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May 3, 2013

Movie Review: Don't Let the Riverbeast Get You! (2013)

Remember those cheesy monster movies from the 1950s where some guy runs around in a bad rubber suit, chomping on or kidnapping the local townsfolk? And one person who in the past was deemed a nutbar for believing in said creature but becomes a folk hero when he finally kills the beast and saves the town? Well, welcome to 1953 because this movie has all of that and everything those earlier movies never had but on purpose.

Don't Let The Riverbeast Get You (yes, that's the title) is a quaint little homage (gods, how I hate that word) to the Great Generation's legacy of radiated creatures, outer space monsters, and every other kind of beast of which the masses seemed to be so terrified. Neil Stuart is returning home, to River Town, after a three year absence. After claiming he saw a horrible riverbeast in the woods, the town ostracized him and his fiancé left him at the altar. So he abandoned his job of 'the world's best tutor' to get away from it all and just take some time for himself.

When he returns, his Godmother Peggy (heh) takes him back into her home along with his best friend, Teddy, who still hasn't forgiven him for abandoning their friendship and their band. But all is eventually well as Neil reunites with his tutor friends and begins getting work helping wayward students. Enter Allie Stone, the only daughter of former pro athlete Tom Stone and freshly kicked out of her third local finishing school for exposing one of the professors as a creepy peeping Tom. I know, right?

Neil really is the best tutor evah (yes, read that with an upper east coast accent as that's where this movie was filmed) because Allie straightens up and flies right. And she also believes that Mr. Stu is telling the truth. She's going to help him get his ex-fiance back (though I'm not sure why because she's an idiot and is engaged to an assmunch with a child from another marriage) and prove that the riverbeast is real so he will stop being the town joke.

Unfortunately, the local newspaper man wants to continue to make Neil's life a walking hell. He sets him up at every opportunity to make him continue to look like a crazy, short tempered prone to violence looney. Because of all his antics, Neil is locked up on suspicion of murder when people start going missing, particularly his ex-fiance's new fiancé and his child from another marriage.

But guess what, folks? Neil's friends and Allie find proof that the monster exists. Once Neil is released from jail (which, let's face it, he was only incarcerated on 'a hunch' of the local sheriff) he pursues the riverbeast and finally destroys it once and for all. With kitty litter.

To be honest, I went into this film jaded. I've been so disappointed by horror comedies of late that I just assumed this one would be a stinker as well. You know what they say about assume, right? Don't do it because that's just wrong.

Though this movie is rife with terrible acting, awful sound (it was alternately piercing loud and muted, as if the piercing audio damaged my ear drums and I could no longer hear properly), and mediocre writing, I couldn't help but find myself smiling and laughing through more of it than I expected. I enjoyed the throw-back feel of the creature feature flicks of yesteryear. Looking back through the film, there is no swearing, no gore, a tiny bit of mouth blood, and definitely no nudity. Now maybe that's a complete turn off for you guys but for me it was quite refreshing.

It's not like I always watch movies dripping with gore, blood, intestines, hacking and slashing, gnashing teeth, tearing flesh, and naked boobies. Oh, who am I kidding. Yes, I do. So when this movie is described as family film, it's not lying.

Though by the conclusion I was rooting for (the adorable) Neil and was pleased he got the happy ending he deserved (I already told you there was no nudity!), I can't say I enjoyed myself for more than 30% of the film. It was hard to believe that the scene where a guitarist, playing in the street, meets a dancer and minutes later she asks to go over to his house and take a shower, belonged in this movie and not in Penthouse Forum. I couldn't get behind the riverbeast especially after seeing the costume zipper along his spine and hearing him speak English and use weapons on his victims. Get a job, you loser! I began to worry more about counting the usage of rarely used words and phrases (vagabond, ne'er do well, deviant/deviancy) that I couldn't concentrate on the plot.

And probably the most distracting, aside from 50 minutes of a kill free movie, was a double flashing red screen to WARN the viewer of the upcoming appearance of the terrifying riverbeast. Pretty much all it did was make me twitch and have to turn down the volume. The accompanying booming bass made the windows in my house shake.

So yes, the writers succeeded in blending comedy and horror without the use of exploitation. The characters were quirky and fun. I even sang along with the theme song as well as tapped my toes to the River Mud Shuffle. But otherwise, it was a bit of a train wreck. I am hopeful, though, that these guys will continue writing and producing and directing because the ideas are great. It's just the execution need work. A lot of work.

2 Hatchets

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