Friday, October 12, 2007
31 Days of Halloween - Day 12 - Movie
If you've never seen "The Beast of Yucca Flats" (1961), consider yourself lucky. The movie is worse than the title. It belongs to a small handful of movies such as "Eegah!" (1962) and "Manos: The Hands of Fate" (1966) that have been banned from public exhibition under the Geneva Convention.
The movie is essentailly about a defecting Soviet scientist (Tor Johnson) who flees, by walking at a leisurely pace, from KGB assassins onto a nuclear bomb testing site. A bomb is exploded, and the noted scientist becomes a radiation scarred beast roaming the desert is search of victims. He finds them too. He strangles a woman wrapped in a towel in the film's prologue. He strangles a man trying to determine what's wrong with his car. He then somehow gets inside the car without the man's wife noticing, and strangles her from the back seat. He carries her off into the desert, pursued by two, presumedly, police officers who drive an unmarked car and wear something akin to uniforms. Meanwhile a vactioning family stops in the desert, the young boys wander off, and the parents give a half-hearted attempt to find them. The dad is shot at by one of the police officers from an airplane. The boys drink from what can only be extremely hazardous water and are menaced by Tor who waves a stick at them before the police arrive and shoot him to death. Tor is then nearly tickled back to life by a jack rabbit.
It's actually less clear than that inspite of the fact that there is voice over narration throughout, and maybe 8 lines of poorly delivered dialogue. The narration is abominable. It is clearly meant to be poignant with non-sequitors about the wheels of progress and women's purses. If I had known what i was getting into, I would have bought a lot of beer and invited some friends over to laugh at this movie with. Of course, they'd no longer be my friends after watching it.
This movie does provide a lot of insight into the art of movie directing. Sure, it's ineptly staged and shot, but you can watch as each "actor" carefully listens to the director's instruction, and then carries it out.
The movie did have its horrific ingredients, but non of which were intentional. Tor's radiation scarred make-up was rudimentary at best, but his performance really troubled me; not because it was bad -- I know this man is no actor and is just looking to make an extra buck--but because I kept expecting him to keel over from a heart attack at any moment. This was his last movie, and no wonder. Tor was 59 years old at the time, heavy and out of shape. As I mentioned in the synopsis, in fleeing for his life, he was not even able to mange a brisk walk. He also struggles to rise from a lying position, and struggles to get back into it later in the film. Watching him carry off one of his female victims was equally painful. You can see he's struggling. Being in the desert probably didn't help. The poor guy.
The other horrific moment came with the film's cheesecake moment. No, I'm not talking about the woman in the towel. The wife, or girlfriend of one of the police officers was played by one of the most unattractive women to appear on screen aside from the women in the bar scene of "The Brain That Wouldn't Die" (1962). She had no other purpose than uncover herself in bed, revealing her negligee, sit up, and lean forward several times for those so important cleavage shots, then get back into bed and cover up again. Brrrr.
At 54 minutes, this movie was an hour too long. On the plus side, there is just about zero chance that anything else I watch this month will be anywhere near as bad.