★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Grindhouse meets documentary in the latest from Small Town Monsters.
Directed by Seth Breedlove
Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, The Mothman of Point Pleasant; creatures of legend that have been the subject of years of cryptozoological investigation. Dive into that Fortean pool and you’ll run across others; from the man-eating Piasa Bird of Alton, Illinois to the Beast of Bray Road in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. With their latest docudrama, MOMO: The Missouri Monster (2019), the Small Town Monsters gang haul yet another mysterious critter into the spotlight.
Unlike their previous documentaries which hold primarily to the traditional style of investigative filmmaking, MOMO: The Missouri Monster takes a new approach:
Merging the world of 70’s “Sasquatchploitation” cinema with our 9th documentary, this will mark a true departure for us, while exploring an exciting new storytelling style. … MOMO: The Missouri Monster marks the beginning of a bold, new direction for STM.From smalltownmonsters.com.
The end result is part documentary consisting of what you’d expect: footage showing the small (and somewhat confusingly named) town of Louisiana, Missouri where the alleged monster was seen, interviews with local residents who’d experienced the MOMO frenzy of the 1970s firsthand, and so on. And, stemming from Breedlove’s appreciation of grindhouse-style films, the remaining part of the film is made up of clips from a long-lost B-movie about MOMO terrorizing the small town.
The twist being that nobody ever made a movie (B-grade or otherwise) about the creature known as MOMO. All of the clips from the “long-lost B-movie” were completely made up for use in MOMO: The Missouri Monster to give the tried-and-true documentary style a bit more pizzazz. In fact, the entire Small Town Monsters docudrama is presented as an episode of “Blackburn’s Cryptid Casefiles”, a fictional late-night TV show hosted by the non-fictional cryptozoologist Lyle Blackburn.
Blackburn is a returning Small Town Monsters alum having narrated three of their previous documentaries: The Mothman of Point Pleasant (2017), The Bray Road Beast (2018), and Terror in the Skies (2019). His style is smooth and comfortable which makes him a great choice as the show’s “host” and interviewer.
As for the grindhouse-esque segments of the long-lost movie… initially, I found the transition from professional documentary to cheesy B-movie pretty jarring. I did get used to it and, ultimately, found it entertaining, but the filmmakers took a decent-sized risk with their new format.
The film segments were intentionally (as far as I know) made to look like they came from a pretty terrible ’70s monster movie. The acting is atrocious, the monster suit is of the guy-wearing-a-carpet variety, and the story gets pretty silly at times. Granted, it’s not meant to be a reenactment — it’s more an approximate record of events with embellishments — but unless you’re a fan of both documentaries and cheesy, so-bad-it’s-good monster movies, you might find MOMO: The Missouri Monster a tough one to sit through.
Of course, if you’re like me and you’ve got a soft spot for cryptozoology, documentaries, and schlocky B-movie fare, you’ll probably have a good time with this one.
MOMO: The Missouri Monster will be available September 20th on DVD, as well as Vimeo OnDemand, Amazon Instant Video, and VIDI Space.
Review by Robert Zilbauer