Beginning of the End (1957) Poster

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3/10
Yet another schlocky 1950s giant creature film.
MartinHafer21 February 2017
During the 1950s, there were huge numbers of giant creatures gone wild films. There were giant Gila Monsters, ants, bees, wasps, shrews...you name it. What most of these movies also have in common is that they were terrible--with lousy special effects and silly stories. One of the few exceptions was "Them!". While not high art, at least they created some cool giant fake ants for this one. Most of the rest of the films really dropped the ball and the scary creatures looked utterly ridiculous...and this is definitely the case with "The Beginning of the End".

"The Beginning of the End" is a film that finds enormous grasshoppers that cannot be easily stopped thanks to the miracle of radiation! Entymologist, Dr. Wainwright (Peter Graves), and newspaper reporter, Audrey Aimes (Peggie Castle), try to warn folks...but naturally no one will listen until it's almost too late.

The biggest problem with this film is the utter cheapness of the production. Many of the scenes where the military attacks the creatures are laughable--sloppy in every possible way. It's very obvious that many of the clips are just stock military footage with grasshoppers sloppily placed on top of the footage. And, to make it worse, a very high percentage of the film consists of this footage. The scenes without the footage are actually pretty good and the folks do their best.

It's hard to believe now, since he had a good career in films and television, but Peter Graves made several crappy sci-fi/horror films in the 1950s. So, if you find this film unintentionally hilarious, will you be in for a treat if you see him in "It Conquered the World" or "Killers from Space"...films so bad that "The Beginning of the End" looks almost like "Masterpiece Theatre" by comparison!!
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6/10
Will Chicago Be Saved?
bkoganbing18 August 2012
In the Fifties before he got into Fury and then Mission Impossible Peter Graves was the king of science fiction. Some good, some incredibly bad. He did four films that could be classified in that genre, Red Planet Mars, It Conquered The Earth, Killers From Space, and the last one The Beginning Of The End. The last might arguably be regarded as the best of them.

The town of Ludlow, Illinois overnight has its population vanish and its population disappears. A big security blanket is tossed over the situation, but Peggie Castle who is a Lois Lane type reporter discovers the source of the story. Castle is actually the best one in the cast besides those overdeveloped grasshoppers. She's beautiful, determined, and incredibly smart in pursuing her investigative reporting.

Her trail leads to a Department of Agriculture station where Peter Graves is a scientist trying to grow big fruit and vegetables not unlike Captain Nemo in Mysterious Island. And like Mysterious Island, some of the animal life get big too. In this case it's some grasshoppers who feast on some atomic isotopes and develop like the ants in Them.

The Beginning Of The End is a cheaply made science fiction film, but I rather like it. Mankind is really at a loss to stop these things unless Graves finds a way. Otherwise the locusts who have overrun Chicago may have Chicago blown up with them if Ike gives the OK for a nuclear bomb on an evacuated city.

Will Chicago be saved? You have to watch The Beginning Of The End to find out
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Watch Grasshoppers Attack Postcards!
Michael_Elliott3 October 2011
Beginning of the End (1957)

