Copper miners in the tundras of Lapland discover a frozen piece of reptilian tail belonging to some unknown prehistoric creature. Taking the specimen to an aquarium in Copenhagen, Professor Martens gets more than he bargained for when the tail regenerates into a giant, acid spitting monster that terrorizes the country. The Danish military, led by U.N.-appointed American general Mark Grayson attempts to hunt down the monster and destroy it, only to realize that blowing the thing up will create hundreds of little creatures.
Directed by: Sidney W. Pink
. Starring: Bent Mejding
, Asbjørn Andersen
, Povl Wøldike
, Ann Smyrner
, Mimi Heinrich
, Dirch Passer
, Marlies Behrens
, Carl Ottosen
, Ole Wisborg
, Birthe Wilke
, Mogens Brandt
, Kjeld Petersen
, Jens Due
. Music by: Les Baxter
, Sven Gyldmark
Seeing a movie like this makes you wonder how it got to the big screen in the first place. That is, until you compare it to the straight-to-video schlock in stores today. "Reptilicus" is sort of like believing in Santa Claus. As a kid, you're excited about it. As an adult, you know better, but you're still drawn to it, if only for curiosity.
Don't get me wrong. The movie does have a few good scenes. The beginning where they find the original pieces is creepy. The tour of Copenhagen is nice, although you get the feeling it was pressed on produce Sid Pink by the Danish government. The scene where a Danish corvette (not the car, but a warship smaller than a frigate) depth charges Reptilicus is good because the Danish Navy agreed to let the producer film one of their maneuvers, so it's not stock footage.
Now to the bad (and there's oh so much of it). This film was hyped as the "Danish Godzilla," apparently because the original was hacked to pieces to make way for scenes friendly to American audiences. Unfortunately, Raymond Burr's added footage in "Godzilla" was head and shoulders above Carl Ottosen (who played an American, but was actually Danish).
That's only the beginning. The original Danish version had several scenes where Reptilicus flew. The Americanized version deleted that as being unbelievable. Instead, monster shoots acid slime, which actually looks more like someone spilled Heinz green ketchup across the screen. You never see anyone scarred or killed by the slime, unlike, say, the morgue full of dead and dying people in "Beast from 20,000 Fathoms."
The monster looks bad, really bad. There are some scenes where it looks halfway decent (like they actually had a special effects budget). The rest of time, Reptilicus looks like a marionette puppet. In fact, as you'll see at the end, the monster's head grows to about half the size of its body and when it falls down you hear the clank of metal because they had made the head out of cast iron.
The acting is actually the worst part of this movie. Several characters make no sense at all. Carl Ottosen is introduced as Gen. Mark Grayson, in charge of Danish defense, even though he's American (no wonder the French kicked us out). He and the other characters avoid the dubbing disasters of Japanese flicks, but they speak phonetically, joltingly and woodenly, as if they were reciting their lines during an English-As-A-Second-Language class. The character of Sven is important in the beginning, but later on he's just a fifth wheel. And the professor was just plain irritating, especially when he tells Gen. Grayson that it's not important how they kill the creature, just as long as the creature isn't scattered about.
An American lady scientist is introduced as a love interest and the professor just happens to have two nubile young daughters, although one is brunette and the other blonde. Karen, the brunette, is actually the hotter of the two, but her scenes are drastically cut because Sid Pink thought audiences would go for her blonde "sister." None of the three can act. In fact, the scene where the American woman and the blonde daughter each grab Sven by the collar and tell him they know how to make the knockout drug for Reptilicus is so hammy, it's a hoot. It plays more like a screen test for a college production.
The one good thing about this movie (or bad, if you're the Danish government) is the military. Some of the scenes are stock footage (such as the mobilization scene and the artillery barrage), but much of it was done with the cooperation of the military. Again, Sid Pink tried to imitate Toho Studios, which always got the Japanese Self-Defense forces to sign on for its monster movies. The only real problem is when Gen. Grayson decides to have a lowly captain as his on-site commander. Imagine a captain being in charge of the troops defending all of New York City.
There are also some completely unnecessary scenes. Sid Pink made a hefty donation to a local cycling club and the club responded by having its members ride off a drawbridge in a scene where, inexplicably, the bridge operator lifts the bridge when he sees Reptilicus coming. Since the monster is aquatic (and later swims right across the same canal), the scene makes absolutely no sense. Also, there's a scene where Grayson and his captain talk about how Reptilicus is sinking ships (more stock footage), attacking ports and destroying fishing villages, after which he heads right back to the waters off Copenhagen. Then, bam, the next scene shows a crowded beach in Copenhagen!
All in all, this was a really bad attempt by Denmark to join the giant monster era (a la Britain's "Gorgo"). Producer Sid Pink even admitted to committing just about every cinematic sin known to filmdom while making this movie. Still, the poor special effects and bad acting can still make for some good laughs and the film does have that Ed Wood-like ability to draw people to it, if only to liven up a dull Saturday night.
Review by Gregory Smith from the Internet Movie Database.