Uktena: The Horned Monstrosity (2021) Review
Uktena: The Horned Monstrosity is a homemade kaiju film that puts a Native American twist on the traditional giant monster film. And when I say homemade I mean just that, the film was totally self-produced and funded by the father and son team of Dan and David Treanor who shot it in Colorado over a two-year period.
And being homemade, you need to temper your expectations going in because Uktena: The Horned Monstrosity is not Godzilla King of the Monsters, it’s not even Godzilla versus The Smog Monster. The effects are somewhere between Monster Seafood Wars, Raiga: God of the Monsters and Konga TNT. If you need state-of-the-art destruction, this isn’t the film for you. But if you sit through the likes of Monster from a Prehistoric Planet and The Amazing Colossal Man, you’ll be fine.
The film opens with a bit of backstory on the Cherokee folklore about Uktena and how it was imprisoned in a cave by a powerful shaman. And then adds a bridging story about how it’s been set free by nuclear testing.
Doc Collins (Kyle Borthick) is disturbed by some seismic readings at the nuclear test site and sends a couple of his men to take a look. They find out what is causing the readings, but don’t live to tell the tale. Neither does a pair of hillbillies out hunting who run into Uktena and try to take it down with their muskets. When his men don’t come back, Doc calls the county sheriff Poncho Bravo (Marc Bilker, Hot Lead Hard Fury, Realm of Shadows) who goes up to take a look for himself and finds a giant footprint
The two of them consult Dr. Geco (Kayla Rose) who tells them it looks like the print was made by a giant horny toad. This also describes Poncho’s reaction, complete with BOINGGGG sound effects, when he sees the doctor. They decide the next step is to talk to Jerome Greywolf (Jerry Roys) about it. But before they can do that, Uktena comes to them and attacks Rocky Flats.
None of this, in case you hadn’t guessed, is meant to be taken the least bit seriously. Which is a good thing because there is no way you could take the dialogue or performances in Uktena: The Horned Monstrosity seriously. Apart from Marc Bilker, most of the cast aren’t actors, several are local blues musicians, and it shows.
The creature’s rampage is a mix of low-tech effects including some very obvious cardboard miniatures, the creature green-screened into scenes with a real city and lots of stock footage of disaster scenes, military convoys, etc. One scene of the Army getting ready for battle is obviously shot with a collection of World War II equipment. It’s all quite unconvincing but matches the tone of the rest of the film.
Uktena: The Horned Monstrosity itself is a nicely designed suit that looks different from the typical T Rex-influenced kaiju. It’s still a lizard and looks reptilian, but with its squat appearance and beaded skin, it’s not just another Godzilla lookalike.
Made with obvious affection for the genre, Uktena: The Horned Monstrosity is meant for kaiju fans who can laugh at the genre. It will probably be a bit too low-tech and silly for quite a few viewers, but I got a chuckle out of it. Especially the final showdown between the creature and the military, led by Col. Tuttle (Norman Hughes) and the film’s ultimate, Mothra-inspired, resolution.
Uktena: The Horned Monstrosity will be available as a limited edition Blu-ray from SRS Cinema in January 2022. A mass-market release is planned for later in the year. You can check their website or Facebook page for updates. There doesn’t seem to be a trailer, so I’ve included a behind-the-scenes featurette.