** (out of 4)

Bert I. Gordon will always be remembered for his "giant" movies and this one here is without question one of his most infamous. In the film, a scientist (Peter Graves) and a reporter (Peggie Castle) must help the Army when hundreds of grasshoppers get into some nuclear material, which causes them to grow to gigantic sizes. Soon they start destroying entire cities and they have Chicago on their radar. Gordon's first "giant" movie is about as silly as its reputation would have you believe and thankfully there are some really silly moments that help keep the entertainment level rather high. Needless to say, the actual story here is quite weak and the explanation given as to why the insects are growing is rather silly and hearing Graves have to explain it should have gotten him a special Academy Award since he was able to get through the dialogue with a straight face. While I don't think the movie is as bad as its reputation there's still no way to defend what bad moments are here. I think the biggest burden is that the special effects are so lame that you can't help but laugh and it actually appears they get worse as the movie goes along. The most infamous moment happens at the end of the picture when the grasshoppers are climbing up a building and attacking our heroes who are inside. Now, in order to pull off this special "effect" the filmmakers decided to photograph some sort of postcard or perhaps poster and then have the grasshoppers walk on it. The effect doesn't work but to make matters worse is the now famous moment when one of the grasshoppers walks on the skyline making it obvious that the effect is fake. Another major problem with the effects is that the grasshoppers are always strange looking because they appear as a different color compared to everything else in the frame. I think most producers would have taken a look at these effects and pulled the plug but thankfully they stuck together as we at least got an at times funny picture out of it. At 72-minutes the film moves along well enough even though there are certain times when the film starts to grow cold. The performances are about what you'd expect from a film like this but Graves is at least giving an obvious effort. Just about the only real good thing you can say about this film is that the title is actually an effective one but it's too bad the material wasn't up to its level.
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6/10
A Hopping Good Time!
Hitchcoc23 June 2015
The movie starts out with a couple of "out of control" teenagers necking in a car. Of course, for their horrid behavior (by 1950's standards), they end up being eaten by a grasshopper. Don't you hate when that happens. We find out that an entire town has been decimated and all the residents nowhere to be seen. Peter Graves has been experimenting with a radio-active plant supplement (like in "Tarantula") and is growing tomatoes and strawberries to enormous sizes. For the time being, they are inedible. For the time being, no one puts two and two together. An attractive reporter talks Peter and his deaf/mute assistant (done in by radioactivity) to the scene of a destroyed warehouse where tons of grain was stored. Well, the poor disabled guy gets eaten by a grasshopper. Now they need to convince the army guys that these bugs are around and find a way to stop them. This is a nicely set up monster movie. What pretty much diminishes it are the lousy special effects. The grasshoppers are nothing like the backgrounds, so they are obviously superimposed. At times we can actually see through them. It's also hard to figure out how big they are. Anyway, when they appear it begins to be laughable. Also, a lot of soldiers must have gone home after the war because the guys in this movie are utterly incompetent. Graves also runs the gamut of emotions from A to B. I get a kick out of this movie, but my standards aren't that high.
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2/10
Had I known that I could have made a movie about bugs walking on a photograph of a building to make them look bigger, I would have a field day searching in the fields....
mark.waltz17 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Deliciously bad, this has a few thoughtful moments where reporter Peggie Castle declares in her cynical manner that you never get used to seeing the aftermath of disaster, and in this film, she gets to see her share of horror too with men bigger than her being eaten by the likes of Jimminy Cricket! There's no wishing upon a star for survival here because these giant grasshoppers/locusts/crickets (whatever you want to call them) have an outrageous appetite and are now flooding the south side of Chicago. But before you break into the Ray Price song or "Bad Bad, LeRoy Brown", check out this ultra campy 1950's B science fiction anti-nuclear power horror film where the ideals of giant strawberries and tomatoes created by nerdy scientist Peter Graves lead to the creation of giant blood thirsty creatures. When first seen, the giant cricket comes upon its unknowing victim and gets the audience's attention, not because it is scary, but because its poor victim is so pathetic and lovable. But as lovable as the victim is, that doesn't make this movie any better as the army of crickets stalk the army of man, not leaving any trace of them, just as they had done with the town first attacked by them that has the over crowded population of 132.

While I can see some people putting this on their list of the worst movies ever made, I call this one a guilty pleasure, which up there with the atomic turkey in "The Giant Claw" is one of the silliest looking movie monsters ever. Photos of Chicago buildings (one of which looks like downtown Manhattan's Municipal Building) with the bugs walking on them are so blurry that the so-called special effect is entirely obvious. While I expected to see one of the bugs walk off of the building altogether, there was only a hint of that. There is the repeated shot of the crickets falling off of the building after being shot at, the panic in the streets and parks as public announcements are made of not to panic, interrupted by the loud chirping and sudden arrival of the big pesky bugs. Certainly, the producers and director knew that this would be panned and considered one of the worst movies of the year (or ever), but they knew that they could make a quick bug, oops, I mean buck, and even today, it is deliciously funny even if there was a panic of how nuclear power and other discoveries of the time could have major impacts on things on our planet we take for granted. When this is all said and done, it is an enjoyable guilty pleasure, leading to a clinch for the leading man and lady that prior to that fade-out had not even been hinted at.
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4/10
Good, Cheap Fun
gavin694223 March 2014
Audrey Ames (Peggie Castle), an enterprising journalist, tries to get the scoop on giant grasshoppers accidentally created at the Illinois State experimental farm. She endeavors to save Chicago, despite a military cover-up.

