Beginning of the End (1957) Poster

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scarieee movieee (at least when I was nine)
CarlNaamanBrown27 October 2005
Beginning of the End was one of the scariest movies I ever saw. I saw it at the age of nine at our local first-time A-flick theater, the State. When it ran at the second-run B-flick theater, the Rialto, I dragged my little brother Jeff to see it. He watched it from between the seats. We used to sit up and watch Shock Theater and we knew scary when we saw it.

What a lot of people miss today, is that the popular science magazines at the time "Beginning..." came out were full of speculation about using radiation to enhance crops and livestock, just like the experiments in Peter Grave's agricultural station in the movie. I also remember that Bert Gordon's earlier movie, King Dinosaur, came out after a close approach to earth by an asteroid was in the news. These movies were ripped fresh from the headlines.

Yes, the low budget values are low. There's the ponderous pseudoWagnerian Albert Glasser music Da-DUM-da-da-da-DA-DUM motif for reporter-driving-down-road, cop-driving-down-road, reporter-stopping-at-road-block, etc. We see the mountains of Illinois that look suspiciously like southern California (at least they did not use Bronson Canyon in this one (they didn't did they?).)

Yes, they do use the same stock footage three times for rear projection behind characters "driving" down the road, but, hey, they DO tint the stock footage for the nighttime driving scene.

But the woman reporter, Peggy Castle, is not only a good looker, but a strong woman who is treated as a equal by most of the men, who show her respect. She is a tough cookie like Beverly Garland in It Conquered the World. Not a typical 1950s bimbo or weak sister. I always thought Peggy Castle's character taught Peter Grave's character how to be a man.

And when Morris Ankrum is in uniform, you know however dicey the situation, right and good will triumph in the end. Even in the Beginning of the End.

This movie does have a message: if you park on a lonely road and engage in illicit teenage necking, you will be eaten by giant mutant grasshoppers.
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Big Bug Classic
Tom Fowler22 May 2005
This is one of the most enjoyable of the 1950s "big bug" movies. Filmed in 1957, in the middle of my favorite sci-fi era, this film enjoys a better than average cast than you would expect for B science fiction.

People begin to disappear in the surrounding communities outside Chicago. Photographer/journalist Audrey Aimes, portrayed by the lovely Peggy Castle, stops to visit Dr. Wainwright, the Dept. of Agriculture scientist who has used radiation on his plants to make them larger, only to discover that grasshoppers have feasted on them, thus making an army of giant sized locusts. This sounds pretty lame by today's standards but this was standard fare for 1950s science fiction, in the days when we were scared to death of having a nuclear weapon dropped on us and being taken over "from within."

After the discovery of what has happened and why, the rest of the story deals with what to do before the grasshoppers destroy Chicago. Fortunately for all, this did not happen. I won't give the ending away be will provide a hint: View 1963's Day of the Triffids.

Reviewers have not been kind to this film and perhaps rightfully so. However, within the context of the preposterous story and extremely limited budget, its not so bad. Beginning of the End starred Peter Graves, a sci-fi regular of that time in his pre-Mission: Impossible days and whose brother, James Arness, was riding high as Marshall Dillon in television's Gunsmoke. (You may recall that Arness starred in 1954's Them!, about huge ants terrorizing Los Angeles. This was the film that started the big bug craze). Peggy Castle was cool and calm as the female lead and was a forerunner of sorts to today's' strong woman in action films. And, this was yet another film of many whereas Morris Ankrum played a military general.

Special effects were not too good even for that era and are downright atrocious by the standards of today. We see grasshoppers walking upon photos of various places in Chicago and the super imposed shots are of very poor quality. The storyline stretches even the keenest imagination, as we are led to believe that Chicago can be 100% evacuated within 24 hours, and this with thousands of homeless refugees from the outlying communities camping out in the inner city!

