Munchie Strikes Back is the story of an ugly space alien trying to redeem past misdeeds by stealing video games and money for a lonely boy and his widowed mother. Uh huh. It's a bad movie, but it's got a lot of history. An indirectly direct sequel to Munchies (a 1987 Gremlins spoof), the film has zero ties to the original, instead following the also out-of-nowhere second film in the series, Munchie. I know, I know -- it's pretty hard to follow. I'll try it again. First came Munchies, then came Munchie, a story about one nice monster instead of the dozens of small mean ones seen in the first film. Nearly everyone who rented Munchie did so out of loyalty to the semi-popular original, but the two sequels had positively nothing in common with their parent film.
Convoluted as Hell, but the series saw its last hurrah in the movie we're reviewing today, 1992's Munchie Strikes Back. Assuming that at least some of you have seen Munchies, throw away everything you think you know about the lore. The last two films were entirely different and strictly for kids. It's for this reason that I'm having trouble calling this pile of shit a pile of shit -- putting myself in the mindset of a seven-year-old, it's not too terrible. Can't really recommend it as fodder for your bad movie nights (stick with the original for those), but if you've ever wanted 80 minutes worth of Howard Heeseman voicing the poor man's ALF, Munchie Strikes Back caters to your unique and pitiful whim.
Obviously, the film never made it to theaters. I doubt it was ever intended to. It's direct-to-video all the way, with a few vacations to Cinemax's special movie lineup for the hours where they were absolutely certain that no more than three people were watching the channel. Here's the review -- see if you can make sense of any of this...
Things kick off with Munchie leading all of some unnamed school's students in a late night celebration that culminates with Munchie blowing everything up. This might be a flashback to the end of the last film, but who cares? The goal was to establish Munchie as an antiauthority party animal, and a really creepy little monster who all the kids love. Do not be afraid, children. Munchie is friend, not foe.
In the previous film, Munchie was voiced by Dom DeLuise. From the clips I've seen, I much prefer Howard Heeseman's work in this film. Come on, Heeseman is obviously a better choice if you're determining who sounds more like a three-foot alien comedian. Whenever Munchie's onscreen, Munchie's telling jokes. The amount of punchlines that poured forth from his puppet lips would make Howie Mandel seethe with inferiority. It gets to the point where Munchie doesn't even break between jokes, instead telling three or seventy-nine at a time in the same breath. Giving the devil his due, I gotta admit...some of the things he said were pretty clever. Still, for every funny joke, Munchie's got ten thousand more that'll make you map out plans for a subterranean society where jokes don't exist.
After Munchie blows up the school, he's summoned by mysterious lightning up in the dark skies. Seems like someone's not too pleased with the critter's penchant for mass murder and arson. Incredibly enough, that someone is Kronos, God of Time and Space! Bet you didn't see that one coming.
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Morphing into a ball of light, Munchie flies to Heaven. Yes. Kronos is in charge, flanked by really bad interpretations of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. I just caught one of our cats pissing in the shower, and it looked ten times more like Marilyn than what's shown in the movie. As an added bonus, Elvis is now of Asian descent. Other dead luminaries include Abe Lincoln and the Colonel...and yes, I mean that as in Kentucky Fried Chicken. Munchie Strikes Back sucks, but it's the only movie featuring Colonel Sanders and a Chinese Elvis Presley chilling out in the afterlife. With Abe Lincoln. God.
Kronos tells Munchie that he's been way too naughty to stay on Earth. Elvis and Marilyn come to his defense, begging Kronos to give the little shit one more chance. I'm not making this up, here's a pic to prove it. This scene may explain why it took me fourteen tries to actually make it through the film. Munchie Strikes Back has been in my VCR fourteen times? Jeez, that's another bone in my closet.
In the end, Kronos agrees to give Munchie one last shot at heroic freedom. He has a special assignment for the disgusting creature, and so long as he completes the mission without wreaking mass havoc or killing anyone, he'll be allowed to go where he pleases without probation. All he has to do is bring joy back to the life of one little boy who lost his daddy...
The guy on the left is Munchie Strikes Back's main villain, Shelby Carlyle. He's played by Andrew Stevens, who also starred as the main villain in Munchie, though in a different role. What one would never guess from watching these films is just how successful Srevens has been -- not for acting, mind you, but as an executive producer. Cool that he found his niche, but when it comes to physical comedy roles like this? Andrew Stevens, go burn in Hell. His character this time around is that of an egomaniacal corporate mastermind who throws his weight around and tries to bully his busty female employees into hot sex. After trying that on foxy lady Linda McClelland, Shelby's brutally rebuffed and making all sorts of steaming mad noises. Linda, of course, is the mother of the our real star, Chris.