Whether or not you will enjoy this film comes down to whether or not you are ready for good, cheap fun. Yes, the effects are not that amazing and in some cases are incredibly fake. The acting is nothing special, and there are some scenes that are most likely stock footage. But this is a fun, popcorn-eating film! Director Bert Gordon (a Wisconsin native) had his special niche, and he deserves more credit than he usually gets. Maybe some day we will see a nice box set of his work...
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5/10
Your mission, Mr. Graves, should you choose to accept it, is to start out in giant bug movies
lee_eisenberg18 May 2005
Typical giant bug movie. Nuclear fallout turns regular grasshoppers into truck-sized killing machines. Scientist Ed Wainwright (Peter Graves) tries to figure out how to stop the over-sized insects (the solution may or may not be nuking Chicago), while reporter Audrey Ames (Peggie Castle) investigates the whole thing and falls for Ed. As expected, the whole thing is quite laughable (somehow, Illinois has California-style hills), although Audrey is actually pretty hot.

If you really want to watch this movie, then watch the "MST3K" version. Mike, Servo and Crow really have some fun with this one, as you might imagine.
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6/10
A Plague Upon You!
rmax3048231 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
There's a scene near the beginning in which reporter Peggy Castle visits Army headquarters. We watch her drive up to an office building, park the convertible, step out of it, walk up the steps, open the door, and walk through it. Cut.

Ordinary, yes, but what makes it interesting is that this is a B movie shot on a small budget and coming towards the end of the Big Bug cycle. A typical B director wouldn't bother shooting the scene. Suppose Peggy Castle tripped getting out of the car? Suppose she showed too much leg? Suppose the door to the building was stuck? They'd have to do a retake and that costs money. No, in a really cheap B movie, Peggy Castle would tell someone that she's going to Army headquarters, there would be a dissolve, and she'd be talking to a general.

By a commodius vicus of recirculation, all blockbusting A-budget action movies have reached the same tiptoptoloftical ergonomic peak as the cheap features of yesteryear. Somebody directing a thirty-million-dollar movie today wouldn't shoot that transitional scene either. Not because of budget constraints but because the fourteen-year-old brains in the audience might be bored by it, their attention span being limited to two seconds. They might squirm and fidget and throw JuJuBees at each other, and they might tell their friends the movie was dull. There are shekels involved at both ends of the business -- making and marketing.

I now step down off this orator's platform. Please keep the cameras rolling. Somebody give me a hand; I'm suffering from a crippling case of nostalgia. Thank you.

The movie itself follows such a familiar path that it's hardly worth detailing. An incident at an agricultural station involving locusts eating some radioactive material leads to the expected results. Giant bugs. Entomologist Peter Graves and his soon-to-be girlfriend, Peggy Castle, who lends an enchanting whistle to her sibilants, discover a horde of mammoth locusts who make loud noises like the giant ants in "Them". Naturally no one believes them. The National Guard slough their stories off with a chuckle. The doubtful general investigates and the locusts attack him and his men. He gets away with his life but it was a close call, I can tell you.

These gargantuan grasshoppers are interesting creatures. They're always shown in blown-up rear projection or other trickery because I suppose the budget might have allowed Peggy Castle to park her car but there wasn't room for both the car and even a disembodied locust head of the proper giant size. Peter Graves shows the military a movie of locusts while he describes how terrible they are. I didn't know they could be carnivorous, but I guess I can believe it because I've watched crickets eat flies, and a more disgusting sight you've never seen. I had no idea they could grow to the size of an earth mover though. I guess my high school biology teacher was lying when he taught us about book lungs.

Peter Graves, like his brother, James Arness, is likable enough -- tall and handsome. Peggy Castle is alluring but those 1957 hair styles did nobody any favors. I'm not sure Morris Ankrum ever missed a science-fiction movie. You'll recognize him at once. The director must have spent all his energy on that car-parking scene because the rest of the movie lacks any distinction. Oh, except for Graves' entomologist. The credits list him as "Doctor Ed Wainwright. That's apposite enough but everyone calls him "Mister Wainwright", a departure from the norm. Usually PhDs call each other "doctor" in these movies.

