Movies Till Dawn: The Saturday Morning Strange – “Godmonster of Indian Flats” (1973)

The irresistible force paradox – which asks us to consider what happens if an unstoppable object collides with an irresistible force – is put to the test in this bizarre hybrid of science fiction, experimental film and underground comedy. Virginia City, Nevada is the proving ground, and the forces in question are the town’s despotic mayor (exploitation veteran Stuart Lancaster), who fends off an Eastern investor by framing his representative for murder (of the sheriff’s dog), and a mutated sheep embryo, which grows, thanks to a local scientist (E. Kerrigan Prescott) and his dizzy assistant (Karen Ingenthron), into a colossal, awkward-looking and occasionally flatulent barnyard monstrosity. These elements eventually come together after much discussion about the town’s history, mystic seers, and endless scientific babble, with the expected explosive results, though that is probably the only thing about “Godmonster of Indian Flats” that viewers will see coming.

Despite the title, the Godmonster of Indian Flats gets a lot less screen time than the plotline involving the mayor, which unspools in reams of marble-mouthed dialogue and one eyebrow-raising scene in which the investor’s rep – a black man – is threatened with lynching. One would assume then, that the intent of the movie is satire, which is supported by comic moments both deliberate (like the dog’s funeral, where the sheriff soothes mourners by telling them that his pet is actually with relatives in Albuquerque) and otherwise (the monster’s slow attack on a group of picnicking kids, who seems less afraid of than bewildered by it). Or it’s possible that the mix of social commentary, proto-New Age talk and the monster’s ecology-gone-amuck origins are an attempt by the film’s writer-director, the late Fredric Hobbs – who also oversaw the equally baffling “Alabama’s Ghost” – to explore some of the themes and elements that fueled his first career as a artist (primarily in the Bay Area), including environmental and spiritual issues depicted through confrontational, often crudely nightmarish images (many of which resemble the Godmonster itself).

And I hear what you’re saying: is this an attempt to call “Godmonster of Indian Flats” an art film? Well, maybe not – all of this might be just the work of an over-enthusiastic filmmaker with too many cards to play in a single picture. It might just be accidental surrealism, the kind found in films by Tommy Wiseau or Larry Buchanan. But  if you consider “Multiple Maniacs” or George and Mike Kuchar’s prolific bodies of work as arthouse fare, you might consider pinning that label on “Godmonster,” too. Up to you.

The American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) and Something Weird present “Godmonster” on Blu-ray in a 4K restoration (taken from the only surviving 35mm print) and pairs it with “The Legend of Bigfoot” (1976), a documentary that hinges on some particularly specious Sasquatch footage, as well as a battery of monster/disaster-related supplements from Something Weird’s vast library. These include trailers for ’70s creature features like “Grizzly” and “The Mysterious Monsters,” a clip featuring evangelist/UFO advocate Dr. Frank E. Stranges, a 10-minute digest presentation of 1945’s “White Gorilla” featuring Ray “Crash” Corrigan in the title role, and an alarming 1978 educational film that depicts school buses as rolling deathtraps.

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About Paul Gaita

Paul Gaita lives in Sherman Oaks, California with his lovely wife and daughter. He has written for The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Variety and The Fix, among many other publications, and was a home video reviewer for Amazon.com from 1998 to 2014. He has interviewed countless entertainment figures from both the A and Z lists, but his favorites remain Elmore Leonard, Ray Bradbury and George Newall, who created both Schoolhouse Rock and the Hai Karate aftershave commercials. He once shared a Thanksgiving dinner with celebrity astrologer Joyce Jillson, and regrettably, still owes the late character actor Charles Napier a dollar.
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