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A disparate group are trapped on a remote island by a hurricane. On the island, a doctor works to make humans twice as small as we already are. This, apparently, will help prevent over population. Unfortunately, his experiments have also created some giant shrews. As the shrews run out of smaller animals to eat, they move in on the people in the house. Written by
Dan Whitehead <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As James Best's first mate is chased up a tree by the shrews you can see the reflective mono-filament pulling the branches down as he falls. See more »
You're a strange man, Thorne. I never met anyone like you. You seem so disinterested in everything. Aren't you the least bit curious? Don't you wonder about the unusual things around here? The guns. The fence. The shattered windows. My accent. Anything?
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In this cheesy b-movie horror yarn, sailor Thorne Sherman (James Best) finds himself delivering supplies to a small group of scientists who are conducting experiments into the prevention of overpopulation. After taking something of an interest in the beautiful but apprehensive Ann (Ingrid Goude Miss Universe 1957) he accompanies the group back to their home where he meets the rest of the team and has a pleasant drink. With a hurricane imminent, Thorne wishes to travel back to his boat but it is only when the otherwise timid Ann points a gun at him that he decides to stay, and in turn, learns the shocking truth of what the experiments have unleashed upon the island.
Far from great but still mildly entertaining, The Killer Shrews', was the directorial debut of regular special effects artist Ray Kellogg who created effects (some photographic) for more than eighty movies during the Forties and Fifties. Interestingly, the special effects work in The Killer Shrews' left quite a lot to be desired and one has to question just how much input Ray had on the final results. In something of a stark contrast to the effects present in other Fifties creature features such as Them!' (1954), there is a distinct requirement for a great deal more imagination to see the creatures (mutated shrews) as anything more than what they actually were. One can easily be forgiven for finding amusement in seeing dogs (collies I believe) jumping up walls while wearing somewhat silly rubber masks and what appear to be mop-heads. Close up shots of the mutated shrews show the viewer a remarkably cheap looking puppet. However, the movie relies more on the implication that the shrews may be near or inside the building rather than overexposing the viewer to imagery of the shrews. In that respect, the movie works.
Removing the poor effects from consideration for a while, the movie itself plays out nicely. Although the first fifteen minutes of this relatively short film move slowly it is not long before a fairly interesting, multi-narrative film. While the shrews take precedence in the film there is an interesting and on-going clash between Thorne and Jerry (Ken Curtis). In fact, in some ways one could argue that The Killer Shrews' plays out as an early draft of George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead' (1968). The rather wonderful, ominous musical scoring help to create something of a foreboding atmosphere which, unfortunately, Ray Kellogg's direction fails to capitalise on. Without condemning the direction as bad, there were moments when a stronger director would have been able to turn a potentially unnerving scene into an exhilarating thrill-ride. Sadly, Kellogg's direction was awfully basic and while the potential was there throughout the movie, Kellogg failed to capitalise and regrettably kept The Killer Shrews' in something of a stalemate. Unfortunately, the often wonderful musical score occasionally added to the continual moments of absurdity that were present throughout the movie and generated laughs rather than fear.
Jay Simms, who wrote a number of similar films, was responsible for the somewhat impressive screenplay which, despite featuring sporadic moments of incoherence, was the foremost reason that The Killer Shrews' worked in any way. One would suggest that a more experienced director may have been able to make something more of The Killer Shrews' but as it stands; the movie is still enjoyable for one watch. The Killer Shrews' features generally credible and effective acting performances and a fairly interesting and entertaining story. It sadly lacks in the effects and direction departments. Fifties monster-movie fans should probably check it out although the movie does border on ludicrous. This one is apparently quite popular amongst fans of `bad' films. My rating for The Killer Shrews' 6/10.
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