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I insisted on seeing this movie when it came out in the 1950's, I was 7 years old. I got to the theatre late and the movie had already started. As I opened the doors to enter the screening room a strange feeling came over me, could it have been that the room was pitch black and 500 people were screaming at the top of their lungs? Somehow I found my way to a seat trying not to look at the screen. In a few minutes the monster comes waltzing out of some industrial size refridgerator carrying some guys head in his hand.....that was all it took....as the blood rushed to my head I did the 50 yard dash to the doors in world record time and never looked back. Decades later (1990's) I had the chance to watch the movie again on cable. This time my girlfriend was with me so I was able to get through it........
One of my favorite 50's monster movies! For some reason this priceless little gem is always overlooked in the lists of B-movie monster faves of the 1950s. You have one of the better amphibious creature costumes designed by Jack Kevan (No zipper!!), a great sea coast location, decapitations and gore, some very decent acting by A-list party girl and pin-up queen Jeanne Carmen, and last but not least, Les Tremayne - He is only in 85% of all classic B-horror/sci-fi films of the 1950s! What's a film without him?! All right guys, I know its formula, but this obscure little tale holds a special place in my heart since I was 9-years old! The film has drama, subtext, coastal atmosphere, sex, and about 5 or 6 headless corpses lying about! John Harmon as Sturges, the crusty lighthouse keeper who feeds the hungry cave-dwelling beast meat scraps from the local deli, does a credible job here as a man who has closed off all emotions to the world, including those of his fetching daughter Lucy (Carmen), in exchange for companionship with the hungry creature. Jeanne Carmen is a natural beauty equal to the Mara Cordays' and Allison Hayes' of her decade. Too bad the studios didn't use her a little more proficiently. Psuedo-teen heartthrob Don Sullivan is thrown in for some romantic interest and all that biology jazz and the musical score (which is never credited) is rich, layered and 'original.' So, sorry guys! The Monster of Piedras Blancas always wins with me!
John Harmon plays a crusty lighthouse keeper who lives with his daughter and secretly feeds a monster of a prehistoric fish-man heritage scraps and fish. One day he misses feeding the creature scraps and all hell breaks loose. The creature walks about unseen and walking in and out of stores neatly severing the heads off folks. This is vintage 50's bad sci-fi. It has all the cliches you would expect, yet it is a whole lot of fun. Obviously made on a shoestring budget, Monster of Piedras Blancas has a charm to it. The story is pretty straightforward with everything from one-dimensional characters to the obligatory romance between the lighthouse keeper's daughter and a serendipitous biochemist versed in prehistoric fish species(played by Do Sullivan who you may...or more likely may not...remember as Chase in The Giant Gila Monster...no singing in this one fortunately!). The monster looks decent. Sure, you know its a rubber suit, but at least its not crying out that it is. This film makes great Saturday or Sunday afternoon fare!
This is one of those films that used to be shown on Creature Features on Saturday mornings. Its a rather dull film about a Black Lagoon-type creature who goes around killing people. Despite its dullness, it has a couple of the scariest scenes of any film made during this era. The first, when the monster comes bursting out of a door is a moment of shock and horror equal to the similar scene in "The Thing". And the second, at the lighthouse at the end of the film, is extremely terrifying and gave me recurrent nightmares as a child. Both scenes are still frightening to me as an adult. One also has to appreciate the amount of thought that went into the plot. The origins of the monster and the reasons he starts to kill are convoluted but, if you follow along carefully, everything is explained in a logical manner and there are no inconsistencies in the plot. In "Keep Watching the Skies", Bill Warren criticized the film as lacking a logical plot and explanation for the monster, but he is wrong! However dull, a lot of thought went into the plotting of this film and, had the script been better, this could have been a scare classic.
Very entertaining movie,gives you a real feel for the time it was made.Was one of Don Sullivan's best and makes you wonder, if Steve McQueen could advance from " Blob " what ever happened to Don Sullivan? My friends and I first saw this movie late on night while camping out in the backyard with an extension cord stretched to an old b/w and the scene where the monster comes out with the head scared us to death!