Does Dr. Wainwright manage to save Chicago from the plague of locusts, or does the Air Force have to bomb the city flat? The answer is they have to use the atomic bomb and destroy Chicago but it doesn't work and they have to go on to bomb New York City, Los Angeles, New Orleans, St. Louis, London, Moscow, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, and East Quoddy, Maine.
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3/10
Bugs
BandSAboutMovies1 February 2021
Warning: Spoilers
American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres, or Am-Par, decided to create their own film studio to make low-budget movies that they could place into their theaters, signing a deal with Republic Pictures to make them. And after the success of Them!, who else but Burt I. Gordon to make more giant bug movies?

Gordon did the effects by himself in his garage, bringing the magic effect he used for King Dinosaur: grab some animals and shoot them in front of a still photo. So he grabbed 200 non-hopping, non-flying live grasshoppers in Waco, Texas and brought them to California. At that point, the agriculture department got involved and somehow, only 12 grasshoppers live after they all turned into cannibals. One would assume the dozen that are in this movie are the toughest ones of all time.

That said, the film's title was prophetic. For some reason, the studio stopped making films. Luckily for Gordon, he landed at American-International Picture where he kept making giant movies. The Amazing Colossal Man was next.

There's a decent cast in this, with Peter Graves* as the scientist who uses radiation to better grow crops until some crazy locusts eat it all and - you guessed it - get big as well. Peggie Castle, Miss Cheesecake of 1949, was born for films like this and Invasion U.S.A. It also seems like character actor Morris Ankrum was a lock for nearly any science fiction film of this time, as he made Rocketship X-M, Flight to Mars, Red Planet Mars, Invaders from Mars, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, From the Earth to the Moon and this movie in the 50's.

*Whose brother James Arness was in Them!
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When a Can of Raid Just Won't Do
dougdoepke18 July 2013
Hordes of mutant grasshoppers menace photographs of downtown Chicago.

Now if termites had been the menace instead of garden variety grasshoppers, my rear-end might not have ached at the end. Okay, this drive-in special was never intended as Oscar bait. In fact, it hardly makes it as camp, what with all the needless travel time padding the 70-minutes. But you've got to hand it to Graves and Castle who give it their Z-movie all. Then there're those two lordly icons of 50's sci-fi together at last—Ankrum and Browne. No matter how bad the material, they always keep a straight face and stay employed. But come on producer-director Gordon, couldn't you have shown one of those awful scary grasshoppers devouring at least one guy. That way, we could at least have had an 'ick' factor. Otherwise, I kept wondering where the army kept their cans of Raid. As I recall, I was in the back of my teenage Chevy with a six-pack when I first sat through this special. On second viewing, I should have gotten a twelve-pack.
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3/10
Gian Locust monster film, as good as it sounds.
poolandrews27 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Beginning of the End starts as New York journalist Audrey Aimes (Peggie Castle) is driving to Illinois in Chigago, on her way she notices an army roadblock & discovers the small town of Ludlow is sealed off. No-one goes in, her journalistic instinct's peaked Audrey tries to find out what is going on but find the army unhelpful & vague but is eventually told that the entire town of Ludlow has been reduced to rubble & the one hundred & fifty people who lived there are missing. Audrey suspects that radiation might have something to do with it & one of her contacts tells Audrey that the Department of National Acriculture is conducting experiments using radiation & Audrey decides to investigate, Audrey meets head scientist Dr. Ed Wainwright (Peter Graves) who has managed to grow extra large vegetable's using radiation but the two soon discover that a swarm of Locusts ate the experimental vegetable's & have also grown to a huge size. Now the giant Locust's move across the state destroying everything in their path, Dr. Wainwright tries to think of a way to stop them before they take over the world & wipe out mankind...

