Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Reptilicus (1961)

Poster for Reptilicus (1961)Reptilicus (1961) by #PoulBang #SidneyWPink
w/#AnnSmyrner #MimiHeinrich

After copper miners discover part of the frozen tail of a prehistoric monster, scientists inadvertently bring it back to life.

“Invincible…Indestructible! What was this awesome BEAST born 50 million years out of time?”

“See a mighty city trampled to destruction!“

#Horror #SciFi

Last week, I talked about one of the best monster movies of its era, The Fly (1958). This week I am doing almost the exact opposite (not by design, mind you, simply by chance) by talking about Reptilicus (1961). I had never heard of this movie. It was not one that I saw on Not Quite Classic Theatre all those years ago. I don’t think I’d ever even read about it in any of the books I have about old monster movies. Basically, I knew nothing about it before projecting it onto the old home drive-in screen last week…

…and maybe I should have kept it that way.

I’m mostly joking (sort of). Reptilicus is a bad movie, I think most people would agree. It gets a 3.6 on the IMDb (as of this writing). One reviewer on the IMDb says: “While it is far from the worst monster movie ever made, Reptilicus has very little to recommend it.” This is a fairly accurate statement. It’s not truly the polar opposite of The Fly (1958). I might suggest a movie like The Giant Claw (1957), which is so wonderfully bad that it is a pure delight to watch (as I wrote about a while back). Or possibly a movie like The Creeping Terror (1964), which is so horribly bad that it’s very hard to sit through (or so it seemed to me the last time I watched it). That one rates a 1.9 on the IMDb, by the way. 

Reptilicus is neither so bad it’s wonderful, nor so bad it’s torture. It’s just bad. 

That’s not to say there aren’t things to enjoy about it. It has a few moments of inspired lunacy. Just not quite enough of those moments to provide a truly classic  – or Not Quite Classic – movie watching experience. But it’s an acceptable way to pass an hour and a half if you’re not too demanding.

Reptilicus is literally the first, last – and only – giant monster movie ever to come out of Denmark. This is perhaps one of the things that makes it feel just a little strange to me. It’s not quite a Hollywood monster movie. Neither is is a British horror film, or any other kind of recognizable brand of B-movie. It has some things in common with those other movies, but it also feels kind of unlike any of them. Put another way, it feels like it wants to be a Hollywood monster movie, but it just doesn’t quite feel… right. 

I suppose you could compare it to a Spaghetti Western. I happen to love Spaghetti Westerns, but if a person unfamiliar with them were to watch one expecting to see a Hollywood Western, it would probably feel just a little bit off to them. My cousin once handed me a DVD set of Spaghetti Westerns and said “They’re basically just bad copies of Hollywood Westerns, but,…”. I didn’t quite agree with him, but I knew what he meant.

Reptilicus (1961) is not just a bad copy of a Hollywood monster movie, but it is most definitely #NotQuiteClassicCinema. I probably won’t be revisiting it too many times in the future, but for those who love bad Godzilla (1954) knock-offs (and I suppose I should have looked at it through that lens… but it’s really nothing like a Japanese movie, either), it’s probably worth screening at least once on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.