I had never heard of this movie until I met the object of aforesaid Monster
at a fan convention here in the bay area a few years ago... she told me
about it, perhaps somehow sensing my affinity for rubber-suited monsters. I
told her I hadn't seen it, but I'd sure love to, and she said the guy who
worked on "Creature from the Black Lagoon" had also done the monster suit
for this movie. Now I had to see it, but I didn't really get a chance until
last Thursday at the Parkway in Oakland.
Strangely enough, the producer of the film's daughter had shown up for the showing (I'd give you her name if I remembered it), which also coupled as a birthday celebration for bay area horror host "Dr. Ghoulfinger". Even stranger, she had shown up not to seize the print or anything vulgar of that nature, but rather to lend her support and enjoy the rare public viewing of her father's film. When asked about her father's career after "Monster from Piedras Blancas", she said he moved into other types of film, to which a vocal part of the audience shouted "PORN!!!"
OK, the film itself is a somewhat better than average exploitation horror flick. The monster suit, which allows for a great deal of animation and motion, is a wonder -- it easily blows away everything else in the movie, including the much cheaper gore type effects such as decapitated heads. Of course, depending on your own inclinations, Jeanne Carmen also steals the show with her luscious bod, appearing as a brunette (anyone know what Jeanne Carmen's natural hair color is, anyway?) showing more character than most victims of 50s rubber monsters. Her acting is not great, but adequate for the film's demands.
No one else in the cast really stands out, but the effort in general is solid, not slowing down too much like many of its kind do in the middle. The film's makers seem to have known they must show something worth seeing every reel or risk losing the audience. A lot of the stuff in the movie seems pretty goofy, and I doubt that anyone involved took the film too seriously; it almost comes off as a comedy, kind of like but not as much so as some of Corman's movies from the time (most notably "Not of This Earth").
All in all, a good show
Mediocre acting. Great Man in a monster suit. A scaler version of the
Creature from the Lost Lagoon. And some surprising for '59 gore featuring
some.... yep decapitations with a little blood! In black and
Light house keeper puts out food for legendary monster. Most people thinks he's crazy and of course ignore his warnings. Then some surfers wind up losing their heads.
No real surprises. But if you're in the mood and want to see a pretty good man in a monster suit movie, this will fit the bill.
1959's "Monster of Piedras Blancas" remains one of my favorite horror/sci-fi films from my childhood. I remember watching this film for the first time after school on N.Y's channel 9 during the early 1970's. It had such an impact on me. Loved the creature costume. (very convincing till this day!) I was quite surprised by the level of gore for a film of that period. The setting of a sleepy California coastal town and the impressive score, added to the films appeal. Some of the acting was fairly decent and the plot simple and straight forward. I understand the film is unavailable on DVD at the moment, but hope to find it soon. It is a must for mine as well as anyone else's collection.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Monster Of Piedras Blancas is a low-budget monster movie from the
golden heyday of low-budget monster movies, the 1950s. By this time,
the British had begun introducing an element of gore into their horror
movies with the likes of The Curse Of Frankenstein and Horrors Of The
and here some of that gore makes it into an old-school
American creature feature. While the film isn't especially good in the
normal sense of the word, it does rise to a number of scenes that must
have been very powerful to the unsuspecting audiences of the day, most
notably the scene where the monster suddenly emerges from a freezer at
the back of a store with a severed head in its hand.