Produced & directed by Bert I. Gordon who is also credited with the special effects this giant insect film is basically a cheap rip-off of the classic Them! (1954) but substitutes giant killer radiation mutated Ants for giant killer radiation mutated Locust's & it's about as good as it sounds, basically not very. The first thing I would like to ask is what's with the rather cryptic & vague title? It could refer to just about anything, couldn't it? I thought these 50's monster films were supposed to have sensationalistic & lurid titles like Robot Monster (1954), The Thing from Another World (1951), The Monster that Challenged the World (1957) & It! The Terror from Bayond Space (1958). You wouldn't guess from the title Beginning of the End that this film is about giant Locust's & quite frankly you wouldn't know it's about giant Locust's from watching the first thirty odd minutes either as that's how long it takes for one to show up & considering it only goes on for just over 70 minutes that's way too long. The script is very talky with long stretches of boring exposition as the various character's explain how the giant Locust threat is spreading across Illinois, we see very little of the giant Locust's & everything they apparently do is revealed through these scenes of various people talking. For instance we hear that they have destroyed Ludlow & are on the move towards Illinois but we never see it. All of the character's are standard fare, the scientist, the nosey reporter, the authoritative army General & a string of second rate character's who barely get a line of dialogue between them. There are better giant insect films out there, Beginning of the End is one of the poorer examples.

On the few occasions that we do actually get to see the giant Locust's all of the effects shots are achieved by using real Locust's & then photographically blowing them up against the actor's to make them appear huge, to be fair the effect isn't to bad considering the age & poverty of the film although I doubt anyone will be convinced by the effects overall. A real cheap affair the sum total of the US military at the end to save the entire world is a small fishing boat & a radio! The idea that the Locust's basically all commit suicide is also hard to take seriously. The ending just feels rushed & cheap, it's like the makers didn't have any money for a big fight or final confrontation. Not scary or particularly creepy Beginning of the End has little going for it.

Obviously shot on a low budget Beginning of the End was filmed in Chicago, photographed in black and white the whole production is forgettable & bland. The acting is wooden in a 50's sort of way & the woman is nothing more than window dressing & there to scream every so often.

Beginning of the End is a pretty dull film that really shouldn't have been, the low budget didn't help but even at 76 minutes long this drags & is pretty boring. The lack of any significant Locust action also damages what little entertainment value it could have had.
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6/10
BEGINNING OF THE END (Bert I. Gordon, 1957) **1/2
Bunuel197623 January 2010
This was much better than Leonard Maltin's *1/2 rating would suggest: in fact, the unflattering comments in his book (where it is described as "awful"!) pretty much kept me from acquiring the now-OOP Image DVD (complete with Audio Commentary track). Also, watching this hot on the heels of Gordon's other giant insect flick EARTH VS THE SPIDER (1958), I realize he was not always aiming squarely at the exploitation market – for this is as intelligent, indeed persuasive, as they come (knowing the devastation left in the wake of locust plagues, imagine just what would happen if it were to be magnified). Pity, then, that the evident low-budget cramped the overall effort: this is especially true during the climax, where it is obvious the grasshoppers are only normal size and the tall buildings either models or, worse, no more than blown-up photographs! Likewise, the monsters' come-uppance is somewhat rushed: hell, even my mother who came in halfway through and stayed to watch (often commenting aloud on the action as is her amiably irritating habit!) expected the film to end on a shot of the river covered with dead insects so as to stress their annihilation…but there was none!! The small cast is led by likable Peter Graves and lovely Peggie Castle (overcoming the annoying connotations of the obligatory intrepid female reporter part); the most notable supporting characters, then, are Graves' assistant – rendered a deaf-mute by radiation and who naturally is soon made to expire at the hands of the grasshoppers – and the elderly General who, in a desperate attempt to stall the insects' march, is even willing to throw an A-bomb over Chicago!
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3/10
Seen on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater in 1963
kevinolzak31 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Director Bert I. Gordon deserves some credit for his 1957 "Beginning of the End," for at least not giving away its menace in the title as entries like "Tarantula," "The Deadly Mantis," or "The Black Scorpion," toplining well known cast members such as Peter Graves ("Red Planet Mars," "Killers from Space," "It Conquered the World"), Peggie Castle ("Invasion USA," "Back from the Dead"), and the extremely prolific Morris Ankrum. It's a good thing they were hired because the script slavishly apes the 1954 "Them!" right from the opening where two patrolmen investigate a mysterious disappearance, then relay headquarters that the entire Illinois town of Ludlow has been destroyed, and all 150 residents gone. Peggie Castle's news correspondent takes a back seat once Peter Graves enters as an entomologist/anthropologist, whose experiments using radiation to enlarge certain types of fruits and vegetables have yielded a mutation of gigantic proportions, a plague of locusts described as voracious eaters who undoubtedly devour human prey. There's no explanation as to why only locusts are affected, and the perfunctory military response is mostly talked about rather than seen. The final assault on Chicago found Gordon using photographic blowups of skyscrapers onto which the insects crawled, one of the few effects that seem to work. Ultimately the performance of the ever reliable Graves carries the picture through its dull stretches, no mean feat considering how little he was forced to work with. After smaller budgeted efforts "King Dinosaur" and "The Cyclops", this Republic success earned its director a contract with American International, where most of his films would be made into the late 1970s, and this picture's echoes of H.G. Wells' "The Food of the Gods" would be a topic that apparently Gordon just couldn't leave well enough alone.
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2/10
Beginning of a boring movie.
Aaron13751 October 2001
This movie starts slow, goes at a slow pace, and finally ends slow. This movie is about giant locast that are overrunning Chicago. As interesting as this sounds, it isn't. Most of the film is watching grasshoppers that are super imposed on the background just run around. I don't mind using this technique, and I understand why they do back in the 50's, but couldn't they build something. A pincher, anything. Never is a person near one of these killer grasshoppers, at least build part of one and show someone being scooped up. And they are not very consistent on how easy this things are killed. In some scenes the grasshoppers die from regular machine gun fire, the next they can withstand tanks. The only saving grace to the film is actor Peter Graves.
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"There Has To Be A Logical Explanation For This!"...
azathothpwiggins30 May 2020
A pair of amorous teenagers disappear, their car found... destroyed! A small town is demolished, its inhabitants... gone! Police are baffled! The military gets involved! Could all of this be somehow connected to a government project using radiation to grow beach ball sized tomatoes?

