Starring: Dan Merriman, Rob Monkiewicz, Irene Elizabeth Joseph, Diane DiGregorio, Liz Hurley, and Phip Barbour
Director: Brett Piper
Rating: Five of Ten Stars
A geeky film student (Merriman) fires up the 150 year-old creation of a mad scientist and creates a bridge between our dimension and another. He is transformed into a hideous creature with a video camera fused into his skull and sets out to transform a girl he has a crush on (DiGregorio) into the perfect Bride of the Monster.
"Psyclops" is a diamond in the rough. It features Rob Monkiewicz, the leading man of several other Piper films, in one of his first appearances, and it is full of the sort of comedy and classic horror movie atmosphere that Piper included in his later films "Bite Me!" and "Shock-O-Rama". But Monkiewicz' performance feels stiff and unnatural, and Piper's direction of numerous scenes is clunky and plodding. And it's not just Monkiewicz whose performance is still--the entire cast give performances that would be perfectly acceptable on a stage, but which are entirely unsuitable for a film. They all wait politely for the other cast members to finish their lines, and they all seem to be performing to make sure that the audience in the back can pick up every work and gesture.
It doesn't help matters that the dialogue feels mostly unnatural and very 1970s comic-booky as well. In fact, the whole film feels like a live action comic book in many ways... with each line of dialogue being in its own separate speech balloon and each shot being an individual panel. Perhaps this is what Piper was going for, but since that is such a far-fetched notion, I rather doubt it. It is an interesting atmosphere, but it gives the movie a stagey feel.
However, despite the stiffness of the acting and the dialogue, the film is never boring. Although Piper once again takes his time introducing us to the characters, the film is engaging from the outset. Once the mad science enters into the picture--with alien bugs that reanimate dead bodies and goopy tentacle beasts from Dimension Lovecraft--the film is practically zooms along to its fiery conclusion. (We can't have a movie with mad science-spawned monster without a building burning to the ground at the end, now can we?)
The swift pace of the film almost makes up for the fact that many of the jokes aren't all that funny. The fight against zombies animated by extra-dimensional creatures is also a great highlight of the film, and it more than makes up for a pointless scene where Merriman kills a would-be mugger. All-in-all, if you like cheesy movies, you'll find this movie a good way to pass an hour and half, and you'll agree with me that its strong points almost outweigh the weak ones.
Almost. At its best, this film reminded me of some of my favorite Full Moon pictures from the 1980s and 1990s, but at its worst it put me in mind of Full Moon efforts from the other end of the spectrum... although nothing here was ever as bad as "The Killer Eye".
While Brett Piper and Rob Monkiewicz went onto improve their craft and create better films, most of the other actors appearing in this film have virtually no other credits to their names--including "Liz Hurley" who is not who you think it is. That's a shame, because with the exception of a couple of bit players, I saw potential in every actor that appeared. (I could even swear that I've seen Diane DiGregorio in other films, but I can't find any other credits for her.)
Given the great progress Piper made as a filmmaker between "Psyclops" in 2002 and "Shock-O-Rama" in 2005, I can only imagine how entertaining "Bacterium" (a 2006 film waiting in my Stack of Stuff) and his 2009 effort "Muck Man" (which I have yet to acquire) might be.