Now this Chris...he's a sad case. His dad's dead, his mother just lost his job, and he's the subject of much ridicule from his baseball team because he's too damn short to do anything right. I'll begrudgingly admit that Trenton Knight wasn't too bad in the role, at least when compared to other kids cast in nobody-will-ever-see-it-so-who-gives-a-shit creature flicks. Chris and Linda ponder their unknown future, deciding that a simple hug is a better solution to their problems that dragging a spellbook down to the cemetery in an attempt to raise Daddy from the dead. Had they gone with Option 2, my score for Munchie Strikes Back would've been a full letter grade higher. Now that the primary characters have been introduced, it's time for Munchie to show up and not shut up for the next hundred minutes.
After a series of mishaps woefully paint Chris as an all-around loser in need of a magical space alien to salvage the wreckage that is his life, Munchie arrives, and heeee's got jokes to tell! The bothersome lump confirms the film's timeless plot: Munchie will serve as fairy godmother for the little boy with nadafinga. Chris sees through the smoke and realizes what he's really got -- an ugly, alien-shaped genie lamp. After a series of wishes and demands, Chris' bedroom swells with toys, video games, electronics and pizza. Just a personal observation here, but Chris' wildest dreams weren't really all that wild. In a panning shot which exposes the innermost desires of one Chris McLelland, I swear to God, there was a row of like fifteen basketballs. Why would he want fifteen?
Finally, Munchie gets bored with basketballs (pretty textbook case of the ol' BWB, come to think of it) and pushes the envelope a bit with the super duper mega wish come true: a giant television with giant speakers and a giant chair that plays giant games of "Death Race 2000." Chris sits down for a round, quickly remarking about how "lifelike" the game felt. Munchie always loved a good challenge, vowing to make the game even more lifelike. All of this transpired within about 1/16th of the words used here to describe it. I just felt like stretching things.
The real life version of "Death Race 2000" proved too much for Chris to handle, evidenced by his pleas for a safe return home and by the way he pissed all over the car. I'm only including this because...frig, can't think of an excuse. Guess it's just the Munchie riding shotgun in a race car thing. Can't review Munchie Strikes Back without mentioning the Munchie riding shotgun in a race car thing. I think I'm hitting a Munchie wall, here.
The rest of Chris' wishes are a little more typical -- nothing that requires entirely different sets or crash helmets. In these continued wishes, the audience is provided its mandatory Munchie moral lesson: be careful of what you wish for. And don't go thinking that sounded ominous -- at worst, Chris will wish for a pet frog and Munchie'll throw water at him. "Pet frog? I thought you said wet sog! Azuhuhuhuhuh!"
Despite finding of said wish-granting space alien, it's life as usual at the McLelland household. Chris does his chores (Munchie makes a lawnmower handle the grass by itself, ultimately leading to a grumpy neighbor's poodle being shaved. Script value 40 triplezadillion dollars.) and prepares for his seemingly daily Little League game. Problem is, Chris sucks at baseball. Hmmm, I do so wonder how he'll solve this problem. Say, will any certain...wish-granting space aliens play a part? Could this be one of the "twists" or "turns" promised on the cassette box? How many questions can a paragraph contain before it becomes a swollen mass of skippability to all those except the few who really, really don't want to do their, I dunno, social studies homework? ???? ??
Time to meet some of the other characters. Chris is sort of in love with Jennifer, his baseball teammate and neighbor. Renowned actress Natanya Ross looks positively horrified to be on camera, so Jennifer seems to have epileptic fits throughout the movie. Somehow, it works. Brett is Chris' nemesis -- a bullying braggart who knows he's the best player on the team. Jennifer's affections appear equally split between Chris and Brett. I was really hoping they'd swerve us and shack Jennifer up with Munchie in the end, but alas, they never meet. Wait, actually, they did meet once, but Munchie had disguised himself as a very human limo driver to serve as chauffeur during her date with Chris. This is where I ejected the tape, held it down towards Hell and asked the Devil if that was the best he could do. After all, I own House IV.
Evil Shelby, of course, is the manager of the opposing team. After a series of "win at all costs" speeches to the boys, complete with fist-pounding and foot-stomping, Shelby instructs his son to peg Brett in the chest with the ball. I think they threw that in there to keep the babysitters happy. After sending Brett to the emergency room, Shelby's team seems poised for victory. Chris and Jennifer don't know what to do. The team coach doesn't know what to do. Chris' mom wouldn't have known either, but the dumb bitch doesn't attend her own son's Little League games. "Daddy's there, Chris! In ghost form!" She uses that for everything.
Munchie pops up, and look, he's wearing a baseball uniform! Munchie vows to make Chris a sports hero, first by magically letting him hit a homer, then by giving him the pitches that get all the bitches. Chris wins the game for his team, leading to a celebration on par with that of any World Series victory. I don't think they mentioned any particular significance for this one game, but with the way they're celebrating, their souls had to be on the line.
A demon lurks in the shadows, however. While Chris chatted with Munchie, Shelby looked on from a distance. He knows! He knows! Shelby makes it his personal mission to kidnap Munchie, because if you saw a foreign creature possibly able to kill a person in no time, that's the first thing you would do, too.
