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Published by David Carter on 2015/3/25 (738 reads)
Directed by Chris Ethridge
Review by David Carter

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Released by MVD Visual
Running Time: 93 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: 2.0 Stereo English/English Subtitles
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen
16:9 Enhanced: Yes
Special Features: Commentary Track
Trailer Online: Yes

Open in new windowShort Version: Well-acted serial killer flick

The title ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER is evocative of horror movies of the fifties and sixties where small towns were besieged by some atomically enhanced beast. The villains in these movies were often just misunderstood; an otherwise peaceful creature driven insane – and often turned gigantic – by extraordinary circumstances. Although MORNINGSIDE has nothing to do nuclear radiation or giant animals, it’s not too far removed from the creature features of the fifties. The movie features a small town sheriff pitted against a vicious serial killer with methods and motives beyond his comprehension. Starring familiar faces like Nicholas Brendon and Tiffany Shepis, ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER is now available on DVD from Apprehensive Films/MVD Visual.

Sheriff Tom Haulk doesn’t have much to worry about in the small town of Morningside. Sure, drug dealer Clyde has a bustling criminal empire, but that’s not really a problem since it’s mostly confined to the handful of ne’er-do-wells in town. Everything changes when one of the aforementioned ne’er-do-wells is found butchered in the surrounding woods. The body is too badly massacred to be the work of wild animals and an eerie eyeball symbol is found at the scene, leading Tom and deputy Klara to believe they have a killer on their hands. Suspicion naturally falls to Clyde, but surveillance turns up nothing.

Open in new windowMeanwhile, Tom’s schoolteacher friend Mark is dealing with his wife’s deteriorating health due to cancer. Mark gets busted attempting to buy pot to help with the pain, forcing Tom to make a difficult decision between protecting his friend and enforcing the law. Mark is set free but the drug dealer is imprisoned, bringing the wrath of Clyde’s gang down on the meek teacher. Clyde and company don’t have time to harass Mark any more after two more of his associates are disemboweled by an unseen maniac. Forced to try to protect a criminal from a serial killer, Tom makes some disturbing discoveries about their mutual foe.

Open in new windowMORNINGSIDE MONSTER is built around its ending twist regarding the revelation of the killer and his/her motives. Most viewers will be able to figure it out before the characters do, but several strong performances keep the film watchable until the end regardless. Brendon, Shepis, and Robert Pralgo all do outstanding jobs here and keep the film engaging despite a familiar plot. The supporting cast is equally talented, and the caliber of the performances gives the film a significantly more polished feel than it would have had otherwise. A few brief moments of gore are well-executed but the film is more focused on the killer’s identity than the crimes themselves.

Newcomer director Chris Ethridge provides a commentary track on Apprehensive’s nicely done DVD. ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER straddles the line between drama and horror but ultimately ends up firmly in the drama camp. The film was honored as “best drama” at Fright Night Film Fest in 2014, and those of you looking for a film with well-realized characters and strong performances will be best served by the movie.
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