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.