The Horrific Evil Monsters is director Adam Steigert’s shared universe film, an Avengers-esque bringing together of characters from across his multiple films that melds action, sci-fi, horror, and comedy into an engaging, briskly paced good time. T.H.E.M. clocks in at a lean 70 minutes, a much tighter runtime than the usual two hours-plus for blockbuster films with epic aims.
It definitely enhances the experience if you’ve seen the other films, but still works solidly as a stand-alone for those without familiarity. Viewers new to Steigert won’t be lost, but are encouraged to seek out the earlier works (several of which I’ve also reviewed and are linked below) to see more of these characters, actors, and backstories.
Writers Adam Steigert and Kristin Steigert (also appearing as an agency doctor) have developed a world in which earthly (and unearthly) forces battle new versions of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The heroic roster includes:
Anna (Kaylee Williams)–a young woman who as a newly turned zombie, is both sympathetic and formidable.
Producer Norman Queeno’s Gore–a menacing, hulking slasher, with shades of Myers/Leatherface/Voorhees who can be controlled…at times by the agents on the hero side, led by returnee Christopher Brechtel as Mick and Xia Orozco as Mrs. Unknown.
The late Michael O’Hear reprises his FANG character Sanders, a Dr. Loomis-esque tracker (with a secret of his own), in a poignant final performance that is both strong and bittersweet.
Sean C. Sanders as scythe-wielding Grim (Reaper that is).
Along with the odd couple team of Alex Creed and Obji.
A kooky, high energy knife infomercial scene with Dawna Lee Heising shows that the former action star Alex Creed (Bishop Stevens) has been reduced to selling knives via infomercial. It has some of the feel of the great Microwave Marge bits from Gremlins 2: The New Batch, infused with the manic energy of Tammy Faye Bakker.
Bishop Stevens with Dawna Lee Heising
Creed is a memorable, charismatic Terry Crews-evoking character that has great chemistry with his co-stars, including Will Nemi as an analytical alien named Obji–with a silent “J”– whose scenes together have a clever buddy-cop comedy feel. Good comic timing is key and on display with both characters.
On the adversary side:
The always entertaining Gregory Blair gives a fiercely committed performance as the sinister Famine.
Jennie Russo projects an assured strength, both vocally and physically, as the cloaked Conquest.
Jason John Beebe is the intense, Spartan-esque incarnation of War.
Producer Michael Zsiros has a great look and presence as Death. Michael Sciabarrasi is missed, however as the layered, multi-dimensional Magoo, the standout character version of Death seen in A Grim Becoming.
Returning actors Melodie Roehrig, Chris Barbis, and Theo Kemp have enjoyable cameos reprising their roles.
Exterior shots, in particular, some memorable downtown scenes, give a sense of scope and scale on a smaller budget. Costuming and makeup-effects are creatively and effectively used, along with digital SFX, to push the limits of the budget and give the film as big/epic a feeling as possible.
The baddies wreak havoc downtown.
The result is an ambitious, fun flick that is more entertaining and decidedly invested with greater enthusiasm, heart, ingenuity, and dedication than most “mockbuster” (and many blockbuster) titles that fill Redbox.
The film has its online premiere on 5/15/21 on vimeo here.
To read my reviews of other films in this shared Steigert universe, click the links below:
–Cory Graham, 2021