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How to Make a Monster
2001 - R - 91 Mins.
Director: George Huang
Producer: Stan Winston, Lou Arkoff
Written By: George Huang
Starring: Clea DuVall, Steve Culp, Tyler Mane, Julie Strain
Review by: Joe Rickey
   
A very loose remake of a cheesy horror film from the 50’s, ‘How to Make a Monster’, starring Clea DuVall and Steve Culp, and directed by George Huang, is an effects-laden effort that manages to be fun in the same corny fun that the original and its ilk were back when horror maestro, William Castle, was still alive. Certainly though, one must go in with low expectations if they’re to enjoy this film that has a self-aware attitude some may find tiresome and a plot that, for all its supposed complexity at the start, devolves into the old horror film mainstay of a small group of people trapped in a confined area with a menace that aims to kill them off one by one.

Speaking of the plot, it concerns a video game developer that hires on extra help in finishing its much-anticipated and costly action game. The added help has the task of creating a diabolical villain that the prospective game-playing audience simultaneously fears and thinks is cool in the way only villains can be considered cool. Everything is proceeding as planned until a strange electrical outburst causes the programming tools to malfunction and all of their data to be lost. When a sole member of the team stays late to recover what was lost, the person is brutally murdered. It is then not long before the others realize that a mechanical monstrosity, the same one they had been creating, has been set loose upon the real world through reasons unexplained. When they try to escape they find that all doors have been locked and windows sealed shut. It soon becomes a battle for survival against their seemingly possessed creation.

This iteration of ‘How to Make a Monster’ is one in a series of films created by Stan Winston Studios in an effort to show off their prowess with special effects. Others in the series include ‘She Creature (reviewed on this site), ‘The Day the World Ended’, and ‘Teenage Caveman.’ What then, does this particular film have to offer? Well, it has the sort of premise that while far from original, is accepted by most fans of horror films as many great horror films have used the idea of an unstoppable killer stalking trapped potential victims, from ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ to every single ‘Friday the 13th’ film, such a plot can be not only cost-effective but also effective in a narrative sense. Not approaching the aforementioned films in its effectiveness but still ending up as entertaining, ‘How to Make a Monster’ is aided by a game cast that recognizes that they find themselves in a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously so they don’t either.

In the lead role is Clea DuVall who is effective in conveying the unknowing naiveté of her character. Steve Culp also brings fun to his role as the workaholic businessman worried about the monetary success of the video game the others are creating. The rest of the cast aren’t give characters with more than one defining characteristic, and, as a result, suffer in comparison. You now must be wondering: How does the CGI enhanced monster look? Well, it is not on par obviously with Stan Winston’s work in big budget films such as ‘Terminator 3’ but it is much better than one would expect for a straight-to-video film; about all one could realistically expect in this case of a film working no doubt on a limited budget.

‘How to Make a Monster’ is a purposely self-referential horror film that can be enjoyed if one goes in not expecting anything nearing greatness; just a fun little monster mash.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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