The Milpitas Monster (1976)

Milpitas, California, has a terrible relationship with its trash. They dump it all into a big nasty landfill, which has polluted and poisoned their waterways and left a nasty smell about the place. Now their trash is striking back in the form of a 50-foot-tall mothman monster that steals garbage cans and leaves huge footprints everywhere. It’s up to a special committee put together by the mayor, a bunch of teenage hoodlums, and the town drunk to stop it…or at least it would be if the filmmakers were halfway competent. Sadly no, they really aren’t, so even though the town drunk saves everyone in the end, they can’t save me from hating this film.

Well, ok, hate is much too strong a word. I dislike this movie, but I respect that it was made and how it was made. The entire project started as a student film by a few high school kids in Milpitas and apparently managed to capture the attention of the general populace, eventually leading to the whole town chipping in. It’s Z-grade material, sure, but it’s Z-grade with love from a bunch of people who had never worked in films but suddenly felt the need to join in together to make one. Yeah, the acting is terrible, and the best work is done through horribly dubbed in voice over. Character personalities often appear to be in-jokes for the local community, and at times the film moves into completely outlandish and bizarre territory when scientific minds get involved. Scientific minds which just so happen to be represented by one Bob Wilkins, host of the show Creature Features.

This guy:

So yeah, it’s not a competent production. It pretty much couldn’t be. The locals play themselves, and they have no training in any of this. But it was made with a lot of love, and that I do respect. I also respect the attempt at building a formidable creature, one which is effectively a giant humanoid moth made of garbage. Through the use of a few miniatures, a giant claw hand, a big suit, and the occasional bit of stop animation, the townsfolk of Milpitas actually managed to come up with something not quite Godzilla-worthy, but still way better than crap like A*P*E.

Nice. It’s like if small town America made a knock-off of Godzilla vs. Hedorah, which yes, also includes an eco-friendly message and a giant trash monster. Only now it’s far more personal and doesn’t include any of the weird Japanese 1970s nightclub scenes.

Do I recommend watching The Milpitas Monster? No, I really don’t. But I’m still impressed by it as a curiosity piece.

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