Movies From the Black Lagoon: Man-thing

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Man-thing - 2005, rated R
By Tom Doty

A shuffling mass of mud, roots, and leaves menaces the people of a backwater town in this horror flick that should be familiar to fans of Marvel Comics.
The success of Marvel's "Spiderman" films lead to an open season on their catalogue which resulted in this terror tale, that sprouted from Marvel's horror line up of comics. These titles flourished in the early seventies and featured titles like 'Werewolf By Night" and "Brother Voodoo." This boom in horror comics has already been raided once (for the "Blade" films which came from the 'Tomb of Dracula "). Now we get the saga of a swamp creature hell bent on stopping the industrialization of its environment.
The story begins with a new sheriff arriving in the bayou town of Bywater, so called because it is on the water. Sheriff Williams soon realizes he has stepped into a powder keg. The locals are ready to rumble with the Schist Company, which has planted an oilrig in a sacred part of the swamp and is busy pumping out petrol. Williams is drawn to the feisty third grade teacher who is leading the protests but that might be because she looks more like a Penthouse Pet than a grammar school instructor.
Meanwhile there is a shaman on the loose and the Schist family is convinced that this backwater wizard is responsible for several missing persons, including the former sheriff. Williams decides to search the swamp himself when he gets word that the Schists have enlisted the aid of a pair of gator hunting brothers that would make the family form the "Chainsaw Massacre " films look downright presentable by comparison.
Meanwhile there are plenty of attacks that cause great damage to the company's property as well as casualties amongst the cast. We only get glimpses of the creature but that is rectified during the finale. The last reel features plenty of the muck monster as it impales, stabs, and shreds the cast like so much fixings at a 'Shoney's "buffet.
This is a decent time waster as long as you except that it isn't "Citizen Kane." The revenge motif may be old but having a walking salad lay on the punishment is a new twist. The creature effects are pretty good as is the gore, which gets messier with each death. The cast is serviceable but there is one major problem - they are all from New Zealand. I have no problem with companies saving money by shooting there. It's a scenic area and it looks great on film. The actors, however, couldn't do a southern American accent if their careers depended on it. They are all good at emoting but their twang lacks that "thang".
Best Line: "What did you do to my deputy? Where is the rest of him?"

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@myactv.net.