And You Call Yourself a Scientist!
MONSTER IN THE CLOSET (1986)
"Its our last hope. I repeat, we must act immediately. Destroy all closets!"
Director: Bob Dahlin
Synopsis: The quiet Californian university town of Chestnut Hills is terrorised by a monster which attacks from its victims' closets. In San Francisco, rookie reporter Richard Clark (Donald Grant), who has been writing the obituaries, begs his uncle-editor for a more important assignment. Believing that the killings in Chestnut Hills are old news, the editor and his star reporter, Scoop (Frank Ashmore), send Donald there as a joke. At the Chestnut Hills police station, Richard overhears science teacher Diane Bennett (Denise DuBarry) trying to explain her theory on the killings to the chief of police, and makes the acquaintance of Diane's young son, who is known as The Professor (Paul Walker). Donald goes to the university to talk to Diane and her mentor, Dr Pennyworth (Henry Gibson). Another killing occurs while Donald is having dinner at Dianes. A witness insists it was done by a monster that came out of the closet. The police force the monster out into the open, but it kills the police chief. The army moves in to combat the creature. Dr Pennyworth believes he has found a way to communicate with the monster, but it kills him instead. The army attacks, but their weapons are useless. Chestnut Hills is evacuated, but Diane and Donald stay in the town to fight the monster. Unbeknownst to his mother, The Professor has his own ideas on how to fight the creature, and he too stays behind....
Comments: Until its final sequence, when the smitten creature carries off the hero rather than the heroine, Monster In The Closet gets very little mileage out of the jokes inherent in its title. This is a pity, because the film could have done with some more jokes, obvious or otherwise. There are a couple of nice ideas here, but theyre few and far between. The best is probably the confrontation between Dr Pennyworth and the monster: he tries the Spielberg approach; it gives the Hawks/Nyby response. Otherwise, the films biggest asset is its monster, which is more impressive than you would expect (and is played by long-time rubber suit wearer, Kevin Peter Hall), and its cast. After a voice-over about "unexplained and inexplicable" events which (hopefully intentionally) resembles Criswells speech about "future events which will affect us in the future" from Plan Nine From Outer Space (1956), the film gives us a flurry of cameos, some appalling (John Carradine), some okay (Stella Stevens and Paul Dooley in a reasonable Psycho take-off). Donald Grant as inept reporter Richard Clark (the biggest surprise here is that he isnt called "Kent Clark" - its that kind of film) and Denise DuBarry as scientist Diane Bennett, who likes listing things as "(a), (b) and (c)" and serves appalling vegetarian meals, are both likeable, and occasionally break out of their cliched characters. Most unexpected is Paul Walker as child genius "The Professor". Hes not a brat, hes not obnoxious, and his brilliant invention doesnt work (name one mainstream movie where youd see that!). Henry Gibson as inevitable absent-minded scientist Dr Pennyworth, who likes lecturing people on the virtues of dissection, and Howard Duff as Dianes priest-uncle, give amusing support. Overall, this film could have been a hell of a lot better, but it could also - and very easily - have been a hell of a lot worse. Its an inoffensive way of killing ninety minutes.