Thursday, May 03, 2018

THROWBACK THURSDAY with MUNCHIES (1987) starring Harvey Korman

ER contributor and pal Devin Kelly mentioned 1994's MUNCHIE STRIKES BACK (starring Howard Hessman) the other day and it got me thinking about the post-GREMLINS (1984) wave of crazy critter cinema that produced such classicks as TROLL (1986), GHOULIES (1984), HOBGOBLINS (1988), SPOOKIES (1986) and, of course, CRITTERS (1986). 

But it also got me wondering about the relationship between MUNCHIE STRIKES BACK and 1987's MUNCHIES, exec-produced by Roger Corman for his Concorde Pictures. As it turns out, there's only a tenuous relationship as MUNCHIE STRIKES BACK director Jim Wynorski had lensed 1992's MUNCHIE (with Loni Anderson and Andrew Stevens!) after a request from Corman to create a MUNCHIES '87 sequel. Wynorski discarded the idea, came up with the more kid-friendly "Munchie" puppet and cracked the lucrative family flick market. The success of the first film led to the proposed sequel getting a sequel of its own, the aforementioned MUNCHIE STRIKES BACK.

Somewhere along the way I remembered that I reviewed the original (sic) MUNCHIES back when it was released on home video and thought I kinda liked it. After digging through a few back issues, here's my original review of MUNCHIES from MGM/UA Home Video from the pages of Exploitation Retrospect #9 (September 1987), complete with excessive use of commas.

Roger Corman made a career out of taking a hit film, stealing the idea, and then milking it shamelessly. That's my man. (For proof, see ALIEN and the Corman film FORBIDDEN WORLD.) Since leaving New World Pictures, Corman's output has slackened a bit, but his new arm, Concorde Pictures is finally beginning to pick up the slack.

Tonight, I watched MUNCHIES, a film Corman acted as Exec. Producer for. This is a blatant, shameless rip-off of the Steven Spielberg/Joe Dante film GREMLINS. Nothing new, since one of Dante's best films is PIRANHA. That flick, produced by Corman for New World, is a blatant, shameless rip-off of Steven Spielberg's JAWS. What goes around comes around don't it.

Starring Harvey Korman in a dual role (yes, an evil twin story), the pic tells the story of an archaeologist (Korman #1), who finds a creature that resembles a clearance table GREMLINS plastic toy from the local K-Mart. I can hear Corman now: "Ah, just slap some Vaseline and a piece of cloth on it and no one will know!"

Upon returning home, Korman's evil twin kidnaps the "Munchie" so that Korman #1 can't get the money to pay off his house or land or something. Complicating matters are Korman #1's son and his gal-pal, and Eddie the son of the local sheriff. Weird stuff.

There are a few good jokes, especially when the Munchies steal an AMC Gremlin, and the line "LA is like New Jersey, only with earthquakes." However, the film never goes beyond the "better than expected level".

One thing that really bothered me about the film was the musical score, which amounts to nothing more than a blatant rip-off of the music Danny Elfman composed for the film PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE. While this did bother me a bit, I shouldn't expect anything else from Corman. Ah well, give it two and a half stars. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of Exploitation Retrospect and reading his old reviews makes him cringe.

MUNCHIES (1987) is out of print and goes for more than expected on the secondary market like Amazon and eBay.

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