Movie Information

In Brief: Reptilicus (1961) is probably the best film Sidney Pink ever made. And if you've seen it, you will realize the enormity of that statement. It's also the best giant monster movie ever to come out of Denmark. It's also the only one, so that doesn't keep it from being easily the most laughably bad giant monster movie ever made, which is its major charm. The title horror is so poorly conceived that even Toho technicians — nay, even the guys who created The Giant Claw (1957) — must have laughed. That it spits green radioactive slime is a plus. It must be seen to believed. The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Reptilicus Thursday, Sept. 25, at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
Genre: Giant Monster Horror
Director: Sidney Pink (Journey to the Seventh Planet)
Starring: Bent Mejding, Asbjorn Andersen, Poul Wildaker, Ann Smyrner
Rated: NR



Reptilicus is perhaps the damndest thing your eyes will ever behold. I mean that in the nicest possible way. This is no mere bad movie. This is the bad movie to end all bad movies. It is one of those cinematic experiences where you spend most of the picture wondering, “What the hell were they thinking?” On the other hand, if it was any good, it would hold almost no interest whatever — just another giant monster movie. As it stands, it’s a virtual encyclopedia of very bad ideas strung together into something vaguely resembling a motion picture.




It exists because Pittsburgh-born shoestring schlockmeister decided to make this really dumb monster movie and went all the way to Denmark to do so. Since his primary interest was the U.S. market, he shot the damned thing twice — once in Danish and once in English. That sounds fairly reasonable, I guess, except it meant American characters who sounded like El Brendel impersonators. It didn’t matter, though, because American International Pictures dubbed the already English-speaking film into English. That’s why the mouth movements match, but it still sounds like a handful of people did all the voices in a sub-standard sound studio. AIP also cut the film by about ten minutes.While this was mostly to cut down on the strained comedy of Dirch Passer (popular in Denmark, but rightfully unknown in the U.S.), but it also involved the removal of scenes of flying Reptilicus. You will notice that the creature has wings (sort of), but they’re never used — in the U.S. prints. The idea that AIP removed these scenes because they might draw laughs is…quaint considering everything else about the monster.




The idea of the movie is that some copper mining outfit uncovers the tail — the tail, mind you — of some prehistoric creature and call in the scientists, who take the lump of frozen meat back to Copenhagen. Cutting to the chase, the tail is like the tiny acorn from which the mighty oak grows. That is, they accidentally grow an entire creature from this slab of meat. Naturally, it goes on a rampage. But what a rampage it is! You see, the monster is some kind of ill-defined mixture of dragon, serpent, dinosaur, winged reptile, and the nightmare of a rarebit fiend. It’s also one dopey looking puppet. Yes, puppet. Oh, I know, you’re objecting that so — in some shots — is Godzilla. This is much more hokey than that. This never, never looks like anything but a puppet. In addition to this, it spits up some kind of green slime that looks suspiciously like someone has scratched through the film emulsion with a pin. Worse, there’s never any real payoff to this. We sometimes see a really bad optical effect of green goo cover the screen, but we never see what effect is has. It’s all quite remarkable, but also perhaps unique in that it’s a movie even eight-year-olds will feel superior to. And in the bargain, it’s pretty funny.

The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Reptilicus Thursday, Sept. 25, at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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4 thoughts on “Reptilicus

  1. DrSerizawa

    Reptilicus achieves heights delirium that lesser directors only dream of achieving. From the heavily forested Acrtic Circle to the Old Scientist’s laughter over his daughters vying to be the first to have sex with Sven to the mugging of Dirch Passer to the laughter of the crowd fleeing in “terror”….. Reptilicus reaches a sublime level of directorial delusion that modern self-aware horror movies can never equal. Even the ending is years before it’s time. Today all horror movies don’t really end and are set up for a never ending franchise. This wasn’t always the case. It took visionaries like Sid Pink to set the stage of “twist” endings. Today horror directors can proudly point to Sid Pink and other directors of the same ilk as their inspiration for their creative “twist” endings. In fact I seldom see a horror or scifi movie as entertaining as Reptilicus. James Cameron could have improved Avatar immensely if he’d spent a few hours serially watching Pink’s movies. Elysium would also have benefited by more Pinkishness. Though in that case Jodi Foster could well have been channeling Sid. I salute Reptilicus. It will still be watched many years from now when most scifi movies with huge budgets are forgotten.

  2. Ken Hanke

    While I enjoy — every so often — the unintentional mirth found in Reptilicus, I don’t think I can quite subscribe to the idea that old Sid was a visionary. More likely he saw that question mark at the end of The Blob or that shot of the Giant Claw‘s claw sticking out of the water and…borrowed them. After all, its lack of self-awareness may just be a combination of incompetence and contempt for its intended audience. This, by the way, is not to defend Avatar or Elysium.

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