of the dangers of going into the water but the crazy threesome listen to no one. However, their seaside frolic awakens a horrifying beast from the depths of the ocean and it isn’t long before the girls are hip-deep in trouble, facing the fight of their lives against the terrifying Kraken.
The story is put together with a loving knowledge of all things exploitation, think Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! with Evil Dead gore and a monster reminiscent of Ray Harryhausen. It ventures back in time to explore what’s so wonderful about the female exploitation genre; giving bombastic central roles to unkowns, then letting them fight sea monsters The three vixens that parade the screen-time are endearing to watch, beautiful yet no-nonsense, OTT and bound together by a hatred of conventional life: rebels and patriots to their own dastardly cause. Simpson has done a great job of replicating a 60s and 70s-esque trio of terrible sirens, and the girls have done a great job at embodying them.
For a film of its ilk, El Monstro del Mar! is surprisingly well put together, the camera work and editing jump miles ahead of many other films with a significantly bigger budget, but that’s the brilliant thing about cult films; you can get away with some really outlandish finishing touches. Some scenes prove over-stylised, detracting from the flow of the narrative, but a sometimes brilliant (often cheesy) self-referential angle indulges the cult quality to the point of decrepit decadence. And there’s nothing more enjoyable than pure cult decadence, even if it sometimes strays the mark. The soundtrack too is perfect and strides hand-in-hand with the style of the film, a sexy sassy Tarantino sound that brings the film a classy aspect it does its best to dodge through visuals.
Sure, the film’s not perfect. This grindhouse feature loses itself at points through taking its foot off the peddle to expand a narrative that doesn’t really need too much depth. And sure there’s some hefty bits of overacting but that can be ignored when considered as part of a film whose sole purpose is to show off the reckless and outrageous charm of B-movies. Movies like this have to be gauged in terms of their niche
A film for cult fans made by cult fans; dripping with love, elbow-grease, sex-appeal, and gore. Exploitation at its filthy best and an impressive second feature-length film from Stuart Simpson, El Monstro del Mar! is a must in this year’s top B-movies for sheer balls and total immersion, extra credit is most definitely awarded for fantastic monster-effects. Besides it’s probably the best “Outlaw Babes vs. Sea Monster” flick you’ll see this year. Probably.
Director: Stuart Simpson
Stars: Nelli Scarlet, Karly Madden, Kate Watts, Norman Yemm, Kyrie Capri