It's up to photojournalist, Audrey Aimes (Peggie Castle) and the project's director, Dr. Ed Wainwright (Peter Graves) to solve this mystery before more tragedies strike.

BEGINNING OF THE END is Director Bert I. Gordon's "big bug" extravaganza. He uses a horde of hungry, super-imposed grasshoppers to provide the sheer terror. These huge, mostly disinterested hoppers are a hoot! The Army's first, disastrous encounter with them is a gut-buster as well! The ultimate weapon used against the angry insects is also quite amusing. One of Gordon's most entertaining efforts...
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3/10
"Where do I get off asking the Regular Army for help with a bunch of oversize grasshoppers?"
bensonmum28 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Bert I. Gordon really missed with this one. For a movie that features a band of giant, mutant grasshoppers terrorizing the Midwest, Beginning of the End is very dull. So dull in fact that I had to wake myself three or four times, reverse the movie, and start over again. With droopy eyes, I finally finished the 76 minute movie in 2.5 hours.

It's disappointing really because I've really come to enjoy B.I.G.'s low-budget brand of movie-making. Even when his movies aren't very good in the traditional sense, they're still usually good for a laugh or two. Not here. Likewise, I've come to really enjoy the giant bug movies of the 50s. Whether it's an ant, a spider, or a mantis, these movies are a fun watch. I wish B.I.G. could have done the same with grasshoppers.
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4/10
Why'd it have to be locusts?
ericstevenson10 June 2016
This wouldn't be that bad a movie if not for the fact that it was a film that certainly seemed to have potential. I mean come on, it's a movie with the title of "Beginning Of The End"! There are so many possibilities for what you could do with this! Instead, I was majorly disappointed to find out it was just a movie about giant grasshoppers or insects or whatever they were. There are said to be hundreds of these things, but we only see about a dozen or so of them. The special effects are just embarrassing with obvious stock footage of the insects. It really does look like a post card at the end.

