Monster Cops: The Midnight Special Movie Review
Written by Steve Pattee
A Whether the Weather Production
Ghouls and familiars are vampire slaves. And you’ll know a vampire slave because it’s the only guy in the room that looks like he’s shopping off the Hot Topic clearance section. – Cutter
Written and directed by Patrick Prejusa
2006, 98 minutes, Not rated
Patrick Prejusa as Cutter
Mark Tabije as Bryce
Andrew Johnson as Nigel
Terry Thomas as Bateman
Mark Holcomb as Hoss
Roy Bufis as Barker
Lamar Hanks as Cerullo
Sheri Adams as Lilly
When there’s a fire, you call the fire department.
When there’s a mugging, you call the police.
A kidnapping, the F.B.I.
A lonely model in need of love, me.
But who do you call to report a zombie attack? A vampire sighting?
You call Shadow Company. The monster cops.
A top-secret branch of the government, the men of Shadow Company step in and handle what the normal police can’t.
This is their story.
When I first saw Monster Cops: The Midnight Special trailer, I said to myself, “I have to see this.”
When the screener arrived, I suddenly had a fear. “What if all the best stuff was in the trailer?”
Hell, Hollywood does that all the time — put all the good stuff in the trailer and leave you with a lot of nothing.
I had high hopes for Special, but, at the same time, I was expecting to be disappointed. That’s just the way it usually plays out.
Fortunately, what I was expecting and what I got were two radically different things.
Special is a cross between TV’s ”Cops” and a film by Christopher Guest (Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman). It has the look and feel of “Cops,” but it also has the humor of a Guest mockumentary. And, like a Guest movie, there is a definite story arc that ties up nicely at the end. Writer/director Patrick Prejusa could have taken the easy road and just filmed a bunch of scenes and thrown them together with no bigger goal, and it still would have worked. Instead, he put in a conflict, the possibility of Shadow Company being shut down, and rolled with it. And, even more interestingly, much of what you see and hear comes into play by the end of the movie. There are a lot of seemingly unimportant things going on that end up actually being a much bigger part of the movie.
Like an episode of “Cops,” a film crew follows different agents around, filming how they handle different situations like zombie bites and vampire sightings. I couldn’t help but hum the “Cops” theme song at parts, because it really did capture the feel of an episode.
Like a Guest movie, a documentary crew interviews the members of Shadow Company and keeps the cameras rolling until the members say something completely insane, because they don’t know when to stop talking. I suppose a camera in your face does that.
Special’s biggest strength, and what Prejusa should be most proud of, is the acting. Considering what type of movie Special is, the wrong actor could potentially ruin it. But every major player came through. They all were great. Admittedly, Prejusa himself, as Cutter, and Lemar Hanks, as Cerullo, made me laugh the most, but there were lines from every character that brought a chuckle. To be fair, Hanks was even funnier when he was with Andrew Johnson, who played Nigel, the guy who may or may not be Scottish. And Prejusa was better when he was rolling with Mark Tabije, who played Bryce, the guy who is Mexican. Or maybe Filipino. Something tropical.
Mark Holcomb, who plays Hoss, has his moments, too. As does Terry Thomas, who portrays Bateman. Who may or may not be gay. And while Roy Bufis and Sherry Adams (who play Barker and Lilly, respectively) have smaller parts, they each have their moments.
This is as close as you are going to get to a level playing field in a low-budget movie. And that’s a good thing.
But the strong acting isn’t the only thing going for Special. The script — if there was one — is laugh-out-loud funny. There are so many quotes I would love to throw in the review, I'd end up just copying and pasting the entire script. It's that good. Much of it seems to be ad-libbed (and, in mockumentaries, that usually is the case) and the editing is fantastic.
Special doesn’t need blood, guts and gore. It has guns, ghouls and whole lot of comedy. A distribution company would be a fool not to pick this up.
Audio, video and special features will not be graded, as this is a screener.
If it were big-budget, or at least more widely available, Monster Cops: The Midnight Special would be on the level of Office Space or Napoleon Dynamite for quotability. And just like Space and Dynamite, those who get the quotes will laugh, those who don’t will only stare in befuddlement. When this gets picked up for distribution, buy it. You don’t want to be Barry Befuddled.
(Equipment includes a Mitsubishi WS-48613 48” HDTV, Sony DVP-CX875P DVD player and Onkyo HTS-770 Home Theater System and, in some cases, a Sony 27” WEGA TV and a Sony DVP-NS50P DVD player.)