It’s 2017 and the world still doesn’t know that Monsters known as Yablo are real. Enter P.H.A.S.E, an international team of scientists and soldiers thrown together in rural Philippines to keep man and monster separate and safe. This is Randal Kamradt’s The Monsters Without.
There is a lot to like about Randal Kamradt’s The Monsters Without, although it is a very difficult film to categorise due to it being such a mishmash of numerous genres. With the word monsters in the title, there’s a genuine horror vibe that flows throughout the film, but there is also a lot of comedy, fantasy, sci-fi, action, and adventure elements too. It’s a film that packs so much into its 88-minute runtime that, due to some well-organised direction, it never drags and is constantly moving forward.
The best thing about The Monsters Without is the familiarity that it breeds in its audience. We feel like we have seen this film before and, because there are so many nods and pastiches of other films and TV shows molded into the script, in a way we have. But whereas this familiarity would normally suggest cliché, thanks to Kamradt’s genuine love for his influences, these moments become very enjoyable.
You could watch The Monsters Without many times and just spend the entire run-time pointing out the numerous Easter eggs embedded in the film. I spotted nods to The Ring, The Descent, The Thing, Ghostbusters, The Dirty Dozen, Godzilla, The Triffids, Night Breed, Time Bandits, Lord Of The Rings, Dr. Who, Dr. Moreau, Night Of The Living Dead, Scooby-Doo, and the original Star Trek series and all from just one viewing.
The cinematography by Frederick Duarte is also a major positive; I can imagine that trying to keep up with his director’s flights of fancy during filming was a difficult job but he manages to match Kamradt’s ideas with some great imagery. There are Super 8 style shots in the beginning, drone footage of the beautiful Philippine scenery later, with some strikingly framed scenes in jungles, caves, and even a hotel resort.
My only complaint would be the colour grade of the film, as some of the images seem too crisp and clean at times. A darker tint over the entire print would make the film be less like an episode of Dr. Who and more of a cinematic experience. The middle of the film delves more towards the comedy aspect as opposed to the horror with a few laughs, but there are a couple of decent action sequences that liven up proceedings, the final showdown meanwhile claws back some of its horror credentials.
I also need to highlight the great work by special make-up effects artist Jacqueline Holden who, despite working with a tight budget, manages to create some excellent creature effects using make-up and costumes. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the special CGI effects which are more hit-and-miss, wavering between spectacularly good and spectacularly bad. The acting occasionally wavers too, but in the end, The Monsters Without is such a cheesy, entertaining flick that these minor quibbles fade into the background and in no way hinder our enjoyment.
Randal Kamradt is a director who certainly knows his way around schlocky horror, if Cannon Films were still around he’d certainly be on their radar. Meanwhile, The Monsters Without is the perfect film for Troma’s current streaming service and they would be wise to get him on the phone and give this low-budget schlocker a place on their roster.
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