I mean, I guess it's the first movie I've seen with giant locusts, although I'm sure there have been ones with regular sized swarming locusts. This looks more like it was made in the 1930's. No, to say that would be an insult to the classic "King Kong" movie. This is just odd to look at on all levels. I don't understand the end of this. They just go into the water and die? I really don't even care to look into it that deeply. *1/2
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Chicago, Chicago...That Toddlin..I mean Hoppin Town!
BaronBl00d30 May 2001
Dateline: Ludlow, Illinois is ravaged by a swarm of giant mutant, radio-active locusts who kill, devour, and eliminate plant and animal life (yep, that includes humans) on their way to Chicago and then the world. What can stop them? Only scientist Peter Graves, busty reporter Peggy Castle, and that military man of so many sci-fi films of the 50's, Morris Ankrum. This film was directed by Bert I Gordon, and as far as giant mutant creatures go it is definitely one of the lesser efforts. The film has no special effects at all to boast about as the grasshoppers are real and magnified and projected into scenes. Although it has some suitable moments, this technology(for lack of a better word) really suffers in the film's finale and makes the film look like what it is...a very cheaply-made film. The film follows the format of other giant insect films like Them! and Tarantula, but is not in the same class of either of them. The script is leaden, the acting mediocre at best, and the music annoying. Notwithstanding all of this, the film does have its moments and was overall entertaining. Some highlights are moments that are so ridiculous as to be funny, such as when deaf scientist Frank is killed. A real hoot of a scene! If you are looking for intelligent sci-fi, you might want to stay away from this film or it might make you "hoppin" mad.
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2/10
Typical giant bug movie.
13Funbags15 May 2018
This movie has all the cliches. There's the scientist who is not only handy with a tommy gun but also starts giving orders to the military. There's the terrible dialogue. A soldier says "We found some guns, the kind people keep in houses". What?? There's even a guy who says "Worshington". And of course the giant grasshoppers can climb buildings. If you only see one giant bug movie, make sure it's not this one.
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2/10
Buggy B-Movie Never Gets Off Ground
slokes9 January 2005
It looks like more than a couple of the many locusts filmed for this B-movie were actually roasted, blown up, and drowned for the sake of art. If so, they died in vain.

"Beginning Of The End" is a Bert I. Gordon film that shows why people remember Roger Corman so fondly. At least with Corman, there was some offbeat element, a sparkle of wit, to liven up the dullest package. Here, the exercise is so rote and bland, you might as well be watching window cleaners or traffic cops doing their daily chores.

Peggie Castle and Peter Graves were getting enough work in the 1950s that they didn't need to show up here. She's a reporter hot on the trail of a big story, of an Illinois town that mysteriously became a desolate ruin overnight. He is an entomologist with the Department of Agriculture who is using radiation to enlarge crops (kids, don't try this at home) and wonders if something else has grown, too.

Yes, as it turns out. Locusts.

Imagine locusts grown to 20 times the size of a man. Can you picture that? Good. It helps if you can do that for about 90 minutes, because the special effects in "The Beginning Of The End" are little help. The film features superimposed real bugs running over postcards and stock footage, like something you could have done with an ant farm and a Super 8 camera when you were 12. Nothing on screen really seems like anything you couldn't have made at home, not even back in the 1950s.

Graves and Castle aren't well integrated into the story. They spend an absurd amount of time playing odd sounds for captive bugs and staring at oscillators while the city of Chicago blows up around them. The Army, in their infinite wisdom, determines the only way to save the Windy City is to nuke it. Graves ponders another possibility. Locusts seem to like one particular kind of noise. What if that could be used against them?

I wish I could say "Beginning Of The End" is so hokey its fun. The problem is its not bad enough that way to be worthwhile. It's not "Eegah!" or "Robot Monster" where the incompetence gives you something to think about and enjoy. It's strictly by-the-numbers drive-in fodder way past its sell-by date. Graves is especially dull, raising his eyebrow once in a while so you know he's the same guy who delivered that great line about gladiators, but offering little else. Castle does the best here, even showing off the world's first-ever car phone while giving orders to her boss, but she's supercargo way too early.

