It seems Charles Band is in no short supply of excuses to bring small animals and monsters on the screen and “Mystery Monsters” is proof of it. At only fifty two minutes in length, Band’s 1997 (I miss the nineties) family film is much too rushed to even be considered worthy entertainment. Worse yet the film revolves around three magical monsters who seemingly do nothing and serve no purpose. We’re told they have to be minions of evil, but they’re moved around so awkwardly and lazily by the puppeteers it’s tough to imagine they can do much of anything worthwhile.
The monsters seem so haphazardly put together that not much attention is paid to what they can do or benefit their owners beyond starring in a bad kids show (that oddly enough only lasts ten minutes long according the movie.) Tommy and Susie just discovered that their co-worker Captain Jack, a prominent kids show host has three monsters he passionately protects on-set and are told that no matter what, do not snoop and go near the monsters. Curiosity takes over our bland cookie cutter heroes as they begin to investigate the bland unimaginative monsters, all of whom are owned by Captain Jack who keeps them as slaves for him and his show.
Our vanilla heroes are now at a quandary and ho hum hero Tommy must free the monsters for reasons… we’re never quite told. What are these monsters? Why are they here? What did they do in their realms? Are they evil? Are they good souls? Why do the villains know English? Don’t they have security in 1997? Nonetheless the film plods on for almost an hour as the three yawn inducing children heroes fight off an evil queen named Mara who wants the monsters back and will do whatever the PG rating allows her to to get them.
Band directs with about as much technical efficiency as humanly possible for an hour long ride in to family territory, and show that he too can be sugary and sickening with the best of them, even injecting that old black magic with the mostly rubber and latex monsters you can sense the puppeteers had a hell of a time operating thanks to their lack of pose-ability. Most people have accused Band of making the miniature and puppet films for merchandising, but I honestly can’t see anyone buying a Madam doll any time soon, if only because they’re such a lame brood of characters. And this is a lame quasi-family film.