Horror of the Humongous Hungry Hungan

May 2, 2011 at 12:07 am (8 Heads, Horror of the Humongous Hungry Hungan) (, , , , , , )

Horror of the Humongous Hungry Hungan – 1991 – United States

I threatened to write this review in Video Vodou’s first post. Finally, at the fifty post milestone, here we are. Horror of the Humongous Hungry Hungan (originally The Hungan) is another dusty 80s flick renamed by Troma. Hungan’s voodoo ties are tenuous, more so since Hungan’s killer creature might not be the titular hungan at all. My personal interpretation: the corpse creature was animated by another hungan behind-the-scenes, but who knows with a plot this scatterbrained.

Narrator Jack Palance (!) recites eerie voodoo narration, as a young couple hikes on a fall day. From a graveyard (with dimestore graves and a billowing fog machine), the creature rises, looking like a hobo with an alien claw. He cackles reverberantly, “Hahaha! I’m going to get you kiddies!” and murders the couple, except it’s only a dream. After a long credit roll with grinding doom metal, the plot gets underway. On an interior set like a combination hospital, laboratory, and science classroom, two doctors perform necromantic experiments and debate typical man-plays-god issues. The creature comes to life and barfs slime. One doctor shouts, “You took a grant to research a cure for cancer and used it to create a beast!” before the other murders him and the creature kills everyone else. Gory non-sequiturs follow as the living corpse massacres interns, waitresses, and homeless people.

Meanwhile, young people throw a “going away party” before their camping trip. There’s a Peewee Herman impersonator and Cry Wolf, a crappy rock band. Cry Wolf will be namedropped repeatedly in later lines like,  “You got the Cry Wolf tape?” and “There was this great band there, Cry Wolf. You ever heard of them?” Overlong crowd shots depict people half-assedly dancing (plus the only black dude rocking out hard). After one and half Cry Wolf songs, the party ends and the next day everyone goes camping. The creature shows up and claws people in the woods before being blown up by a homemade firework gun. In the downer ending, the lead youth is hospitalized and his friends and girlfriend are dead. The girlfriend’s bitchy mom shows up and blames him in screeching fit.

As a voodoo wizard, I can authoritatively say that Hungan lacks any actual voodoo. The creature (not a hungan) is a run-of-the-mill killer corpse. There are three (very) brief scenes of a robed woman with an altar of candles and a voodoo doll, but her relationship to the creature and his victims is never developed. My personal theory is that she’s the bitchy mom, out for revenge against her daughter’s boyfriend, but I pieced that together by interpreting the subtlest of hints.

As expected, Hungan is a technical mess with overbearing lighting, arbitrary compositions, awkward edits, and cheesy wipes. The acting is similarly rough (even for this caliber of flick) and the script is just bewildering. That said, Hungan is lots of fun. It’s apparent (especially seeing the outtakes) that the cast and crew are having a blast. The extended party scene is likely a real party, likewise with the camping. The actors seem very comfortable together and I suspect the only convincing lines were adlibbed. In his book “All I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger”, Troma co-owner Lloyd Kaufman describes the Toxic Avenger as having “a rawness and messiness about it that gives it a sense of veracity. Here was a movie with the seams showing, which made it all the more approachable from the audience’s point of view.” I feel the same about Hungan. It’s as if I’m only one step removed from the moviemaking process and it’s easy to like the product when you feel included in its creation. Hungan is inspiring, showing that in the highly collaborate art of moviemaking, love and energy is more important than money or skill.

Rating: 8/10 Shrunken Heads. Hungan, I love you.

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