Director – Bob Dahlin
Cast – Donald Grant, Denise DuBarry, Henry Gibson, Donald Moffat, Claude Akins, Paul Walker, Howard Duff, Paul Dooley, John Carradine, Frank Ashmore, Kevin Peter Hall, Stacy Ferguson
Release Year – 1986
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Boy did this film surprise me. When I saw that it came with a PG rating I thought to myself “this is going to suck!”, but seeing that this film was distributed by none other than Troma Entertainment, I decided to go into this expecting to be pleased…and I was. It sounds absurd that a PG horror film would be anything than utter crap, but Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things found success with a PG rating, and we can chalk Monster in the Closet to the list.
We follow Richard Clark(Daniel Grant), a low-level reporter who has been assigned to follow the story on a series of grisly deaths in which the victims, human and non-human, were found dead in their closets. As Richard investigates the murders he comes across a team of professors who have some insight into who/what is doing the killing, but they were far from right. A heinous monster is traveling from closet to closet killing anything and anyone that dares enter the closet. Richard teams up with the professors in an attempt to put an end to the monster’s destruction, but if the military is powerless against the creature, what good can a couple of brainiacs and a low-level reporter do?
My doubts about this film were relieved almost immediately after the film began. Right from the get-go we are thrown into the monster chaos and despite this film’s PG rating I found the monster action highly entertaining. Basically, we get everything we’d want from a cheesy monster film minus the immense gore, which in this film I could do without because I was given something for that. What was I given? Well…the Troma-esque comic feel that I adore so much! While this film is not a Troma production, Troma’s influence as a distributor is well noted in this film, and it helped turn this into an enjoyable watch. I was glad tos ee that we did not get any overly stupid comedy in this film either, just good ole chuckle-inducing scenes that left me pleased.
Story-wise I really enjoyed this film because we can all relate to the “monster in the closet” element because basically anyone growing up with a slight knowledge of horror films knew better than to sleep with the closet door open, and with the closet light off. If you defied those rules of a full night’s sleep, I salute you. In all honesty I really have not seen many horror film that involve a monster in a closet except for maybe one kill/scene in a film, never a film that fully employs a full-time closet-killing monsters. In regards to creativity, this film stands on its own with that.
The look of the monster was epic, and to make matters even cooler the monster was portrayed by none other than Kevin Peter Hall himself, who made his fame donning the “Predator” suit in both Predator and Predator 2. We get lots of live-action scenes involving the monster, including a cool Alien-esque tactic he uses to kill his victims. I commend director Bob Dahlin for giving us a sweet looking creature and resorting to very little non-live-action kill scenes. We do not get much in gore from the creature as per Dahlin’s direction, but thankfully the lack of sweet gore is made up for with everything else we are given in this film.
Overall, this is an awesome and very fun horror film to watch that defies the notion that you need gory goodness to put out a great horror film. If you are looking for a film that gives you a plot we rarely see coupled with fun direction and some good laughs then I highly suggest this film.