With Brett out of commission from the baseball injury, Jennifer seeks Chris out as a patented Replacement Date. It's here that we learn the awful truth of why Chris and Jennifer will never find happiness: she's at least sixty feet taller than him. Still feeling his oats from winning the game, Chris recites his magical baseball story to every student at the dance. Jen's pretty tired of hearing it, and Chris is progressively becoming more and more conceited and dicky.
Because he doesn't understand why Jennifer walked off without saying goodbye, Munchie grants Chris the power of being able to read minds. A logical solution. Despite the fact that everyone at the dance is sucking up and being nice to him, Chris reads their minds and realizes that everyone thinks he's a self-concerned asshole. Our hero learns an important lesson about being gracious, and turns in his mind-reading powers for a pair of regular ears. Chris would later apologize and reconcile with Jennifer, but from what I saw, the spark was already gone. Young love is fickle.
Shelby, meanwhile, visits an old spookhouse and pays money for Munchie information. Apparently, the alien's been the brains behind every powerful man in history. Shelby realizes that Munchie's his ticket to stardom, mapping out his kidnapping plot and cackling a lot. I was hoping the old spookhouse guy would be played by ol' Michael "Cold Vichyssoise" Gough, but no such luck. If I had a Munchie, I'd make him change that.
Finally, Linda tells Chris the bad news. She lost her job, and unless they come up with 20,000 dollars, they're going to lose the house. Pretty shitty thing to throw at a kid the night before a big math test. Chris reiterates his mother's concerns to Munchie, who promises to take care of business like only he can. While making this promise, Munchie was wearing pajamas and a pointy night cap. Adorable!!
Making a long and involved story short, Munchie causes 20,000 dollars to land over the McLelland household. Linda suspects no tomfoolery and happily hugs the cash, smothering it into her bosom in ways that aren't too personified with a G-rated movie. Especially after she began shoving it up her crotch and shouting "I'm a bank, I'm a bank!"
Twenty grand could solve all of their problems. They'd be able to keep the house. They'd have a great story to tell the relatives come next Thanksgiving. They'd have it all.
Unfortunately, a government agent seizes the money. It's counterfeit dough dropped on the McLellands' home after an evil terrorist plane freaked out and jettisoned it. If this was Munchie's idea, Chris oughta slug him. Linda and the agent develop a crush on each other from the first instant, but this doesn't stop him from throwing the cash in an armored truck and searching Linda's pockets for any residuals.
Linda and Chris take a ride with Agent Man to the station, ostensibly to answer questions but really because Agent Man wants the digits, man. Shelby seizes the opportunity to raid the house for Munchie, leading to the film's longest gag scene...
You wouldn't believe the things Munchie did to Shelby in that house. Actually, yes you would. You've seen Home Alone. It's the exact same scene, only with Shelby as the crooks and Munchie as the Good Son. Shelby suffers every imaginable manner of torment, from electrocution to pie-facing, marble slipping and bowling ball heading, so on and so on. With food debris replacing guts, it was like something out of Hellraiser. Eventually, Shelby knocks Munchie out with a sack of potatoes, bags him up and drives off. Has evil triumphed?
No, of course not. Munchie telepathically controls Shelby's car, ultimately crashing it and getting Shelby arrested. Agent Man sees a chance to make this the ultimate happy ending, offering Linda a job at the station that'd enable her to hold on to the house. Chris doesn't get a job or a new boyfriend, but when he gets to school tomorrow, he can tell all the kids about the cool car chase he saw. And Munchie? He gets to sit on a chaise lounge with a glass of lemonade and casually remark about how it was all his doing. Everybody wins. Except for Brett, as baseball injuries in Munchie Strikes Back are just cause for two-week hospital stays. Poor Brett. He didn't even get a screencap.
Munchie bids farewell to Chris, claiming to have done all he was willing to do for such an undeserving little snotrag. Chris is sad to lose his new friend, but Munchie reminds him that his house is safe and he may even end up with a new stepdad. Geez, Munchie's taking credit for the undetermined stepdad? That's a stretch. Chris isn't about to sink to the levels of begging Munchie to stay, so the alien zips off into space, leaving a trail of fairy dust and hopes and dreams.
Back in Heaven, Kronus gleefully removes Munchie's past probation sentence. We finally learn who nominated Munchie for this special McLelland mission -- it's Chris' dead daddy! You had to have superhuman eyes or a peculiar love for pause buttons to recognize him from the split second shot of an old family portrait shown 45 minutes prior, but it's really him!
Our story ends here, thank God. I don't think many of you would make it through Munchie Strikes Back, but even with that I wouldn't call it one of the worst I've seen. Even by today's standards, I could conceivably and dishearteningly see some children enjoying it. 6 out of 10, and yes, I'm aware that I give almost everything a 6 out of 10. It's just such a vague ranking. Who could take issue?
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