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William Cameron Menzies
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Gangster Alexander Ward, his girl friend, Gypsy Boulet, and two henchmen come to Deadwood, South Dakota with the idea of stealing a few gold bars. They enlist the aid of a local ski instructor, Gil Jackson, and plan to use him as a guide out of the territory after the robbery. However, a blizzard forces them to take refuge in Jackson's cabin, where Gypsy lowers the inside temperature by giving the cold shoulder to Ward, her former sweetie until she saw Jackson. Ward don't care, as he plans to kill Jackson after they have no further use of him. But they had used an explosion in a cave to serve as a distraction during the heist, and this explosion had irritated the big spider that lived there and, sure enough, all hands have to seek refuge in the cave from the fury of the storm. All but two of them would have been better off facing the South Dakota elements. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the rarest experiences for a B-movie fanatic is to find a film you haven't seen in 30-plus years is much better than your childhood memory of it. While "Beast From Haunted Cave" was obviously made on a shoestring -- it's a Gene "Brother Of Roger" Corman production, so what do you expect? -- first-time director Monte Hellman (The Shooting, Two Lane Blacktop) had a better-than-average script and capable actors, not to mention a director of photography who made effective use of the stark winter landscape near Deadwood, South Dakota.
The film starts out slow as a gang plans and executes a robbery, but then it veers off into darker territory as they and their guide are trailed to the hideout by a surprisingly well-realized and startlingly nasty monster.
This is by no means a perfect film: There are occasional stumbles in motivation, dialogue and the timing of events, yet for me these inconsistencies actually contributed to an atmosphere of dreamlike disorientation as the story plays out against the bleached-bone white of the snow and the soot-black shadows of winter pines. The plight of the Beast's victims -- cocooned alive, and fully aware as it feeds on them -- yields a heaping helping of shudders.
The DVD transfer (I'm talking about the most recent release, not the one paired with "The Brain That Wouldn't Die") was made from an excellent print; the soundtrack is quite clear. You may recognize the score as the same used for "Attack Of The Giant Leeches" and -- I think -- "Night Of The Blood Beast": These guys knew how to recycle!
Even with its defects, this is a distinctly weird and surprisingly gruesome chiller, a fine example of how much can be accomplished even with limited resources.
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