That Little Monster DVD Review
Review written by Peter West
DVD released by Elite Entertainment
Written and directed by Paul Bunnell
1994, Region 1 (NTSC), 56 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on July 30th, 2002
Melissa Baum as Jamie
Reggie Bannister as Twelvetrees
Andi Wenning as Mrs. Willock
William Mills (II) as Mr. Willock
Forrest J Ackerman as Edward Van Groan
That Little Monster is a gem of a movie that can easily escape one's attention. Thanks to Elite Entertainment, this movie will get the broader recognition it deserves. Set in a futuristic, retro 50's world far away, Jamie (a foreign exchange student, smartly played by Mellisa Baum) is hired to baby sit "Baby Wolper." After we are warned by horror movie legend Forrest J. Ackerman (long time editor and publisher of Famous Monsters of Filmland), that there were "No babies harmed in any way during the filming of this movie", we meet Jamie waiting to be interviewed by Mr. & Mrs. Wilcock, the baby's parents. Jamie is initially entertained by the Willcocks' resident standup comedian Twevetrees (an entertaining portrayal by Reggie Bannister of Phantasm fame). The Willcocks' seem a bit concerned about whether Jamie will be able to handle the young Wolper since although he is cute and cuddly, he's "a little monster." They rephrase that as being spoiled.
The Willcocks then leave for a costume party, but not before Mr. Willcock serenades young Jamie. Adorable young Jamie is warned by Twevetrees to watch her back as he departs for the evening, leaving Jamie alone with baby Wolper. Jamie then explores this home, which has some of the gaudiest of furnishings! Director Paul Bunnell uses his own vintage 1956 B&W television as a prop on which Jamie watches a very old Bob Hope movie. Jamie's attempt to give Wolper his bedtime bottle soon leads to a evening of terror, concluding with Wolper's only speaking line: "E.T. go home!" In the film's credits, Bob Hope does a cameo with a few promotional one liners. (This film is filled with little homages to Bob Hope.)
Filmed over a period of 3 1/2 years on the most modest of budgets ($30,000), That Little Monster was initially conceived as an episode for the television series "Monsters". However, the death of the series producer led to that project being scrapped. Director Paul Bunnell, sure that his concept was worthy of presentation, then proceeded to make That Little Monster into a 56 minute short film. That Little Monster does not overwhelm the viewer with plot. Instead, it assaults your senses! Bunnell's directorial style is a portrait of stunning visualizations. The long delays between filming have the star, Mellisa Baum, with long, short, blonde or dark hair at times. This is hardly noticeable unless mentioned. You can't even notice scenes where Mellisa is quite pregnant!
Video and Audio:
Filmed on 16mm film in a full frame presentation, the movie is surprisingly free of noticeable flaws. What might be considered grainy is actually the way the image is supposed to be presented. Some scenes have this foggy mist about them, followed by another that is as sharp as can be! The lighting is extraordinary considering the resources available for a film of this small budget. Craig Bassuk's photographic genius is quite apparent!
I am presuming the soundtrack is mono, it is a smorgasbord of different themes. At times it is thrilling other times comedical! A lack of 5.1 surround does this film no injustice, very entertaining overall!
There is a very interesting commentary by Director Paul Bunnell and Editor/Producer Carl Mastromario. The commentary is light-hearted and well worth a listen! It provides a history of the project as well as behind the scenes information on sequences and filming.
Included is a 19 minute short film by Bunnell called The Visitant. After the death of his son, a man is haunted by the undead while visiting his son's grave. Slightly showing some deterioration from age, this short film is a excellent glimpse into Bunnell's early filmmaking.
There is also a sort television interview with Paul Bunnell, where we get to see a little bit of man behind the film. Bunnell is some character!
Prior to writing this review I watched this movie a half-dozen times at least. Each time I spot something missed in a previous viewing. Bunnell & Bassuk overwhelm your visual senses! A throwback to the B&W suspense thrillers of the late '50s and early '60s That Little Monster is the winner of the Golden Scroll Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films. I'm confident this film will win a place in your hearts as well! A must buy with a high viewer recommendation!