Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

Who's in it?: Tor Johnson (Plan 9 from Outer Space, Bride of the Monster)

What's it about?: An irradiated scientist (Johnson) mutates and goes on a mindless killing spree.

How is it?: This movie is such a liar. It starts with that poster that claims Johnson plays a "double role." They're counting both the scientist and the "beast" that he mutates into (actually just some ripped clothing and radiation burns). And the woman on the poster is in one scene: lounging - unspeaking - in a bed that one of the main characters crawls out of to go hunt the Beast. That she made the poster and the cover of one DVD print goes to show how little this thing has going for it.

Seriously. It's basically a silent movie with some sound effects, voice-over narration, and dramatic readings. The most entertaining thing about the movie is watching the director figure out new ways of keeping the actors' mouths off camera so that someone can fill in the voices later in ADR. The narration starts off laughable too, but becomes increasingly annoying the more times the narrator refers to being "caught in the whirlwind of progress" and/or "the wheels of justice." The platitudes just...keep...coming: "the hunter and hunted," "man's inhumanity to man," "kill or be killed." It's like listening to that one kid in school who insisted on reading his poetry to you, except this time you don't have to feel like a jerk for snickering out loud.

Every once in a while the narrator says something awesome like, "Nothing bothers some people, not even flying saucers." Of course, there's no flying saucers in the movie, so it makes no sense, but at least it's original.

There's no plot either. It's barely a story at all; just a series of connected scenes. Scientist Johnson arrives in Nevada to defect from the Soviets, but is chased into the Yucca Flat nuclear test region by Russian assassins and turns into Beast Johnson. Then there's a bunch of scenes of him killing people before eventually settling in to stalk a couple of vacationing kids who wandered away from their car. By "stalk" of course I mean that he lumbers after them, shaking his walking stick at them like he's trying to get them off his yard.

The Beast of Yucca Flats uses a walking stick. Tor Johnson, ladies and gentlemen.

I haven't even gotten yet to the pair of cops who track the Beast and accidentally try (hard!) to kill the father of the missing kids. Or the hint that the Russians made it to the moon first, but is never mentioned again. There's nothing Good about this movie. It's unintentionally funny for a while, but watching it by myself, rolling my eyes at it lost entertainment value about thirty minutes in. If you must watch it, have some friends with you. I'd say that the best thing about it is that it's less than an hour long, but it still could have stood to lost another forty minutes.

Rating: Turkey.


snell said...

You know, you really need to watch the MST3K treatment of some of these movies. Just might save your sanity...

Michael May said...

I've seen a lot of them that way, but it's been so long that I don't remember them. I'm kind of digging watching them pure, but after I finish them this way, I'll probably go back and watch the MST3K versions to restore my soul.


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