Saying that director Jim Wynorski has made a lot of movies is kind of like saying water is wet. He “made his bones” in the industry working for legendary B movie guru Roger Corman in the 70’s. Now he’s known for a diverse portfolio of films. Whether it is killer robots in CHOPPING MALL, Traci Lords in NOT OF THIS EARTH, a comedy like TRANSYLVANIA TWIST or one of his many forays into the late night cable market (can we say THE BARE WENCH PROJECT), whatever the project Wynorski brings a skillful touch to it. Now the prolific director is trying his hand at a family friendly monster film with MONSTER CRUISE.
MONSTER CRUISE follows Larry Krupnik (Paul Wallace), a young man with a good heart and an empty wallet. He and his friend Izzy (Shay Dickerhoff) run a video store that isn’t doing too well. In fact Larry is behind on the rent and owes money to everyone from his landlady to a diminutive mobster named Tony (David Despain). Things look pretty bleak for Larry when he gets the news that his grandfather, Skipper (Hal Fryer) has passed away and left him a boat “Jezebel” and a bit of land up by Lake Apple Log.
Larry and Izzy visit the lake to find out more about what Skipper left him and they are quickly drawn to the beauty and serenity of the lake and nearby small town. Larry also meets a beautiful tomboy named Tamara (Kayla Gill) who owns a bait shop on Larry’s property. Larry also learns that his Grandfather’s nemesis; developer Maxwell Gordon (Gerard Pauwels), has his eye on the Krupnik land. Gordon wants to build a mega casino on the lake front. He intended to scoop the property up when the bank foreclosed on Skipper’s mortgage, but now he wants to weasel the property out of Larry for pennies on the dollar. Meanwhile, Izzy has met his own sweetheart in the form of Ariel (Erin Neufer) a pretty, if somewhat strange girl with a fishy secret: she’s a mermaid.
Mermaids aside though, things are looking pretty bleak for Larry and his friends, still there is a ray of hope. Many rumors surround the lake, including one of a buried treasure. The treasure was supposedly brought to the lake by a retired pirate who hoped the lake’s resident mystery monster, Ogopogo, would deter fortune hunters. Now Larry and his friends need to find out the truth behind the legend if he’s going to save the lake from becoming nothing more than another casino.
MONSTER CRUISE is a pretty straight forward film. There’s the lovable good guy, a few stereotypical baddies, a goofy but fun side kick and a pretty girl who steals the hero’s heart. However, while the elements are not the most original, MONSTER CRUISE is still a fun movie. The film feels like a homage to movies like BEACH BLANKET BINGO, GIDGET or any one of a dozen Disney films from the 60’s and 70’s, not deep on story, but filled with humor and heart. MONSTER CRUISE has a warm feeling to it and manages to avoid serious adult content without coming across as childish. It’s one of those rare films that the whole family really can enjoy. The monster of MONSTER CRUISE, Ogopogo, is actually cute and it does little in the way of “monster like” activities, although it does befuddle a pair of erstwhile monster hunting scientists (Jim O’Rear and Ervin Ross). Another of the things that makes MONSTER CRUISE a little bit different is the film’s setting; the small Indiana town of Franklin. Franklin got behind the project thanks to the efforts of writer/producer and Franklin resident Bill Dever. This gives the movie an extra bit of down home feeling that comes across in every shot.
So if you’re looking for a few laughs and some family fun, check out Jim Wynorski’s MONSTER CRUISE, you won’t find any blood and guts in this monster movie, but you will find a lot of heart!