Muckman (2009) – By Josh Samford

What does one say about a movie with the title Muckman? Honestly, by the title alone we know what we are walking into with this one. When the DVD arrived on my doorstep with a very HP Lovecraft inspired monster staring at me from the DVD artwork – I knew this was going to be fun. So often in the world of independent horror, the "monster" is left lacking in a big way. With Brett Piper at the helm however, that doesn’t seem to be a worry. Before Muckman, I had seen his anthology film Shock-O-Rama during my search for Misty Mundae titles. Shock-O-Rama was a film that I really enjoyed due to its willingness to be the butt of the joke once in a while, but differed from your standard Troma-inspired fare because you could actually see the performers attempting to create a truly entertaining horror-comedy. Many independent horror films simply try to cash in on their gore or nudity and create critical armor by hiding behind the excuse that they were trying to make a bad film on purpose. It’s an easy way to avoid even trying. Shock-O-Rama actually tried, and it was successful. Muckman is certainly a film that follows up in that same vein.

Our story focuses on Mickey, a washed up TV producer/reporter who actually had his career ripped away from him while doing a "In Search Of" inspired television series that featured an episode on a creature known only as The Muckman. Mickey had attempted to fool the audience into believing they had caught footage of a Muckman during a live broadcast, but the man in their gorilla costume knocked himself out as he ran into a tree. Mickey became a laughing stock and so did his co-host Asia Buchanan (A.J. Khan). Flash forward several years later and Mickey has heard rumblings that the Muckman has been making several appearances as of late and he is hoping to revive his career by sending out Asia with a group of kids in order to capture something on tape. After being given the green light, Asia takes her group of hapless young people and they meet up with some locals. Billie (Allison Whitney), their driver on this expedition, smells something fishy about this whole situation and it may just be the foul smelling beast they call The Muckman.

While select characters in the movie will utterly grate on your nerves, Muckman does succeed in creating a few very likable characters throughout. The driver Billie is obviously the main heroine throughout the story, as she appears to be the only character with any kind of brains. She is a typical heroine lost within a horror movie, but Allison Whitney’s performance is well done in that she doesn’t come across as too cocky but still remains braggadocios. On the opposite end of the spectrum, but equally as good, you have A.J. Khan as Asia. Khan is the best kind of villain here. She is the opposite of all things good and she gets loud about it! Her role only calls for one dimension, but she plays it well and creates a archetype that the audience can truly root against. The rest of the performances are off and on. Steve Diasparra who plays Mickey is extremely over the top in his performance. His eyebrows and facial expressions are all over the place. It seems to fit the air of the film however, as the entire production tends to be a bit over the top.

The comedy borders on shtick, but it remains a very likable movie thanks to the efforts of the cast and the heart behind all of the latex. The creature FX I might add are done very well for the most part, including some fun throwback claymation in the final half. The design of Muckman himself is very fun as he obviously resembles HP Lovecraft’s Cthulu, perhaps mixed with a Predator. It is a movie with very obvious faults, there are some VERY obvious instances of "day" for "night" shots in the last thirty minutes of the movie but fans of b-cinema or indie horror will find a nifty little conventional horror in this one. I would say its a relatively safe recommend for those of you somewhat accommodated to genre films made on a modest budget.