Even so, Beginning of the End possesses the low budget charm that subsequent eras have not been able to duplicate. This is one of those films that is fun to watch and is the sole reason one should do so. Saturday night late is the best time. I like to view it alone and recall a far simpler time in my life and our world at large. At least, the times seemed simpler. Perhaps they were not and that may be what films such as these were all about.
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Gotta' Love It!
Bucs19605 August 2002
Bert I gotta love this man. He was the maven of cheapo science fiction films in the 50's and gave us a lot of laughs and fun from his efforts. Don't get me wrong....I think his films are worth watching. There was always a message of some kind, albeit ludicrous and his "special effects" were of the superimposed, see-through type.....but still you get a kick out of viewing people running from oversized insects, amazing colossal men, etc. This film, like most during the 50's deals with mutation of some life form (here it's grasshoppers) into giant beasts who wreak havoc on the this case Chicago or postcards of Chicago as in the building climbing sequence at the finale. Peter Graves, who seemed to be stuck in this type of film for several years, does a serviceable job as the hero but probably wished he could be someplace else. Peggy Castle plays it straight as the gal pal and some other faces that we all know pop up in supporting roles. But it's the grasshoppers who steal the show.....crawling around on pictures, flying through the air and apparently eating people alive. We salute you, Bert I. Gordon!!! You made late night TV viewing worthwhile!
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(you may be...) Begging for the End
mstomaso14 September 2006
Thank you Bert I Gordon for making films which nobody else (except maybe Roger Corman) would dare to make, and for making them so definitively that no one would ever dare to remake them.

The Beginning of the End actually has a promising beginning. It follows Audrey Aimes (Castle) a young woman reporter who runs into a military roadblock and begins snooping around by introducing herself to the operation's CO, who happens to have read some of her wartime coverage and is willing to cooperate to a point. Weird and inexplicable happenings have been reported in a nearby town (site of the roadblock). In fact, we discover, the entire town has been wiped out. When Audrey finally gets to briefly tour the site, we are shown some footage of tornado devastation which is supposed to be the result. Then she meets Peter Graves (playing Peter Graves playing an entomologist working with radioactive plants). there is a decent enough amount of back-story, and the characters are all likable and interesting, but then theatrical disaster strikes - in the form of a totally ludicrous plot.

Two words - giant grasshoppers. And they are split-screened (poorly) into stock footage or scraps from some heavily edited war movie. I .... just can't go ... on.

As the absurdities continue to unfold, you will be impressed by the absolute seriousness with which the cast portrays their characters, and positively blown away by the enormously long cinematographic (un)dramatic pauses as we watch hordes of soldiers marching by in different directions with nothing going on around them, giant out-of-focus grasshoppers climbing up postcards of skyscrapers and sometimes slipping on the glossy surface, and 1-2 minute-long fixed frame shots of cars approaching from miles away.

