Attack Of The Beast Creatures (1985) Directed by Michael Stanley. Starring Robert Nolfi and Julia Rust, neither of whom made another movie beyond this one. The quarreling survivors of a shipwreck wash up on an island populated by tiny monsters.
We open with our protagonists stuck in a lifeboat in the North Atlantic. There’s heroic cruise ship crew member John, argumentative Morgan, upper-crusty Mrs. Gordon, doomed Pat, helpful Phil, helpless Cathy and Diane. Perhaps due to budgetary constraints, the actual cruise ship they came from and the accident that sank it are never shown. But everyone is clad in tuxedos and gowns, hinting that it was a high-end ocean liner. After being washed ashore on a beautiful island, they journey deep into the forest looking for drinkable water and possibly civilization.
Oddly, they leave behind survival supplies, first aid kits and a badly injured fellow passenger unattended on the beach.
Pat spies a sparkling stream winding through the trees and dunks his head, only to find out the hard way that the water is actually acid that dissolves his face as he screams. By the time he’s found, he’s a smoking skeleton floating facedown. They always say you should never drink the water.
Pat’s fellow survivors Morgan and John bury the dead man’s remains and try to keep the women out of it. “Attack Of The Beast Creatures” is the kind of flick where ladies gasp and faint at the sight of unpleasantness and men say manly things like: “Keep the women back! Don’t let them see!” No female character ever offers a strategy or a solution, but they do turn to their male companions and say things like: “What do you think we should do?” and “I’ll go along with that plan.”
Our first taste of future beast creature mayhem comes when Mrs. Gordon is busy picking wild berries for dinner and gets bitten by something unseen. Despite the rather large and bloody bite mark on her hand, no one seems particularly concerned.
After tromping around in the jungle for a bit, John decides to return to the beach to check on the bleeding guy they left alone and pick up some supplies.
It turns out he needn’t have hurried back. The wounded man is now a skeleton, having been devoured in about 15 minutes by something mysterious. John decides the best course of action is to cover the bones and tell absolutely no one. Later that night, his resolve breaks around the campfire and he tells Phil what he saw.
“What could pick a man clean to the bone in that short amount of time?”
Morgan, an older man who lives to antagonize everyone else, cock blocks John as he tries to hook up with Iowa farm girl Cathy. Just as their lips are about to meet in a fireside smooch, Morgan demands that John maintain the fire all night.
31 minutes in, and not a single monster.
All that changes in an instant. While Diane is busy keeping watch as the others sleep, they are suddenly attacked by dozens of shrieking 10-inch tall creatures with luminous white eyes. They bite necks, legs and faces while letting out an unearthly scream. And yes, they are hysterical to look upon.
The actors are obviously operating the puppets as they writhe and struggle with them. It’s not a one-sided assault: the humans toss one beast creature into the campfire, and bash in another’s skull with a spear.
After the initial attack, the surviving monsters flee into the darkness and the men discuss amongst themselves the next course of action. The women are not invited to take part in this conversation, as they are busy holding each other nearby and trying not to faint. No one seems properly amazed that they just encountered a life form previously unknown anywhere on Earth. The men casually discuss battle plans, as if weird-looking monsters come out of the woods to eat humans every day of the week.
The next morning, we get our first good look at a beast creature in the light. Blank white ping-pong ball eyes, long black hair and terracotta skin. It looks like someone made a Chia pet out of the Crites from “Critters.” During a lengthy hike to higher ground, the shipwreck survivors are repeatedly attacked by the beast creatures. They drop out of trees and land on shoulders or pop out of tall grass to bite legs.
In a clearing, we are treated to another epic attack sequence in which screaming humans hold beast creature dolls to their necks and thrash around violently. We lose several among the party to silly booby traps and acid lakes, discover the religious and cultural center of the beast creature’s lives and build to one of the most unexciting climaxes in horror history.
All in all, “Attack Of The Beast Creatures” is a deservedly obscure creature feature. The novelty of seeing the tiny monsters gathered in trees and glaring with their empty white eyes or running through the jungle after prey wears off pretty quickly, particularly since the denouement goes absolutely nowhere. I wouldn’t have minded learning where the monsters actually came from or how they were cursed with the idiotically redundant name ‘beast creatures.’ The film almost goes there when the humans stumble upon a massive Tiki statue worshipped by the little bastards, but this plot point is swiftly dropped. This is purely an early example of survival horror, a lengthy chase through the woods punctuated by screechingly loud puppet attacks and not much in the way of satisfying kills.
Like the title antagonists, it just kind of exists without reason.