The Henderson Monster (1980)

Article 5124 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-4-2016
Directed by Waris Hussein
Featuring Christine Lahti, Jason Miller, Stephen Collins
Country: USA
What it is: TV-Movie drama

An ambitious Nobel-prize winning scientist’s experiments with recombinant DNA at a local college raise issues about the safety of the experiments, and the mayor decides to hold a hearing on the matter.

Some movies need a warning attached to them. This is not because they are necessarily bad; it’s because for one reason or another they get advertised as something they are assuredly not. Take this one, for example; it has the word “monster” in the title, and IMDB classifies it as both horror and science fiction. Yet I suspect anyone going into this one with their hearts set on the movie delivering on the type of actions these promise will emerge from it profoundly disappointed. In short, the monster is nothing but a theoretical possibility, it only marginally edges up against science fiction, and it is definitely not a horror movie. it is, in fact, a drama about scientific development and the attendant fears if what experimentation may unleash. It is, in fact, a social issue drama.

This is not to say that the movie doesn’t have its worth. It actually manages to take a complex view of the subject, peoples its story with characters who have complex motivations and flaws, gives us varying points of view, and comes to no simple conclusions. The script is also extremely literate, though this isn’t always a positive thing; there are moments where the dialogue feels artificial and forced, especially when the characters become a little too enamored with analyzing their personal motivations for their actions. By the end of the movie, it could be argued that very little has actually happened, but it does provide some food for thought, and this could prove a valuable movie for the right person. However, if you’re searching for a horror/science fiction thriller, this is not the place to go.

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