Monday, June 13

Humongous (1981) - 1982 Embassy Home Entertainment Clamshell Betamax

All you need to know about Paul Lynch's Humongous is that the plot concerns a group of twenty-somethings stranded on an island with a pissed off hillbilly boy running amok with the director serving the proceedings up with little style or enthusiasm. Sorta like Friday the 13th Part 2 bonded with Hatchet if Adam Green's homage to early '80s slashers was actually an early '80s slasher and a dash of The Hills Have Eyes...only totally without the factor of how great that mixture sounds.

Those who troll flea markets regularly might already know where I'm going with the following. It's a mint Blockbuster ex-rental. Despite the mirth surrounding obscure slashers still landlocked on analog, there's nothing differentiating this example from the modern day stream of formulaic DTV slashers. The kind of no-namers easily found at swap meets as rental overstock barely touched either at the video store or in its new life as a $2 disc. A letdown considering how foundational and serviceable Lynch's earlier Prom Night is to the subgenre.

1986 slipbox / 1982 clamshell
That doesn't mean Humongous wasn't given an initial fuckin' badass home video release from Embassy Home Entertainment. To my knowledge, Embassy granted the flick three video releases. The first in 1982, one of the company's very first video releases, in a clamshell case and two others in 1983 and in 1986 (w/ a Nelson Entertainment cassette sticker) both their usual packaging choice of cardboard slipbox. The '82 clamshell is the one to seek being the rarest of the three by far and most, as stated, supremely badass. There's just something about clamshells versus slipboxes in which the small boxes most commonly associated with VHS and Betamax simply cannot win. The clamshell is also interesting for the very brief synopsis on the back as opposed to the drawn out outlines of the slipboxes that ruin the reveal of Victor Crowley's father inhabiting the island. The captions that accompany the stills is also a strange touch; almost as if the studio was still ironing out exactly how to entice potential renters. Videos of such vintage often didn't even have content descriptions. 

The caveat about all three releases is how dark the film-to-tape transfer is. I know longtime readers probably just rolled their eyes knowing how much of a picture quality stickler I can be, but seriously this is one of the darkest tapes I've ever seen. Adjusting the brightness and contrast doesn't help the abundance of jet black scenes with vague clumps of disembodied clothing and mouthless dialogue. Some of the problem may be Lynch's shit lighting but I'm inclined to believe someone fell asleep at the monitor while mastering this film for video. Hopefully Scorpion Releasing's eventual DVD sports a new transfer that cuts through the murkiness. The trailer below is revelatory in comparison.


Craig Edwards said...

My movie pal Richard and I watched this on HBO late one night over at his house in the 80's - it was plenty dark on cable too, as we kept joking with each other "what the hell is this? A slasher radio show?" I wouldn't mind seeing it (and I mean really SEEING it) again for the first time! ;)

Unknown said...

I'm really wondering how they will lighten this movie up when it comes to Dvd later this year. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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