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You'd have to be pretty desperate to enjoy this cheesy Danish monster flick, imported by American International Pictures in 1962 to capitalize on Japan's barely-better Godzilla movies. The titular beastie begins as the frozen tail of a prehistoric reptile, discovered when a scientific drill hits a bloody mass of monster flesh buried deep in the Lapland tundra. The tail is accidentally thawed (echoes of The Thing) and regenerates into a massive demon-lizard that spits fluorescent green ooze and terrorizes Copenhagen! Padded with archival military footage and stampedes of panicking Danes, the movie's too earnest to be campy (save for some funny hamming by the science lab's handyman) and too cheap to qualify as a guilty pleasure, with special effects that make rubber-suit romps like Godzilla look masterful by comparison. By the time an unwitting army general says, "It's a good thing there are no more like him," you may find yourself wishing he was right. --Jeff Shannon
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Between the Danish cast not being able to speak English, the effects being horrendous and the culture clash between "classic" cheap horror and our sleepy little country, it makes for a film that stands alone in its bizarre misguidedness.
Even "Godzilla" had a decent build-up prior to the big scenes; this one, through terrible acting and directing, just makes you either laugh or shake your head, and that is before the 'thing' actually shows up.
For me, as a Dane, it is so strange to see Dirch Passer, a well-known Danish comic, playing the dumb janitor. I have known his performances since I was a kid, and to see him in something like this is just surreal. To an international audience, he is just some goofball; in Denmark he was an institution.
If you love bottom-of-the barrel filmmaking, you must see this at least once. The DVD is beautifully transferred, great color and sound.
Ed Wood has already been mentioned, but what takes this one to a special level is the fact that is is an amazing collision between Danish culture and American trash filmmaking. On those merits, highly recommended for some big laughs and some truly "what the h..." moments.
I love this movie so very much.
PLOT: A drilling team in Denmark hits a weird substance and, when they investigate, find out they've drilled into a frozen tail of a prehistoric reptile. While studying it, a scientist accidently lets it thaw, where it grows into REPTILICUS! A giant dragon that spits acid slime and is demolishing Copenhagen!
As you can tell, its your basic Godzilla knock-off formula. But don't take that to mean Reptilicus is anything resembling an ordinary giant lizard movie.
Where do I even begin? How about Reptilicus himself (herself?)... in most Godzilla/King Kong rip-offs, your monster in question is usually played by some guy in a ratty monster suit, or maybe is a stop-motion animated creature, right? Reptilicus is very clearly a hand puppet or (when you can see all of him) a marionette. Yup, visible strings and all, an honest-to-God marionette. He lookes kinda like an Ancient Chinese style dragon, with really tiny arms, so there's no way he can swipe buildings with his hand like other movie monsters, they just kinda bump him sideways into the models. Effects being what they are, he also doesn't really interact with the military fighting him. You just see shots of the military, then shots of Reptilicus, back to shots of the military, etc. They're never on the screen at the same time.
In one scene, Reptilicus eats a guy, and since its a hand puppet they have a photo of the actor overlaid on the screen, but then they ANIMATE the photo so he wiggles back and forth while he's floating into Reptilicus' mouth. It (sadly) only happens once, but its freakin' incredible!
Reptilicus isn't just dangerous becuase he's big, though, he also spits acid slime! These scenes are great, because instead of throwing goop on the military, they just overlay an ANIMATION of green slime on the film and add a "BLORT!" sound effect! I swear I'm not making that up, it happens a half dozen times and each time is priceless!
Now that the monster is out of the way, lets talk about the other stuff. This film was supposed to be Denmarks big breakthrough into the film industry, so officials and citizens of the country were very generous and accomidating to the filmmakers.
For instance: The actors were all Danish and didn't speak English, so they learned their English lines phonetically. That didn't turn out so good so they were all dubbed over, BUT since the voice actors had to try to match the actors lips, so the dubbing sounds like a terrible Godzilla movie even though the lips actually match up.
Another example: Literally thousands of Copenhagen citizens were used as extras. They all volunteered, and eager to be in a movie, dressed very well. You will see more people fleeing (again, THOUSANDS) than you will in any Godzilla flick, all running from a dragon hand puppet.
Yet another example: The Danish government was happy to volunteer its military equipment for the movie. You'll get to see real tanks, cannons, flamethrowers and even a battleship setting off actual depthcharges... all to kill a crappy dragon marionette.
There's more to see (including a completely gratuitous "come visit Denmark" travelogue scene inserted without warning randomly in the film), none of it boring, all of it fast moving, all of it hilarious in its sincerity. A classic of so bad its good films, Reptilicus needs to be seen at least once, and easily holds up to repeat viewings. It easily deserves a spot in your DVD collection, probably right next to Plan 9 From Outer Space, Robot Monster, Troll 2 and Super Inframan.
The combination of stock footage, a monster puppet, and General Mark Grayson's constant impression of something between simmering rage and intense constipation makes this the ideal subject for a do-it-yourself Mystery Science 3000 evening with several of your friends, a bottle of akvavit, and a platter of herring and leverpatje. And for the classic-auto fans, there are lovely scenes of the two lovely daughters of the old scientist driving around Copenhagen in a Porsche 356 Cabriolet.