I love giant monster movies, but this is definitely not one of the better ones. Still, it's harmless, more intelligent than the average sex comedy and more relevant than the usual political campaign.
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Decent giant bug film
vtcavuoto6 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"Beginning of the End" isn't at the top of the "giant something or other" films of it's time but has a certain charm. This time the giants are grasshoppers who are munching their way through the state of Illinois. The movie has an impressive list of great B-movie actors such as Morris Ankrum, Thomas Henry, Hank Patterson, Peter Graves and Peggy Castle. The grasshoppers ate some radioactive food by accident and started growing. They are drowned at the end by a sort of "Pied Piper" lure. The acting carries the film and the pace moves along nicely. The grasshoppers are a bit corny but still the film is enjoyable. If you're a fan of 1950s Sci-Fi/Horror films,it's one to check out.
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The Beginning of the End...already?
Diana29 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
(spoilers) One of the things that struck me about this stock stock footage-a-thon was the female reporter. She was at least ten steps up from the screaming bimbos who proliferated these films and only existed to lean helplessly against the big chested hero guys. True, she did end up doing some leaning on Graves, but she showed a lot more back bone and brains than say the reporter in The Giant Mantis. It was her idea for Graves to find a way to drive the badly rear projected 'giant' grasshoppers into Lake Michigan and thus save Chicago. It was she who discovered Graves and his lab in the first place, and thus made him realize that he'd unleashed a race of giant mutant grasshoppers on the world with his experiments in irradiated vegetation. She had been a photojournalist through two wars, and she stayed to the bitter end with Graves(even though she must have been terrified when the normal size grasshoppers started climbing a post card of the building in Chicago that she was actually in). Not once did I see her scream shrilly, even when the grasshoppers appeared and started eating soldiers. She remained cool under fire, and she got her story. And because Graves can't quite pull off the smug smarminess of John Agar and his ilk, their romance wasn't nearly so vomit inducing as usual. I think my favorite part of the movie is when Graves' scientist character tells the General that he feels at least 'partly' responsible for the giant people-eating grasshoppers. Hello! Earth to Mr. Graves! You are WHOLLY responsible, idiot! My second favorite part is the post card climbing scene, and the tiny pool that the normal size grasshoppers are swimming in that's supposed to be Lake Michigan. Gee..Somehow I got the impression that the Lake is a little bit bigger than that. But then, there are mountains in Illinois, right? Bert I. sure knew what he was doin', all right.
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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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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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Reporter finds true love and saves the world all in one day!
pei814718 January 2005
Beginning of the End (1957) When better to meet your new man than while saving the world from GIANT radioactive grasshoppers! That's what happened to Audrey Ames in "Beginning of the End". Audrey is a persistent reporter who is trying to get the scoop on a new story discovered on her way to a lackluster flying demonstration. On her way to the flying demo, she is stopped at a roadblock to a town that's been mysteriously destroyed! On a hunch, she visits a handsome entomologist named Dr Ed Wainwright. Little does she know that Dr Wainwright is the source of all the trouble in town! After much research, the Dr Ed and Audrey find the first attack site of the killer locust! A little too late for poor Frank Johnson, Dr Wainwright's assistant. Escaping from the locust appetite, the pair try move quickly to convince the army of the problem at hand. After several mistakes and delays, the army is preparing a final assault on the grasshoppers outside and in Chicago! The dilemma: an Atom bomb or a sketchy pied piper routine, which will save the day...

Beginning of the End is an amusing movie to watch! The acting is traditional of the sci fi movies of the era. The special effects are mediocre, but the humor in retrospect is delightful. After some research, I discovered this movie is a B movie attempt at recreating the success of "Them". The studio tried to save some money by using some special effect footage several times and didn't build miniatures to imitate the city. Apparently, the director even went as far as to hire the star of "Them"s brother to fulfill the lead roll of Beginning of the End. The science behind the story line is patchy at best. Several key mistakes were quoted by the scientist and army officers. If you are a fan of cheesy sci fi suspense movies, give this flick a try! You will not be disappointed. Who knows maybe you'll learn something that could save the world the next time we are attacked by radioactive BUGS!
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Another Them Ripoff
Brian Washington22 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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Hopping Good Fun
ClassixFan31 July 2002
Bert I Gordon has given the classic sci-fi and horror community plenty to enjoy and that doesn't mean that Mr BIG's films are going to win any Academy awards, but they certainly entertain and isn't that why most of us watch films? Stars Peter Graves, Peggie Castle amd Morris Ankrum take a back seat to mutated grasshoppers in this classic from 1957. Personally, I skip the MST3K version of the film, the original version is much more fun and entertaining on it's own.
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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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What?... WHAT???
Mike Sh.11 August 2000
Sorry, it's a bit hard to hear myself think over that loud blaring music.

Another opus from Bert I. Gordon (of "Amazing Colossal Man" fame), this was one pretty much cut from the same bolt: huge creatures mutated by atomic radiation, really cheesy special effects (even by '50's sci-fi movie standards), loud pompous music, handsome dashing hero, pert, perky blonde heroine, etc.

This movie may not have Glenn Langan (or even William Hudson for that matter), it does have Peter Graves, which more than makes up for any Glennlessness. (Both movies have Hank Patterson, by the way).