Even the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang do little to make this worthwhile. Of course, by the time they got around to "Beginning Of The End," Mike Nelson had replaced Joel Hodgson and it was the beginning of the end for that show, too, but even in its glory days MST3K would have had little success skewering "Beginning Of The End." There's just nothing here to skewer.
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5/10
Buggy
ctomvelu115 September 2012
The film that helped usher in Hollywood's giant bug craze, this isn't half-bad. Special effects are pathetic even for the time, but the story is gripping enough and the acting first-rate. Peter Graves plays a scientist working on food growth via radiation. Grasshoppers get at these plants and grow to the size of a bus. They find humans much tastier than their usual fare. They invade Chicago after tearing up the countryside, and it's a race to the finish to see whether anything can be done to stop them before the Army nukes Chicago. Morris "Colonel Fielding" Ankrum is a grumpy general, and Peggie Castle is a reporter investigating the story. Lots of fun. We never see the monsters actually come into contact with any of the humans they devour, but the closeup facial shots of various actors about to be eaten are priceless.
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5/10
"My curiosity supplied the nose for news and the camera supplied the memory"
hwg1957-102-26570410 May 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Giant locusts attack a small town in Illinois before upping their game and invading Chicago eventually being defeated by a heroic entomologist Dr. Ed Wainwright. The film starts off well with a mysterious event and a determined reporter Audrey Aimes trying to discover the truth. But unfortunately when the first giant locust appears badly superimposed the movie starts going downhill, getting sillier as it proceeds along.

Peter Graves is wan as Wainwright but Peggie Castle as the experienced reporter is most watchable. The film also has the reassuring presence of Morris Ankrum and Thomas Browne Henry as military officers so you know things will turn out well in the end.

The giant insect's didn't look scary but the sound of them did but in a monster picture the creature also has to look scary but one look at these pale locusts and suspended belief drops off.
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Another Them Ripoff
Sargebri22 October 2002
This is another in the long line of movies that dared to make a fast buck by ripping off a classic. This was made by the master of cheap giant monster movies, Burt I. Gordon. Instead of ants, the basic premise of this film is what would happen if grasshoppers were irradiated. Also, the scene where the locusts climb the tall buildings is probably the most pathetic thing about this junk. If you look closely, you will see the the "buildings" are actually pictures of buildings. Apparently, Gordon was too cheep to hire someone to build miniatures, which probably would have made it look at least a little better. This film is so much of a imitation of "Them" it's pathetic. Gordon wanted to copy that classic so much that he even went and hired Peter Graves, whose brother James Arness starred in "Them". I only look at this movie to laugh at the cheap effects and the bad acting.
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7/10
I hear some really LOUD crickets tonight....
MartianOctocretr519 February 2012
I love Bert I. Gordon flicks. He used the same shoestring budgets as his contemporary, the legendary Ed Wood, did. However, he seemed to have a knack for pressing the cheese into something pretty tasty. Not Oscar brilliance, mind you: just good old amusing chaos.

Some grasshoppers get a hold of radioactive feed. As usual, soon giant 1950's bugs with voracious appetites go on a vicious hunt for McHuman Combo-Plates. The couple making out while they listen to rockabilly are the oft-seen first victims in a remote place, but many will soon join them, as the (real) town of Ludlow, IL mysteriously disappears. Fresh from exterminating ants in "Them!", Peter Graves comes to the rescue, telling Generals how to eradicate the infestation. Meanwhile, the hoppers have ideas of their own, as they swarm north towards Chicago.

The battle scenes are hysterical: shooting the big bugs off of skyscrapers is one of my fondest memories of childhood late night rerun movie watching. The way they slide off, with antennae flapping is extremely hilarious yet oddly scary in some way. Finally a way to re-enact a biblical extermination of locusts is devised.

Filmed in delightfully cheap ways, this movie is worth re-watching again and again in its naive but enthusiastic approach at classic drive-in horror/sci-fi.
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A nice little gem from Mr B.I.G.
chris_gaskin1233 July 2002
Bert I Gordon (Mr B.I.G.) had already enlarged people and lizards before making Beginning of the End. Here, he enlarged real grasshoppers for the special effects instead of models or stop-motion.

Atomic testing on plants results in giant grasshoppers making for Chicago and the army trying to stop them. After going on the rampage in the country, killing several people in the process, they set their sites on the 'Windy City'. They climb buildings before drowning as a result of a high pitched sound which was invented to attract them.

This movie stars 50's sci-fi regulars Peter Graves (It Conquered the World) and Morris Ankrum (Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, Flight To Mars). Peggie Castle plays the main female lead and love interest. All play good parts and the score in this movie is quite good.

I found this movie enjoyable despite the low budget. Watch it if you get the chance.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
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