A Canadian slasher from the team behind Prom Night (1980), Humongous opens in 1946 at a cocktail party where young Ida Parsons (Mary Sullivan) is raped by the drunken Tom Rice (Page Fletcher) who is then savaged to death by her family’s dogs. Thirty-six years later, Eric (David Wallace) and Nick (John Wildman) borrow their father’s yacht for a weekend jaunt with girlfriends Sandy (Janet Julian) and Donna (Joy Boushel), alongside their geeky sister Carla (Janit Baldwin). Along the way they rescue shipwrecked fisherman Bert (Layne Coleman), but Nick’s drunken, would-be alpha-male antics result in them being stranded on a deserted island and losing Carla. While Donna tends Bert’s wounds, the others search the island but are soon stalked by a big hairy murderous monster (Garry Robbins) who is indeed Ida’s malformed offspring.
Beneath its silly title and mechanical slasher movie structure the discerning horror fan may glimpse the faintest trace of a better movie trying to get out. It would be interesting to learn whether the script written by William Gray - who wrote the superb ghost story The Changeling (1980) and worked several times with director Paul Lynch - was always this generic or else extensively reworked. The opening credits weave an effectively haunting tone playing over sepia-tinted photographs of Ida’s happy childhood on her remote island and concluding on an image of her, post-rape, dead-eyed and lifeless. Lynch’s cockeyed angles, the fetid production detail and an eerie electronic score by John Mills Cockell combine to create a palpable sense of unease.
Sadly the elaborate setup lapses into sub-Scooby-Doo territory (Eric is a dead ringer for Fred, albeit minus the orange cravat). Lynch dawdles through dull scenes where characters poke around abandoned shacks and piece together a mystery whose answer we already know. The photography by Brian R.R. Hebb is artful at times but often so murky the actors seem to be stood in front of a black screen. Characterization is paper thin yet atypically for this genre the young victims are a largely likeable, caring bunch. The obvious exception being Nick - a world class obnoxious jackass. Watching him go out screaming like a girl is somewhat amusing. Lynch and Gray make little of the sibling rivalry while of the rest: Donna is obviously doomed for being buxom and cute, while nice guy Bert and bespectacled wallflower Carla seem wholly superfluous.
Best known of the actors would be Janet Julian, who took over from Pamela Sue Martin as TV’s Nancy Drew. A regular in Seventies TV trash from Battlestar Galactica to B.J. and the Bear, she went on to substantial roles in Abel Ferrara’s Fear City (1984) and The King of New York (1990). Humongous mounts a twist on the usual showdown between monster and “final girl” with the outrageous contrivance of Sandy resembling the young Ida. The monster himself, an acromegaly sufferer rather like Forties horror icon Rondo Hatton, is largely confined to the shadows, glimpsed grinding up corpses or poking his bloodshot eyeballs through keyholes. Though it relies on him moving very… very… slowly, the finale is suspenseful and creepy with a closing shot that mimics our last glimpse of Ida.