The Milpitas Monster (1976)

This one reminds me of Samuel Johnson’s quip about the dog standing on its hind legs:  The amazing thing is not how well it can do it but that it can do it at all….

The Milpitas Monster is one of those giant mutant creatures that gave us so much trouble back in the Fifties, only from the Seventies, and,  instead of radiation, this one was born of the toxic waste in the local landfill in the real town of Milpitas, California.

Don’t think Milpitas was just chosen randomly here.  This film was made by the filmmaking department at Milpitas’ Samuel Ayer High School.  In fact, it may be the first feature film ever made by a high school program.

So don’t be surprised when the film starts out with a brief quasi-history of “The Land of a Thousand Gardens”, narrated by none other than Paul Frees.  Or that we have lots of locals playing themselves.  Or that there are a lot of teenagers in the film.

Along the way, we get locals up in arms because of the terrible epidemic of…missing garbage cans; a creature taller than a high tension tower which no one ever notices; a young guy who isn’t manly enough for his girlfriend (who we know will probably have to save her eventually), practical joking teens; endless local references and ‘Hi Mom’ cameos;’ and the local drunk who is so attractive to the giant fly mutant monstrosity that he becomes their secret weapon…

The sound is poor, no one in the huge cast of characters ever really emerges as a strong character, and the creature itself vacillates between being a guy in a suit and a crude stop motion model which doesn’t look much like it.  There are are one or two passable scenes of miniature destruction, particularly when the creature attacks a local diner

For those acclimated to zero budget films like this, it is moderately entertaining.  Most of the time.  The average filmgoer might not be as indulgent towards its failings.

And in the end, there is one incontestable thing we can say about this crude but amiable and often amusing little film:

It’s amazing they could do it at all.

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