Reptilicus (1961)

resptilicus

Reptilicus starts on a mountain somewhere in Lapland where some miners searching for copper dig up a large chunk of flesh & blood, Professor Otto Martens (Asbjorn Andersen) & Dr. Peter Dalby (Povl Woldike) from the University of Copenhagen are on the case. Back at their laboratory they keep the the piece of flesh in a freezer, however the absent minded Dr. Dalby leaves the freezers door open & falls asleep for several hours so the flesh thaws out. At first when he finds out Professor Martens is angry but his anger soon turns to amazement when he realises the flesh is healing itself & beginning to regenerate, one night during a thunder storm it completely regenerates into a huge 100 foot reptilian snake like creature & after eating Dalby escapes into the sea. United Nations delegate General Mark Grayson (Carl Ottosen) & his Danish counterpart Captain Brandt (Ole Wisborg) are on the case & charged with destroying Reptilicus before it eats it’s way through the entire population of Denmark…

This Danish American co-production was co-written, co-produced & directed by Sidney Pink & has the unique but worthless claim to fame of being the only monster film to be made in Denmark, well it’s better than nothing I suppose. The script by Pink & Ib Melchior is your standard giant monster/alien/creature/insect/dinosaur on the loose plot that had been done 100’s of times before & 100’s of times since, so in that regard you couldn’t call Reptilicus original or anything new but at the same time I thought it was quite fun & no worse than any other giant monster on the loose film. To it’s credit it moves along like a rocket & I was never bored plus it takes itself extremely seriously which I liked & makes it even more fun to watch. The first half of Reptilicus concentrates on the mysterious chunk of flesh & it regenerating while the latter stages have the fully grown Reptilicus stomping his way through Denmark & the shift in styles works quite well. The character’s & dialogue were obviously written by someone without a perfect grasp of English, the accents & funny dialogue all add to the fun I suppose. Maybe I’m easily satisfied, I mean I’d rather watch a bad rubber monster like Reptilicus destroy lots of model buildings, spit green acidic slime & eat the odd person than watch any soap opera or reality TV show any day of the week, does that make me mad or weird somehow? If it does than so be it & because of the ending I’m always hopeful we’ll get a sequel…

Director Pink does OK, there’s not much style, Reptilicus doesn’t eat enough people, it’s not that exciting & the green slime he spits out never seems to do anything other than slide down the screen but at least he keeps things moving along at a fair pace. The special effects are predictably atrocious, Reptilicus himself looks awful. He resembles a long snake with wings & short legs, his mouth never really moves that much & most of the effects seem to be achieved using a glove puppet. The models aren’t too bad looking & no worse than those seen in a lot of monster films form this era. There’s a bit of blood & a decapitated cow head. When the American distributor AIP got hold of this film they cut out various scenes of Reptilicus flying, well I’ve seen these scenes & they do indeed look pretty bad & the film certainly doesn’t suffer from them not being there.

Technically I didn’t think Reptilicus was too bad apart from the poor special effects, a fair amount of effort seems to have been put into it with lots of scenes of people running & screaming through the streets of Copenhagen along with lots of military tanks, trucks, soldiers, warships & the like being used to decent effect to create a certain sense of panic & emergency. The acting is very stiff & awkward as Danish actors try to deliver American dialogue.