Overall, this is an OK movie, given its time and genre; the really bad special effects previously alluded to will make you smile, and the mellow take-charge presence of Peter Graves will leave you feeling warm and secure - sort like you used to when you fel asleep in the back seat of you parents' car on long trips while Mom and Dad sat up front, taking care of everything.

Aaaahhhhh, now if they'd only turn down that music.
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Typical giant bug movie.
O2D15 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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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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A Plague Upon You!
Robert J. Maxwell1 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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Giant Grasshoppers Attack, and They're Hopping Mad!!! :=8o
MooCowMo14 December 1999
Yes, tired of being covered in chocolate, or turned into snooty mixed drinks, and aided by RADIATION, a swarm (well, 5 or 6) of grasshoppers, thirsting for revenge, becomes the latest giant bug moovie of the 50's. Director Bert I. Gordon seems to have a fixation on giant things - he also directed such feeble classics as "The Amazing Colossal Man", "Villlage of the Giants", and "Empire of the Ants". "Beginning of the End" was his first real BIG moovie, and it serves as a harbinger for all things Gordon to come. Peter Graves("Killers from Space", "It Conquered the World", Mission Impossible tv series) is a bug scientist who discovers that giant critters are ettin' up the local population, and figures out a sex call to drive them all into Lake Michigan. First, cowever, the giant hoppers get to swarm all over Chicago, or at least photographs of buildings. Yes, as expected, the poor fx are pretty laughable: they're just regular grasshoppers superimposed against photographs to make them LOOK giant(sort of...). Sometimes the grasshoppers, not known for their method acting, would wander off the building photographs, thus spoiling the effect. It is fun to watch soldiers machine-gunning the giant locusts off the fake buildings. Schlock-fans will also notice Peggy Castle("Invasion USA", "Cow Country")as Audrey Aimes, the erstwhile Brenda Starr-type female reporter with a nose for giant bug news. The always-present Morris Ankrum("Red Planet Mars","Invaders from Mars", "The Giant Claw") plays the overwhelmed General, who has to look serious as he fights a bunch of bugs. Ironically, Ankrum want to nuke the bugs when it was RADIATION that made the bugs in the first place. :=8/ Yes, mankind has tampered where he should not yet again, but there's always one last resourceful hero to save the day - this is the sort of easy formulaic theme that was literally beaten to death during the 50's, 60's, and even into the 70's & 80's. Of course, even though there is tons of leafy green material around, the grasshoppers immediately want to munch on humans(or else there'd be no film), hence the revenge factor. Cud The giant tomatoes in Peter Graves' lab be a foreshadow for giant tomatoes to come?? ;=8) The herd loved the car-phone Peggy Castle uses - were such things available in the 50's?? The MooCow says this 50's classic monster-fest is mooost-viewing for all horror fans because there are sooo many chuckles within. Munch on a huge salad and enjoy! ;=8)
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Fiction is Stranger than Truth
twanurit3 April 2003
Peggie Castle portrays a Brenda Starr-style reporter investigating the wipe-out of a small suburban town outside Chicago. The military won't reveal information, so she winds up at an entomologist's compound, headed by Peter Graves. His nutrients have created super vegetables, for world hunger, but with horrific repercussions. The first appearance of a gigantic locust is frightening, aided by excellent Albert Glasser music, shrill insect sounds and competent special effects (real bugs magnified via rear projection and/or mattes). The acting is all polished by Graves, Castle, perennial favorite Morris Ankrum (as a general, again), others. Military stock footage is seamlessly interwoven into the battle scenes. The Special Edition DVD print is beautiful (skip the shoddy Mystery Science Theater version - I HATE MST, they ridicule good pictures), looking like a new film, shimmering black and white photography, properly framed at 1:66 to 1, eliminating any grasshoppers crawling outside a skyscraper into the sky. 73 minute running time works wonders, without bloated padding and gratuitous violence. It moves efficiently and competently, thanks to director Bert I. Gordon and the rest of the crew.
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Great Special Effects indeed ...
dweilermg-15 July 2018
* Back in 1950s there was no CGI or other computer technology for special effects so producers had to be creative. The scene where giant grasshoppers are crawling up the Wrigley Building was done by have real grasshoppers walk across an 8 by 10 photograph of Wrigley Building lying on a table and photographed close-up. Brilliant indeed.
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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, 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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Why'd it have to be locusts?
Eric Stevenson10 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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Beginning of the End
Phil Hubbs7 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Still in the year of 1957, the year of the sci-fi thriller it seems. Its pretty clear to see that this movie came to be purely from the success of 'Them!' which revolved around killer ants. Although I really have no idea which giant bug movie was thought up first from the vast array of clones. Considering this is about giant locusts/grasshoppers, which are hardly terrifying really, leaves me to think this may have been all that was left to utilise after the obvious bugs like scorpions, mantis, slug-things etc...were all in production.

