Tutor and rocker Neil Stuart (co-writer Matt Farley) has returned to the small New England city of Rivertown that he left in disgrace after growing obsessed by a riverbeast. His fiancee is marrying someone else. His enemy, reporter Sparky Watts, is still hounding him to no end. And maybe his new student, the daughter of a noted pro athlete Frank Stone, has way too many questions. But this time, he just might turn his life around. And you know, prove that the creek-living creature is an actual thing.
I’ve been indulging in director Charles Roxburgh and his writing partner Farley’s movies and realizing that so often, I wish that I could see films that I really love again for the first time. This is that chance for me, as I’m absolutely tuned into everything in this movie, which is at once a 50s drive-in film that has talking moments that usually cover for the lack of action but here, the action is in the long conversations and songs and not in the creature rising from the river. Also: I absolutely am stunned by the William Castle-style opening and strobe warning of when the beast comes out to kill.
This movie hits so many topics like rudeness at wedding receptions, longing for lost love, the miracles of cat litter, local conspiracies driven by a hunch and, yes, cryptozoological menace. It also feels like sitting down and hearing a shaggy dog version of a story by your drunk or high best friend instead of actually getting to see the movie, except you totally get to see the movie.
Don’t Let The Riverbeast Get You! is playing as part of the Burnt Ends part of Fantastic Fest. This is part of Molten Media, which has produced independent feature films since the late 1990s. According to Fantastic Fest, “the idiosyncratic cinema of Charles Roxburgh and Matt Farley pay homage to the regional low budget horror films of the late 1970s and early 1980s as they unravel bizarre tales set in and around lightly-fictionalized small New England towns. Akin to the manner in which John Waters and Kevin Smith cultivated their cult universes out of tight-knit communities of vivid personalities, Charlie and Farley’s films imagine a unique portrait of Americana as they recruit an eccentric ensemble of folksy friends and family to endearingly perform the offbeat vernaculars and campy melodrama of their wittily verbose scripts.”
Fantastic Fest Burnt Ends has awarded the filmmakers with the first annual Golden Spatula in recognition of their creative spirit, and a partial retrospective of their inventive catalog which includes Local Legends, Metal Detector Maniac and the world premiere of a special 2k restoration of their autumnal slasher Freaky Farley as well as more contemporary works which pursue a distinct, but just as wonderfully eclectic and wry comic sensibility.
You can get a virtual badge here.
You can also buy this on blu ray from Gold Ninja Video.