Directed by: Justin Timpane
Written by: Justin Timpane , Daniel Ross
Starring: Daniel Ross, Cory Okouchi, Jay Saunders
Running time: 88 Minutes
UK DVD release: 26th Jan 2015 from LEFT Films
Do you ever get the feeling that most people that talk about indie films all have big scraggly beards, marine tattoos and work part time at Starbucks? Yes my friends I talk, of course, about hipsters. These ‘Liked-it-before-it-was-cool’ douchebags will defend every small budget film to the death, just to show you how smart and cultured they are. ‘What do you mean you haven’t seen it?’
Luckily, every once in a while we get a movie like Ninjas vs Monsters, a film that is so terrible, so horrific, so cinematically criminal that if you tried to sell it to Tesco they would laugh themselves back into recession, and they bought ‘Sharknado’ for fuck’s sake. Roll that back, Bitch.
But don’t, I repeat DO NOT think that this means that I dislike this movie. This film is the best of the worst, it wears the phrase ‘So bad it’s good’ like a goddamned crown. The Transylvanian accents are horrific, the CGI is terrible and I could conjure up better fight scenes on my camera phone but that being said, it’s the film version of Crack. After the first five minutes, you cannot stop.
But what is it that makes this film so addictive? Is it the script? What about the editing, or a strong leading performance? No. It’s the director. The BIG THING that makes this movie stand out is Justin Timpanes obvious love for 1980’s movies. We’ve got over the top kung fu, Universal Monster ripoffs and so many pop culture references that I almost vomited up ‘Firefly’. It is a tongue-in-cheek homage to the films of our youth (or mine, anyway), but with a goofy, fun twist.
But this film does not stand alone; before Monsters, there was Ninjas vs Zombies and Ninjas vs Vampires, so you can’t help but get the feeling that it all started with a bunch of dudes sat around a couch playing ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if?’ For example, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if; a bunch of dudes who’d been given kickass magic ninja powers had to fight off werewolves, vampires and Frankenstein’s monster to save the world?’ The only difference is that these guys decided ‘Fuck it’ and actually filmed it.
But even though I love it, I have to admit this film doesn’t have too much going for it on a technical level. The script is patchy, the action shots are pretty weak and there are points where it’s painfully obvious that they didn’t have the budget for realistic effects, so they keep cutting between images to give you the message.
However, a lot of the camera work is actually pretty solid. It shows that they clearly had a good idea of they wanted without trying to be innovative and flashy, and these boys aren’t afraid to break the fourth wall either. But what really pulls the film out of the bag, surprisingly, are the performances.
For a film that most people would dismiss purely as ‘Fun’, there is some really great acting, most notably from Daniel Ross and Dan Guy, an actor so obscure that even Google doesn’t have a photo of him. Yes, they might epitomise everything that the world hates about America, but damn do they do it well.
So ‘Ninjas vs Monsters’ stands somewhere between the Power Rangers and Blade II, but with twice the charm and nerd cred of either. If you like horror films, watch Ninjas vs Monsters. It’s for your own good.