(Paul Lynch, Canada, 1982)

BY LAURA KERN | October 31, 2021

In what could be the fastest-resulting rape-revenge scenario in horror-movie history, a drunken lout brutally forces himself on a young woman, Ida (Shay Garner), during a family party in 1946, and directly after he’s through, is attacked by her dogs. While he’s lying there mauled and bleeding, his victim finishes him off by smashing his head with a rock. He’s dead before the opening credits roll.

Throughout those credits, Ida and her dogs are depicted via a series of still images, ending with a close-up of her haunted face, indicating that while her assailant may be gone, the trauma he inflicted will forever remain. The focus then moves 36 years into the future to a family consisting of two teenage brothers—Nick (John Wildman), a total hothead, and Eric (David Wallace), the more mature, sensitive one—and their likeably nerdy younger sister Carla (Janit Baldwin). They set out on their father’s yacht (with the guys’ girlfriends in tow) and on the first, frightfully foggy night, they come across a man in a lifeboat who warns them of rocks ahead and a nearby island where an old lady lives a life of seclusion with her dogs. Of course (after an idiotic move by Nick that causes their boat to go up in flames) they find themselves stranded there, where a hulking figure starts killing them off, as they work to uncover the mysteries of the island.

Paul Lynch is best known in the horror world for having made Prom Night two years earlier with the same screenwriter (William Gray, a co-writer on The Changeling, also from 1980), but this is the arguably better, more memorable film. It’s unsparing, intense, stylishly directed, and even quite sad. The “monster,” although mostly obscured until the end (much of the film is set at night and is extremely, some say overly, dark), and portrayed throughout as an inhuman killer, is to some degree a sympathetic villain, because we know what created him. Humongous, however, makes no efforts to delve into the psychological effects of being the result of rape, as a few recent movies have done. This is a slasher film, after all, and a solid one at that, with a standout score by John Mills-Cockell—one of the earliest users of the Moog synthesizer—and a terrific final girl. 🩸


is a writer, editor, and horror programmer based in New York. She is the editor of Bloodvine and her writing has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Film Comment, and Rolling Stone.

X: @killerkern

How to see Humongous

Scorpion Releasing’s 2017 Blu-ray release is now out of print, though a DVD somewhat confoundingly bundled with the Swedish action-thriller Eagle Island is still kicking around. But it remains hard to stream, aside from a pretty decent version on YouTube.
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