So what's this all about you say? well let me see. A small town with all its inhabitants vanish, well the people vanish, the town is destroyed. Onto the case stumbles a young attractive journalist who smells a rat and starts to poke around. After much dialog and wondering around from place to place we finally meet up with the good looking Dr Wainwright who is experimenting with radiation on crops to make them bigger. Hmmm I wonder if this has anything to do with it. Why yes! low and behold grasshoppers managed to eat some of the infected crops and now they are as big as a barn. Standard procedure then requires that the army (national guard) be brought in to try and stop the giant bugs, which of course proves ineffective. Thusly we are draw into a tense situation as Dr Wainwright and his attractive journalist partner must come up with a devious plan to stop the mutant hordes.

Basically this is a complete rerun of 'Them!' only with much worse effects. The actors are merely props for the movies giant bugs which clamber around over awkward models. The funny thing is, the giant bugs don't actually turn up for ages! not until the 27 minute mark. Up until that point the acting is actually pretty good strangely enough, you'd think this was a proper suspense movie. Both Peter Graves and Peggie Castle are very engaging in their respective roles. I wasn't sure which way Graves's character would go to be honest, kinda thought he might be some kind of loony scientist villain for a time. Castle of course does everything a woman would do in a 1950's B-movie, scream and look pretty, but she is also quite a strong character when it comes down to it. The only other character that stuck was Morris Ankrum as Gen. Hanson who came across as the stereotypical gruff military type with a buzz haircut, almost like a Jonah Jameson type character.

Once the giant bugs appear everything goes downhill terribly I can't lie. Basically what they've done is enlarged rear projection footage of real grasshoppers against the live action of the actors. This, of course, is nothing unusual in these type of movies (every driving scene ever!), but the fact that the footage is clearly real grasshoppers makes it ridiculously stupid. In other scenes they have used traveling matte effects as the bugs shuffle across live action footage of the actors, again looking awful and disjointed. But the worst has to be the cheap-ass visual effect of having the hoppers crawling on a large photo of a building...and pretending its a real building. Its actually a real eye-opener because you can clearly tell its a photo. There are one or two model shots of Chicago when the bugs attack the city, but again its so very obvious, clearly tiny bugs bumping into models.

Its not all bad though, the action is quite intense at times when the actors break out the big guns and machine guns, blasting away at nothing. You could almost be fooled into thinking you're watching a gritty war flick at times. Sadly that's all though as nothing much else happens here, you don't see any form of death or attacks or anything. Every time a hopper is about to eat someone the matted hopper just moves over them and it cuts away, there is no destruction or carnage at all which makes it hard to engage in the fantasy. I'm not expecting blood and gore of course but you can tell that they weren't able to do anything due to budget limitations and the fact the hoppers were matted on top. There is never any life size models/puppets of the hoppers to interact with the actors. Don't even get me started on the finale where they drown all the hoppers, clearly real hoppers filmed in a small tube of water.

I think the most interesting aspect of the whole movie is the stock footage, of which there is a lot used. There is of course lots of footage of the military in action, training wise and real war time stuff (I'm guessing), which is interesting to see...for obvious reasons really. Other stock footage shows in and around 1950's Chicago which was also pretty cool I thought, amazing to see the changes.

