I have to admit I was a little skeptical about watching ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER. The plot sounded intriguing when I first got the press release, but after I saw the DVD artwork, I was sorta put off. It just looks…cheap. Not to mention the title; it sounds like something you would read on a 1950s matinee billboard. But I promised the fine folks at MVD I would take a look at it, so I watched it through. I’m glad I did, too…although it’s not a perfect film, I enjoyed it and was even surprised by the ending. As a result, I am classifying this movie as a decent low-budget horror flick.
If you are not familiar with ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Apprehensive Films:
In the working-class town of Morningside, New Jersey, Sheriff Tom Haulk maintains a quiet peace. When desecrated corpses and ritualistic symbols start appearing, Tom and his deputy, Klara Austin, are thrust into an unreal world of darkness. While tracking the killer, Tom comes face to face with his past as he crosses paths with deadly serious local drug runners and watches as his closet friend, Mark, struggles to care for his ailing wife. With time running out and bodies piling up, the officers embark on a desperate race against the clock, pitting the two against friends, enemies and even each other.
I also have to confess a big reason I watched the film was to see Nicholas Brendon. I haven’t seen him since his days on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (of which I was and am still a big fan), and I was curious to see if his acting style was different. Thankfully, it is not, however this film offers a more diverse range of his acting abilities.
ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER is shot so-so, although you can tell right from the start it’s a low budget film. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you need to know that up front before you watch it. Don’t expect a Michael Bay-size budget here. The term ‘shoestring’ sums it up pretty well.
The acting as a whole is very good. I am impressed with several performances, including Brendon’s, as well as Robert Pralgo, who portrays the Sheriff, and Tiffany Shepis, who is a horror icon and always a joy to see onscreen. Also mentionable are Mike Stanley, who plays the jerk-headed Clyde, and Amber Chaney, who does a great job as Abby. The minor characters are forgettable for the most part, which is to be expected in a lower-budget film.
The special effects in ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER are good as well. We don’t see a whole lot of gore, but what we do get to see is well done, especially given the budget constraints.
The plot itself is pretty simple, but it has a nice twist at the end that I didn’t see coming. This reason alone was enough to make me glad I watched it through. I finished the film with a smile on my face.
But even though the film is fun, it does have some big flaws. First and foremost for me is the title. I honestly would not have given this film a second look if it wasn’t for Nicholas Brendon as a headliner. The title is simply terrible. It evokes a MAJOR C-movie feel that usually puts me off. Secondly, the film looks almost TOO low budget in certain aspects. The overall look, from the location settings to the cinematography style, is almost too much to overlook. Thankfully, I was able to, but I will bet many viewers will turn this off after just a few minutes.
Still, I can’t deny my overall enjoyment of ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER. I recommend this to anyone looking for a decent B-movie with bite. It’s not a major Hollywood production, but it does have a lot of heart…and not just the one you see in a jar at the beginning of the film. This hits shelves tomorrow if you want to take a look.