There’s always been this idea of Russia as a country getting by on old technology left over from previous decades. And Monstry, (Monsters in English), is the cinematic proof of that, using effects that were dated in the 50’s when Bert I Gordon was using them in movies like King Dinosaur and The Beginning of the End and laughable when Bert resurrected them in the 70’s for Food of the Gods and Empire of the Ants. Monstry uses them in 1993, using real animals on miniature sets in a tale of radiation induced cases of gigantism. The results are, to put it bluntly, embarrassing, SyFy Channel CGI would look better than this.
The plot is about as simple as it gets, a team of scientists and military types are sent to investigate reports of strange goings on in the general vicinity of a damaged nuclear reactor. They run into giant critters, two of the team fall in love and a lot of other people die. The plot is as much a refugee from the 1950s as the effects are and this could have been a nostalgic throwback to those old, (often Cold War themed), films but unfortunately it’s awful. It doesn’t have any of the charm or silly thrills of those films, just a bad script played very straight faced. There’s a subtext to the film about the dangers of nuclear energy, (this was made in Russia after Chernobyl), but it’s poor handled it’s pretty much lost. And when you get overshadowed by an optically enlarged turtle, you know your message is weak.
The film’s highlight, if you want to call it that, is a giant tortoise slowly lumbering into battle with a tank and crushing it. It then chases our heroes into a building, where an obvious puppet head menaces them through a window. Speaking of windows, there’s a scene where a tentacle comes through a window and drags one of the scientist’s to his death. Now we never see the rest of the creature so I have no idea what it was, but as far as I can tell there’s no tentacled land animals in Russia.
Now it’s possible the subtitles, which were very poor with spelling errors and horrible grammar, let the film down, but I can’t imagine that even the best of dialogue could have saved this one. If you’re like me you’ll ignore the warnings and see it any way, I mean it’s a 50’s monster movie made in the 90’s by the Russians, that’s a pretty unique mix. Just be ready with some caffeine and a bottle of Stoli. You’ll need them both.