Muckman (US-2010; dir. Brett Piper)
Low-budget independent B-film maven, Brett Piper’s new cryptozoological comedy-thriller, Muckman, is a satirical excursion into a backwater wilderness inhabited by more than mosquitoes and alligators. Featuring a plotline churning with deception, false identities and self-serving exploitation, the film chronicles the experiences of a rather hapless reality TV crew who have ostensibly come to seek out the elusive Muckman and to make a TV film documenting the search — but who do, in fact, harbour diverse individual agendas.
I don’t think I’m dropping any spoilers by revealing that though few if any of them really believe that the legendary creature actually exists, they soon discover that it most emphatically does.
Piper’s witty script (written with B-film comrade Mark Polonia) plays the increasingly tangled scenario for all it’s worth, pursuing stereotypical male/female interaction, TV-industry satire, hillbilly humour, false expectations, thrills, comedy and comeuppance directed at the bad guys with admirable aplomb.
Piper has gone on record as saying that Muckman is the cheapest film he’s made. Cheap though it may be, Muckman delivers its B-film aesthetic with style. The cheapness shows mainly in its lack of the sort of full hyperactive cinematic processing we’re used to from big-budget Hollywood films, especially in regards to editing style, on-location lighting and sound. Meanwhile, however, good comedic performances from its cast (especially lead actresses Anju McIntyre and Alison Whitney) and decent old-school SFX by Piper and his crew raise it above the norm for such things. Piper’s old-school FX techniques may not be overly familiar to contemporary multiplex audiences, but the full creature suit itself is excellent and the climactic attack of a gigantic tentacled swamp creature guaranteed to bring a gleeful smile to the face of stop-motion fans everywhere.
Basically, Muckman is a fun monster flick, with effectively created characters, a decent critter and enough spirit and originality to make its B-film homage much more than a simple uninspired re-hash.
Piper has just finalised a deal for distribution of the film on DVD and expects it to be available from his website soon. Look out for it.
- Reviewed from a screener version of the film.