In a quiet Californian coastal town, a couple of fishermen turn up dead in a boat, their corpses decapitated with almost surgical precision and barely a drop of blood left in their bodies. Local store-keeper Kochek (Frank Arvidson) warns that the dead are not victims of a tragic accident, hinting that they have been killed by a living creature, perhaps even the Monster of Piedras Blancas which is a well-known but much-ridiculed local legend. Lighthouse keeper Sturgess (John Harmon) seems particularly upset by the killings and makes a point of telling his daughter Lucy (Jeanne Carmen), waitress in a local bar, to make sure she is vigilant on the way home. Meanwhile, the town constable Matson (Forrest Lewis) works tirelessly with the local doctor, Sam Jorgenson (Les Tremayne), to figure out a rational explanation for the recent deaths. Lucy ignores her father's advice and goes for a moonlight swim with her boyfriend Fred (Don Sullivan), but she can't shake the feeling that someone or something is watching them. Later, more decapitated corpses turn up one of them a child and people start placing more credence in the idea that a monster is at large. Finally, the monster shows itself and the townsfolk find themselves up against a seemingly indestructible mutant fish-man with a taste for red meat!
For me, the thing that makes The Monster Of Piedras Blancas more bearable than many films of this type is that it tries to pay attention to logic. Admittedly, much of the logic in the film is flawed. For example, the "indestructible" monster falls from a lighthouse into the sea and everyone celebrates its destruction - erm, hold on folks, the monster's almost impossible to kill and it's back in its natural habitat something tells me this thing ain't dead! However, in others aspects the film does try quite hard to provide feasible explanations for the origins of the monster and the actions of the characters. The monster itself is the best thing about the film a nod towards The Creature From The Black Lagoon, with a more gruesome face and bucketloads of drool. Alas, there's not much else in the film worth mentioning. It's an extremely slow-moving flick for much of the time, and the years have diminished whatever shock value the occasional gore scenes might once have possessed. There's probably some nostalgic charm in revisiting a movie like this indeed, a whole generation have The Monster of Piedras Blancas to thank for the first time they saw a severed head in a film but overall it's not a film that has much else to offer for modern audiences.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** Really fun, enjoyable film about a
legendary monster prowling around a coastal town. John Harmon, usually
a supporting character in B-westerns, is good as the lighthouse keeper
who discovers the creature. Unwittingly it is he who turns it into a
blood thirsty killer by feeding it meat scraps instead of the fish it
is accustomed to eating. Soon it is snacking on fishermen, tearing off
heads and leaving drained corpses around. The monster is scary enough
but it hardly seems to be of aquatic origin. Perhaps this is because
the designers of the monster costume had access to the Universal
Studios prop department and borrowed the feet from the Metaluna Mutant
from THIS ISLAND EARTH and the hands from one of THE MOLE PEOPLE. It's
gills are very small and it seems to have a rudimentary nose
developing; as a result the monster seems ill-equipped to function for
long under the sea. Oh well, it is still not the sort of creature you
want to bump into on a dark street when you are alone. Supporting
performances are good. Frank Arvidsen steals the picture as Kochek, the
store owner who knows all about the legend of the monster and
eventually becomes one of its victims. Forrest Lewis is good as the
sheriff and Les Tremayne (WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) and the future voice
of Papa Smurf) is always a welcome sight. Hero Don Sullivan had already
battled a Giant Gila Monster and would go on to meet some Teenage
Zombies. Jeanne Carmen, a magazine pinup, didn't exactly convince me
that she was a 20 year old ingénue but she was good anyway. Pete Dunn,
who plays Eddie, one of the townspeople also plays the monster. So in a
way he kills "himself" about midway through the picture. You have to
wonder what went through his mind posing for publicity stills holding
up a rubber head painted with his own likeness.
WARNING: I have to bring up the end of the movie so skip the next paragraph if you have not seen it yet.
The climax of the movie is action packed enough but it raises a question or two. An unintentionally laugh comes when Harmon throws an oil lamp from the top of the lighthouse and hits the monster, who is about a quarter mile down the beach, square in the head! And why, WHY is everyone so happy at the end when the monster is knocked off the lighthouse? We see that he plunges into the ocean and since that is where he came from in the first place won't he just be back? I guess not since a sequel was never made.
OKAY: you can rejoin the article now. This movie originally played on a double bill with THE DEVIL'S PARTNER. It was available briefly on Republic Video but, like the monster itself, has vanished once again. Still it is worth seeing and you just might find yourself enjoying it.
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