I have now witnessed the glory that is The Milpitas Monster. I’d first heard of this film as a kid (probably 11 or 12) while watching Creature Features with Bob Wilkins on KTVU, Channel 2. I couldn’t tell you what he’d said about the movie but a still from the movie that Wilkins showed his viewing audience burned itself into my memory. It was an image of the Monster as it climbed (or maybe just menaced) a radio tower. Why that picture stuck in my memory I don’t know. I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t impressed by the monster suit. I think the idea that someone in a neighboring Northern California town had made, not just a monster movie, but a giant monster movie is what made that picture important enough to remember over the decades.
Through the miracle of ebay I now own a VHS copy of The Milpitas Monster. This morning, after getting up at 4:30 in order to assist Nizzibet in getting off to a business breakfast, I popped in the tape, the cat and I schlumped on the couch and let the epic unfold before us.
And what an epic it is. Scary seventies’ fashions. George Keister, the “comic relief” drunk. A gang of almost wholesome ne’erdowells. A hero with little screen time and less personality (nicknamed “the Penguin” for reasons I can only begin to guess). Priscilla, the heroine with less screen presence than the hero. A monster, born of garbage and pollution, that changes in appearance depending on whether it’s represented by stop-motion, a suit or a giant monster hand prop. (And whose roar is ripped off from Rodan. I’m annoyed that it took me twenty minutes to recognize it.) Some fairly decent miniature work. Garbage can stealing. Loud protests. Bob Wilkins and the Odorola! Monster menace at the school dance!
Is The Milpitas Monster any good? Well … No. It is ambitious. More ambitious certainly than most original monster movies playing an the SciFi channel. The monster is visualized (mostly) competently by a variety of special effects including suitmation (man-in-a-monster-suit), stop-motion animation and a giant prop hand (that fairly obviously couldn’t move and therefore required the actress to struggle to . And when you consider that the movie was primarily put together by students at the Milpitas High School … Very cool. It hereby ties with The Horror of Party Beach as the cheesy b-movie I’d most like to remake if I had way too much money and too much time on my hands. Or that I’d like to redo as a comic book if I had any time for such a project.
Until then, sometime in the next few weeks, I’ll draw up a re-imagining of the monster for Kaijuphile. And laugh.