• Film reviews

    #509 – Godmonster of Indian Flats

    Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973)

    Film review #509

    Director: Fredric Hobbs

    SYNOPSIS: Following a big gambling win and passing out in a drunken stupor, rancher Eddie finds a strange, large embryo on his ranch. Professor Clemens takes the embryo to his laboratory for study. meanwhile, a businessman attempts to buy property in the town for mining development, but the mayor and the secret society of the town have other ideas, as they wish to preserve the legacy of their town as an “old west” place for tourism…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Godmonster of Indian Flats is a 1973 western horror film. In the opening, we see rancher Eddie winning big on the slots and getting taken for a ride by some of the townsfolk. He is taken back home and awakens the next morning to find a large embryo. Local anthropologist Professor Clemens and his research assistant Mariposa take the embryo to incubate it, where they believe it to be the monster that has been talked about in local legends. Meanwhile, a wealthy businessman named Barnstable is trying to buy land in town to get the mines operational again, coming up against the mayor who wants to preserve the “old west” feel of the town to keep tourists coming in. These two main threads of the story are the main issue of the film, mainly because they develop almost separately from each other, only really crossing over at the end. If you want to see a “weird west” type of film consisting of a Western combined with other genres, you don’t really get that because the genres stay very separate for the vast majority of the film. It’s really difficult to figure out what is going on in the story or what the motivations for the characters are when there are all these unconnected things going on. The film sets itself out as some kind of western horror (judging by the title), but most of the film sees the monster stuck in a laboratory, and instead focuses on the goings on of this dusty town. There’s definitely a lot of effort put into creating the atmosphere of an old west frontier town in the Southern U.S., and it does set it up fairly well in the beginning, but when it comes to building a set-up and characters around it, there’s very little cohesion and direction to drive the film.

    There’s plenty of characters that are laid out and the setting is constantly built-up through the expansive shots of the landscape, and the dusty, isolated town. There’s definitely a vision in that regard, but there’s so many strange decisions with respect to the story that it becomes a series of bizarre events that are consistently inconsistent. The scene with the funeral of a dog whose death was staged to make Barnstaple look bad is just so absurd I don’t know how you’re supposed to take it seriously. The acting is also pretty dire so as to alienate the viewer from the story even further. The monster itself we see in bits and pieces until the end of the film, where we are treated to the form of a deformed, mutant sheep of some sort. Trying to make a sheep look threatening seems like a fruitless endeavour, but they certainly tried regardless. It always, however, looks like a sheep, and so isn’t that scary or horrifying.

    There’s definitely some arguments for it being a “so bad it’s good” film, with the pure weirdness in the story and it’s random jumps in tone that come out of nowhere. In this way, it is certainly entertaining and not boring, but you will be constantly wondering how all this fits together. I feel like there’s definitely a vision that grounded the production of this film, specifically in brining this old west town and it’s population and culture to life, but anything on top of that, from the story, the characters, and the whole monster thing are so convoluted that it’s difficult to take it seriously. Overall, Godmonster of Indian Flats is just plain weird: it has all of these things it wants to do, but no idea how to bring them together. The parts where the film tries to take itself seriously are offset by the incomprehensible plot, unimaginative characters, and flat acting. Maybe some people would describe it as “so bad it’s good”, and there are certainly some points where that is the case, but on the whole, I think it just falls short of having that entertainment value.