Lucky me! I was in the mood for a good ol’ monster matinee and I found one. It ain’t exactly Ingmar Bergman, but it gets the job done; the horror movie equivalent of a shot and a beer. Creature more than meets the minimum daily requirement of gore and casual nudity, with just enough plot to complement, rather than complicate, the visual carnage.

A half-dozen camping buddies pitch their tents in a remote patch of the Louisiana bayou (“They’re dead already!” I shouted gleefully at the dogs) after being told the tale of Grimly, a local legend that haunts the vicinity searching for food—and a bride. (Note to Doomed Campers: Is your skepticism really more powerful than the possibility that a local legend has some basis in fact? Use your heads people!) Anyway, Grimly is a monstrous human-gator hybrid worshipped by the indiginous population (hillbillies swamp rats), who pass the time of day steering tourists toward the wonders of the bayou. I’m not sure what the swamp rats get out of this arrangement, but Grimly has a well-stocked pantry and uh, lots of brides. Yes, I am fully aware that the suggestion of a gator-man having its way with some unfortunate lass is going to be a deal-breaker in some households, but the concept does goes back to Greek mythology, for Pete’s sake. Plus, there’s no onscreen miscegenation. And in the interest of full disclosure I’ll also mention there’s a recurring subplot about incest. Taboos mean nothing when you live in a swamp, I suppose.

The campers are actually a better lot than the usual walking cliches, thankfully eschewing the brain-dead Jock-Nerd-Stoner-Slut-Virgin hierarchy. Instead we get a pair of not-too-stupid veterans from Afghanistan, a weird brother and sister team (sshhh!), and the soldiers’ nubile girlfriends, who have no qualms about doffing their duds when the mood strikes them. The swamp rats include name actors Sid Haig (Chopper) and Pruitt Taylor Vince (Grover) who both lend dependable gravitas to Fred Andrews’ often distracted direction. Speaking of Sid Haig, there’s even a Spider Baby reference! As for the monster itself, after suffering through an endless parade of shitty CGI creatures that look like they were created on an old Amiga computer, a big guy in a halfway decent rubber suit works just fine for me—even though at times Grimly suspiciously resembles an off-duty Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sans shell.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to the Louisiana film industry, who seem to be doing a bang-up job of luring horror movie companies to the bayou country, pumping needed money into local economies. Strong work, one and all!

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