ATTACK OF THE ADULT BABIES: Disgustingly Good Fun
Dominic Brunt's horror comedy Attack of the Adult Babies is equally versed in British toilet humour and the classics of the horror genre.
I wonder if it’s possible to pinpoint the exact moment when British popular culture lost its edge. Was it when Ed Sheeran became our most successful pop star? When Mrs Brown’s Boys topped a poll to find the UK’s greatest-ever sitcom? When our movie industry started churning out Downton Abbey-inspired period dramas to the detriment of pretty much everything else?
Dear lord, how we need a dose of anarchy and bad behaviour right now to put the cat among the pigeons again. A Derek Jarman, a Viz comic, an Irvine Welsh, a Sex Pistols, a Dennis Potter. Something or someone to upset the apple cart, to get people riled up and pissed off. When a 69-year-old democratic socialist with a penchant for making jam is considered the most dangerous person in Britain you know something somewhere has gone very wrong.
I’m not going to make any great claims for Attack of the Adult Babies to be that agent of change – the thing that shifts the paradigm – but its bonkers blend of slapstick violence, deranged sci-fi and gross-out toilet humour just feels very fresh right now. It’s as British as a Royal Wedding taking place on the Centre Court at Wimbledon, wears its influences on its sleeve at times, and in many ways is quite old fashioned. And yet the film’s gonzo excess and lurid imagination contains more genuine punk-rock attitude than any UK movie I’ve seen in ages. It isn’t some sort of reactionary revolt against “PC culture” either – in fact, beneath the film’s knockabout veneer of smut and scatology, it’s decidedly right on.
Thing In The Basement
Attack of the Adult Babies starts with a home invasion as two gunmen (presumably Russians) burst in on a seemingly typical family – dad George (Andrew Dunn), his wife Sandra (Kate Coogan), plus teenagers Tim (Kurtis Lowe) and Kim (Mica Proctor) – as they play a board game together. The armed interlopers force everyone, apart from George, to travel to a vast mansion in the English countryside to retrieve a mysterious box for them.
Once there, however, the three bemused family members stumble upon a disturbing scene – a group of rich, powerful, pallid and rather well-upholstered old men behaving like babies. They are being fed, burped and – dear god, my eyes – even having their dirty nappies (diapers) changed by a cadre of voluptuous young nurses.
But something even stranger is happening, as the men’s noses start to deform into pig-like snouts, while a mysterious éminence grise (playwright Simon Corble under a ton of make-up) lurks in the shadows directing operations and making occasional reference to a “thing in the basement”, known as “Sterculius”. If you think all that sounds weird, trust me when I say it quickly gets a whole lot more outlandish and disturbing…
Attack of the Adult Babies is directed by Dominic Brunt, who can more usually be found in long-running Brit soap Emmerdale, where he has played amiable village vet Paddy Kirk for the last 20 years. This is his third feature after zombie flick Before Dawn (2013) and revenge thriller Bait (2014). The story was concocted by Joanne Mitchell – Brunt’s wife and co-owner of production company Mitchell-Brunt Films – who also plays the movie’s maniacal Nurse Clinton.
Their unholy union has produced something with an atmosphere all its own – queasy, off-kilter and helped enormously by Thomas Ragsdale’s pulsing electronic score. Although the tone is anarchic, Brunt – plus editor David Mercer – bring discipline and structure to proceedings, particularly in the film’s first act as we cut back and forth from the mansion to George and his family, and you wonder how the two storylines are going to collide, the director getting all his ducks in a row before delivering a nicely worked early twist.
Be A Dear and Fetch My Chainsaw
Early on – just as the sinister Nurse Margaret (Sally Dexter) says: “They’re coming to get you, Barbara”, the most famous line from George A Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead – I wondered if we were going to get one of those reference-heavy horrors that often seem more obsessed with scoring cool points than telling a decent story. Luckily, Brunt – nor screenwriter Paul Shrimpton – is interested in going down that blind alley, although it isn’t difficult to pick up on the kind of stuff that has influenced their movie.
Fans of Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste and Brian Yuzna’s Society will recognise certain elements of plot and tone here, as well as chunks of Hammer Horror, British TV comedy including Benny Hill and The League Of Gentlemen, perhaps even ’70s-era Doctor Who (although Tom Baker never encountered quite so much explosive diarrhea in his dealings with the Daleks). A cameo from Laurence R Harvey – from The Human Centipede sequels – is very fitting too.
The cast is mostly culled from British TV drama and soaps. Dunn is a veteran of The Bill and Coronation Street, while the Emmerdale contingent is strong, including Dexter, who provides the star turn. Part Nurse Ratched, part Ursula the Sea Witch, she gets the best lines too – including “Clinton, be a dear, and fetch my chainsaw” – all delivered in a style best described as matter-of-factly evil.
Corruption, Perversity and Greed
This isn’t an angry film but, from that provocative title onwards, delights in sticking the boot into the behaviour of Britain’s ruling elite. We’re told the adult babies – which, bizarrely, include cult comedian Charlie Chuck – are made up of “the most powerful men on the planet” and we’re left in no doubt of their appetite for corruption, perversity and greed. Their co-dependent relationship with Sterculius is gratifyingly grotesque too.
If you’re looking for a sub-text, it’s certainly there – the depraved activities men with too much money and power get up to when they think no one’s looking. Their eventual rampage throws up some good lines; “I’m going to break you like an inner-city social worker” being my favourite.
And just when you think proceedings can’t get any more unhinged, Brunt gives us a final 20 minutes in which we encounter the aforementioned Sterculius himself and the craziness dial is turned right up to 11. (I’m not going to spoil what the creature actually is but, suffice to say, his scabrous origin story is of a piece with the rest of Attack of the Adult Babies’ inspired madness). The finale gives us trippy special effects, Claymation and a giant CG pig monster. It’s a fitting climax to a film that is riotously entertaining and utterly preposterous in the best way possible.
Attack of the Adult Babies: Final Thoughts
Firmly in the great British tradition of toilet humour, I’d like to think Attack of the Adult Babies has a future as a cult classic with fans dressing up in nappies, with stick-on pig noses, to catch midnight screenings at London’s famous Prince Charles Cinema. Better still, maybe Brunt and Mitchell should consider turning it into a stage musical. A cover of The Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’ would surely go down a storm…
What is your favourite gross-out horror movie? Let us know in the comments below…
Attack of the Adult Babies is released in the UK on July 9 on limited edition Blu-ray and digital, followed by a DVD release on July 23rd. Future release information will appear here
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