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>
In the great scheme of all things cinematic this is certainly not a great movie, but it is in many ways an intriguing one. Made in 1959, it is billed as and pretends to be another example of the '50s creature-features, but it largely eschews the standard formatting of those films for a deeper, character-driven narrative, more in common with subsequent films of the sixties and beyond. In that sense, it is slightly ahead of its time.
In fact, the horror elements take a back seat for much of the film, which plays more as a drama of tensions between a band of criminals and the skiing guide they have hired as part of their cover story. From this point of view, the film's real strengths come to light. The characters are written as though they could be actual people and not just devices to move the plot along, as some earlier films of the genre tended to portray their casts. The photography is very good, and there is a superb performance by Sheila Noonan as a troubled moll, one that virtually carries the movie and makes it much more interesting whenever she is on screen.
While the characterization is good for a B-movie, the writing is somewhat uneven. There are some quite deep philosophical insights offered up by the characters, such as the benefits of city life versus country living. If the writer wanted to take these musings in a more serious direction, perhaps this could have been Beast From Plato's Cave. But we can't read too much into a film where the guide's sister - Kay Jennings in a neat little performance - tries to sweet-talk a handsome stranger with the line "Did I tell you I knitted this sweater?" to which he replies "Is knitting your scene?" Some find the ending quite disturbing and scary for a film of its time. Others may find it somewhat flimsy and rushed. Either way, this film still has enough going for it to rate as a must-see for the serious fans of the genre.
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