Welcome to Cult Corner where we dive through the bargain bins to determine if a movie is trash or treasure. Today’s pick… Randy Daudlin’s Bottom Feeder.
Bottom Feeder is another in a long line of “people get stalked by a monster in the sewers” movies that I’ve been covering on Cult Corner. Much like most of the others there isn’t really a whole lot of plot to go over. Sure, there’s some backstory to the creature involving a scientist, a betrayal, and a guy who looks like the Batman villain Two-Face if he were wheelchair-bound, but the film’s plot still boils down to a monster killing people.
With these kinds of movies it all comes down to the execution. It’s not the most original premise and the script isn’t as well-written as it could have been. That being said, I noticed almost immediately just how good this movie looks. The camera angles are pretty well-thought out, the lighting is very well-done, and the makeup effects are all great. The lighting especially does wonders whenever the monster is onscreen and makes it look relatively terrifying, despite the goofy nature of the whole thing. This looks like a real movie! I realize that statement doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement, but you’d be surprised how many similar films don’t even fit that description.
The characters aren’t all that well-written and come off pretty two dimensional, but the cast is still above average. I make no claims that they’ll be winning Oscars any time soon, but for the kind of movie this is everyone does a good job. Every one of them is giving their all and you can tell they were having fun with it. The film doesn’t take itself all that seriously and it’s apparent that the cast really understood that. If only they had more to do than simply try to survive then this could have been much more entertaining, especially considering the long boring stretch that doesn’t contain any monster action.
There-in lies the major downfall of movies like this. It takes approximately 41 minutes for the first real death scene to happen, and the long road to get there is an absolute chore to sit through. Despite the cast trying their hardest, the characters aren’t interesting enough and don’t have enough to do to really make up for the lack of action. In a complete twist however, once that death happens this film completely kicks itself into high gear. The monster appears and never goes away for long for the rest of the movie. The death scenes are gory and inventive, all done with some really nice practical effects work. They really mix things up, too. Instead of just limiting themselves to the monster showing up, killing someone, and slinking back into the shadows over and over again, they have tense chase scenes and one amazing phone call monster attack that had me laughing pretty hard.
As far as the monster itself, I absolutely love it. It’s a grotesque rat-man done completely with practical effects, looking somewhat like if Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shaved his whole body and grew a bunch of tumors. It’s a nice blend of creepy and hilarious, but the way they light every shot that it’s in definitely pushes it more towards the terrifying. It’s constantly dripping with the blood of its’ past victims and always partially in shadow. This creature is handled incredibly well for what it is.
Overall, Bottom Feeder is a lopsided movie, but ends on a really high note. It’s well-directed and acted, but the script leaves a lot to be desired. The first half is slow and terribly boring, but once it gets going it just doesn’t stop. The effects are great, the kills are fun, and I have to say I ended up enjoying the film. You could probably skip to about 41 minutes in and just watch all of the good stuff, but even with that first half I’m going to recommend it.
Here at Cult Corner we cover the weird and obscure. Given the low budget that these movies often have we feel the need to recognize that entertainment value and quality aren’t always synonymous. That’s why we have opted for the “trash or treasure” approach in lieu of a typical rating system. After all, Troll 2 is incredibly entertaining but it’s no 8 out of 10.