Now I did enjoy this but mainly for hilarious reasons. Its not exactly the same as other bug B-movies, for instance there was no smartly dressed, old fashioned, crusty old scientist guy who knows everything, and they don't kill the bugs with any weapons here, they just use their ingenuity. Errr...but that's about it, every other cliché is here from the screaming female to the gruff military dude, and of course the movies poster is awesome but doesn't represent the movie whatsoever. This definitely comes under the 'so bad its good' banner I think, hokey effects, cookie cutter plot, but decent acting amazingly.

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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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Attack of the Giant Stock Footage
William Samuel6 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I've heard it said that if you've seen one giant monster or nature run amuk movie, you've seen them all. I'm not sure about that, but I do feel safe in saying that if you've seen one Bert I Gordon movie, you've seen them all. "Who's that?" you say. Bert I Gordon, aka Mr. B.I.G., was a somewhat prolific B-movie director from the fifties through the seventies, rather in the same vein as Roger Corman.

But while Mr. Corman worked mainly for American International Pictures, and directed all manner of low-budget offerings, Gordon worked for whatever studio would hire him, and had a more specialized niche: movies about giant creatures. He did endless variations on this theme; giant ants in Empire of the Ants, prehistoric beasts in King Dinosaur, giant rats and wasps in Food of the Gods, out of control teenage giants in Village of the Giants, and giant locusts in this film, Beginning of the End.

Another difference between Corman and Gordon was their production values. Corman usually had low budgets to work with, necessitating the use of flimsy models, cheap monster suits, second rate production facilities, and a fair amount of stock footage. The budgets of Gordon's films on the other hand were virtually nonexistent, forcing him to rely on improvised sound stages in offices or vacant warehouses, practically endless stock footage, and severe overuse of rear projection shots. This is where you place the actors in front of a screen, onto which you project the giant monsters they're supposed to be fighting or running from.

I've already mentioned that this movie is about giant locusts. These locusts became giant because they ate giant vegetables that were created using radioactive isotopes as part of a Department of Agriculture experiment run by Peter Graves. Now based on his later work in movies like Airplane! I still believe him to be a decent actor who got a bad rap. But I admit that seeing the number of Z-grade movies like this that he's appeared in, it's pretty easy to see how he acquired that reputation. But I digress. As a side effect of their rapid growth, the locusts have become ravenous, and carnivorous. And so, after destroying a small town and eating Graves's lab assistant, they attack Chicago and do battle with the United States army.

As befitting the nonexistent budget, the special effects are equally nonexistent. The small town destroyed before the start of the movie looks suspiciously like newsreel footage of a tornado's aftermath. And in every scene with the locusts, it's painfully obvious that they're just regular grasshoppers who have been shoddily edited into footage of the actors. Much of the film consists of grasshoppers wandering through battle footage from previous war movies and newsreels. If you look closely you can actually see them walking through the tanks and guns. The handful of extras in soldier's uniforms do their part, firing into the air and backing away in terror, but when their eaten, it's always just off-screen.

And for the ultimate in cinematic penny-pinching, look no further than the scenes of locusts climbing Chicago's most famous buildings. Anyone with good eyesight will quickly realize that what the locusts are climbing is actually postcards of famous Chicago buildings. At one point a grasshopper even walks off into thin air- and they still put the shot in the movie. These people weren't even trying. And then there's the rather anti-climactic climax, in which the locusts are lured into Lake Michigan and drown. It's just footage of grasshoppers swarming across stock footage of Grant Park, and then a close up of dead grasshoppers bobbing around in water.

The only thing that saves this movie from complete awfulness is the bad laughs generated whenever the locusts appear on screen. Even this would probably have gotten old after a while if I hadn't been watching the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 version. If there was ever a movie that was meant to be mocked, this is it. I would highly recommend MST3K episode to fans of the series or anyone looking for some laughs. As for the original, I can only recommend it for curing insomnia. Trust me; you'll be out cold from boredom long before the first locust appears.
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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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