Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Monster That Challenged the World, The (1957)

Directed by:
Arnold Laven

After an earthquake, people (including a diver, a diner owner's hot-blooded teen daughter, her biker boyfriend and others) start disappearing near the waters of a military research lab. Victims are completely drained of all liquids, have leathery skin and ping pong ball eyes and are usually surrounded by a strange white slime that, when analyzed, shows radioactive properties. Commander Tim Holt leads a search-and-destroy mission that utilizes members of the air national guard, navy and local police. The beasts responsible turns out to be "prehistoric sea snails" exposed to atomic waste that have grown to huge proportions (they look like giant caterpillars with shells), have scissor-like teeth and feed on both sea and land. Our heroes must keep them from getting into the All-American Canal, escaping into the ocean and multiplying; each monster having the potential to produce one-thousand offspring per lifetime. And everyone's partially thwarted by a bratty twerp named Sandy, who disobeys mommy's orders, messes around with a thermostat and unleashes even more creatures. After this showing, one hopes little Sandy ended up crossing paths with Rhoda from THE BAD SEED.

Anyway, this is a fun mixed-bag of a creature feature that mixes the monster mayhem with typical 50s melodrama (including a romantic subplot between Holt and widowed single mom and lab secretary Audrey Dalton). Don't listen to the reviews that knock the creature; the special effects are great. One highlight is when someone uses a pole to poke a monster's eyeball out. Hans Conried gives a nicely understated performance as a scientist. Also with Max Showalter (as "Casey Adams"), Jody McCrea and Milton Parsons. The print has a couple or rough spots, but is in pretty good shape.

Score: 6 out of 10

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