Thursday, July 14, 2011
The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
There comes a point in every horror fan's life where they come face to face with a beast so bad... so horrific... so ill conceived that they wonder how it could've possibly been brought forth. "The Beast of Yucca Flats" is one of those points in my life.
While fleeing Soviet agents, scientist Joseph Javorsky is caught in the explosion of an atomic bomb. The blast transform him into a beast that rampages across the countryside... with the authorities on his trail...
"The Beast of Yucca Flats" has been described by some critics as being far worse than Ed Wood's infamous "Plan 9 From Outer Space"- with good reason.
Since the dialogue wasn't recorded at the same time as it was filmed, it was put into a rather bad position to begin with. Every spoken word and sound effect was added in post production. Rather than matching the dialogue with the mouths of the actors, the scenes are edited so that you can't see the speaker's mouth... or they're off screen when talking. The dialogue is also limited- replaced mostly with a voice over narrator... who speaks in cliches and enigmatic phrases that are probably meant to seem deep and profound. I found them somewhat nonsensical and irrelevant to the story in most cases.
I can't say the acting is bad, since there really isn't much in the way of acting. Tor Johnson- who plays the beast, and is a cult horror icon for his B-movie roles, does the most acting... and even then there isn't a lot of it. Mostly waving his arms and shambling across the scenery. His best scene- and one that actually made me smile was when he enters a cave where he'd left a dead woman earlier. He discovers that the cops had found and removed her body. The narrator intones, "Finding his victim gone, the beast unleashes its fury..." and Johnson howls and tosses a rock the size of his head before laying down for a nap. Now that's fury!
To be honest, I hardly found The Beast to be scary. The extent of Javorsky's transformation was some make-up that looked more like someone smeared some oatmeal, or something similar on the actor's face, and ripped his shirt a bit.
The story wasn't very engaging... nor did it make much sense- especially the opening scene. The movie starts with a murder (supposedly by The Beast), but nowhere is there time for The Beast to commit the murder... nor is there any mention of this one. When film historian Tom Weaver interviewed producer Anthony Cardoza, Cardoza said that the opening scene was added in post production simply because the director like nude scenes. There isn't even that much nudity in it.
This film's only saving grace is that it's only 53 minutes long... but it's still and "Ugly" 53 minutes...