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Banana Monster


Banana Monster

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Written and directed by a very, very young John Landis—who also spends much of the film running around in a cheap-but-impressive monkey suit designed by Rick Baker—1971's Banana Monster, otherwise appropriately known as Schlock, tells the story of the title creature, a missing-link sort of fellow who runs amok and terrorizes a California town. An extremely silly, low-budget parody of such films as Frankenstein and King Kong, Banana Monster nevertheless displays many of the traits that would lead Landis to become arguably the world's top maker of films beloved by multiple generations of frat boys. Grounded in Landis' abiding love of silly gags, cheap monkey suits, monster movies, inside jokes, and women with large breasts, Banana Monster contains many of the gags and themes found in such later Landis classics as Kentucky Fried Movie, albeit in embryonic form. Unfortunately, though, while Landis' debut is clearly the work of the same smart-ass college film geek who would go on to make smart, funny films like Animal House and An American Werewolf In London, it also shows that even then Landis needed artistic collaborators with more to offer than just use of their rec rooms for interior shots. The jokes essentially stop coming about 20 minutes into the 80-minute Banana Monster, giving the last hour or so a palpable we're-making-this-shit-up-as-we-go-along vibe, but anyone looking for nothing more than a film in which John Landis runs around in a monkey suit for 80 minutes won't likely be disappointed. However, if you're looking for a movie that's as funny or as consistent as his best later work, you'll likely find Banana Monster just a little bit underwhelming.