THE MONSTER OF HIGHGATE PONDS marks the rather desultory end to the great Alberto Cavalcanti’s film-making life. A kids’ film, it lacks the crazed imagination of Michael Powell’s THE BOY WHO TURNED YELLOW (itself a not particularly noble conclusion to a distinguished career), and seems to have been made with little care or love. The kids’ performances are variable, and no effort seems to have gone into improving them. The overall feeling is a lack of focus.

The monster himself is a disappointing carnival costume, except at the beginning where (rather like ALIEN) he hatches as a cute little creature no bigger than a chihuahua, and at the end, when he gets a close-up. These shots are animated by the esteemed Halas & Bachelor, who also made the CIA-funded ANIMAL FARM. I have no idea if American government money went into this one, but I doubt it.

The only real interest, beyond the sadness engendered by Cav lending his talents to this project, then failing to deploy them, is the resemblance the opening sequences have to a childhood nightmare of mine, where a small lizard caught on a fishing trip developed to crocodilian proportions and took over the house. And even that’s only interesting to me.

6 Responses to “Pondlife”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by dcairns. dcairns said: Cavalcanti's monster movie — for kids! https://dcairns.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/pondlife/ […]

  2. This looks interesting.

    I rate The Boy Who Turned Yellow WAY higher than you do.

  3. It certainly has its fans. I was sorry I couldn’t reassess it at the Edinburgh screening this year. Apart from the redoubtable Esmond Knight’s appearance, the most interesting aspect for me was the appearance of Lem Kitaj, sone of the famous painter, who is a remarkable screen presence. And now a successful screenwriter under the Huston-inspired name Lem Dobbs.

    The Cavalcanti doesn’t show such signs of life, but it has a certain naive charm I guess.

  4. Just got my hands on one of Cav’s Brazilian movies — at last! Now all I have to do is learn Portuguese and I’m away.

  5. John Seal Says:

    That thing looks a bit like Muffin the Mule.

  6. It’s a bit more impressive technically, at least when it’s animated. The big version is like a Chinese dragon baggy costume thing. It makes a slightly disturbing noise.

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