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Night Fright


Title: Night Fright
Year Of Release: 1967
Running Time: 76 minutes
DVD Released By: Alpha Video
Directed By: James A. Sullivan
Writing Credits: Russ Marker

Starring: John Agar, Carol Gilley, Ralph Baker Jr., Dorothy Davis, Bill Thurman
Taglines:
None Found
Alternate Titles:
E.T.N.: The Extraterrestrial Nastie

Fright Night (TV title)
Review Date: 10.11.11

Shadow's Title: "Day-For-Night Fright"

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DVD
Night Fright

Characters
Sheriff Clint Crawford - The Good Sheriff here thinks it’s major happenings when a rocket crashes just outside of town. Too bad the Feds shoo him away. Lucky for him a new case lands in his lap: a murderous mutant from that rocket is on the loose and snacking on the locals. What to do.
Nurse Joan Scott - She works at the local hospital and is Sheriff Crawford’s main squeeze. Then again, she seems to be his only squeeze. She looks a little young for him, but maybe she thinks being married to a lawman is upwardly mobile. She lacks common sense in times of crisis.
Chris Jordan - This dork is some local college student. Apparently he is working his way though an entire dormitory of women. When not boring them with his awkward musings about life, the universe and everything, he likes to take his dates on long boring car rides through Satan’s Hollow.
Judy - This young woman sports one of the most dated hairstyles I have seen in some time. That and her ancient wardrobe doesn't help. It’s a pity, cuz she’s rather cute…that is, until she opens her mouth. Then she turns into the stereotypical whiny, jealous broad.
Rex Bowers - This guy is supposed to be another college student, but he looks like he’s closer to thirty. He also looks like he just joined a Liberace impersonation troupe. He’s the local loudmouthed, hotheaded youth who defies the law and winds up ripped to pieces...off screen, of course.
Darlene Scott - She is Rex’s girlfriend as well as being the younger sister of Nurse Joan. She used to date Chris, but for some reason they no longer are a couple, though she seems to still have feelings for him. Too bad he’s now more interested in getting in Judy's helmet hair.
Deputy Ben Whitfield - I have to believe that this guy has coasted through his job for years, not really having to deal with any major crisis. That’s why when confronted with a mutant monster, his panicking only leads to him getting his ass handed to him by said beastie.
Deputy Pat Lance - Sheriff Crawford’s other deputy and I hesitate to call him the competent one. After all, he’s too busy refilling his coffee cup too hear Ben’s frantic screams for help over the radio. Not that he could have helped, but being on the ball would at least looked good.
Wes Blau - Ace reporter for the Holliston Gazette, he tries to investigate the rocket crash, but is turned away by the feds. Then he gets involved with Crawford’s monster/murder case. Seemed like a decent guy, but predictably was more interested in selling newspapers than protecting the public.
Professor Alan Clayton - Former university biology professor and cape Kennedy employee. He was involved with the folks who shot a rocket into space to see how cosmic radiation would affect different animals. Spends an inordinate amount of time smoking his pipe.
Carla - She was only in a couple scenes, but she gets quite a bit of screen time. Oh, not showcasing her face, mind you. No, the camera lingers an awful lot on her butt in several shots when all the young people are out at the lake having their shindig and dancing around like fools. The Monster - This is about as good a look at the beast as you're gonna get. The producers seemingly went out of their way to only feature the monster in darkened scenes and with the briefest glimpses of it. Not the most ideal turn of events for us monster loving movie fans.

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

Police Squad!......In color!Things start off with a young couple parked along a lonely stretch of rural road, surrounded by trees. They are in the backseat of a convertible, busily trying to determine what each other’s previous meal was by shoving their tongues down one another’s throat. A chorus of crickets tell us that it is night time, but the clear blue sky and only marginally darkened surroundings denote a more obvious truth: day-for-night photography has settled across the land.

Apparently they are parked in a local area known as Satan’s Hollow, which must not go a long way toward luring in tourists to the region. Seriously, where would you rather go camping…Satan’s Hollow or Shady Pines? I rest my case. Anyway, as the young girl wonders why her male companion brought her to this place rather than to “the lake,” a news bulletin on the radio can be heard, talking about the fiery object that was seen falling to earth an hour earlier and which has crashed somewhere nearby.

No sooner has that bit of news been delivered than the film switches to a POV shot, making it clear that someone or something is walking around in the nearby trees, approaching the car. The couple listens to the news report and then goes back to their necking, unaware of the approaching cameraman…er…something. Finally, with the camera practically shoved into their faces, the girl looks up to see whatever it is that has been stalking them. She screams and then…

…we switch to a different young woman laughing. We will come to know this girl as Judy. She is standing outside of a dormitory – or some other such place where a bunch of young women co-inhabit – and talking to some other gal. It is bright outside, so we can assume that this is occurring the next day. Then Chris rolls up in his car, presumably to pick Judy up for a date. She ducks inside for a moment, which gives Chris the chance to talk to a couple girls on an upper balcony. When Judy reappears, she doesn’t seem pleased that her man was talking to other females. Either she is the most jealous gal in ten counties, or Chris has a reputation for having a wayward eye…and possibly other wayward body other parts.

They hop in the car where via some truly painful acting, we learn that Chris once dated one of the girls on the balcony and Judy doesn’t want him doing anything more than just talking with the gal in question. As they drive off, the music kicks in with a theme best described as…cheesy. It really doesn’t suit a horror film. In fact, it doesn’t really seem to fit any sort of theatrical film at all. It sounds more like the cheesy music one would have found in old films made for school students. As a young child in the 70’s and early 80’s, I was exposed to many such films that had been produced in the 60’s and that centered on such engrossing topics as agriculture, forestry, the growth of modern manufacturing industries and other such coma inducing themes. They often featured music such as the piece heard here. In fact, hearing it now reminds me of those days and how we loved watching those films, no matter how dry the subject material. As long as it got us away from our books for a few minutes, we thought it was just grand.

"I bring all my dates here. In fact, they're all buried right over yonder."So Chris and Judy take a drive to…you guessed it – Satan’s Hollow. They park and decide to take a little stroll through the woods. They discuss the recently fallen fiery object and how it was supposed to have crashed nearby. Judy playfully refers to it as a flying saucer. Then, in another moment of painful acting sure to cause your intestines to burst forth from your gut as if in response to a line of Vogon poetry, Chris expounds upon his thoughts on nature, the universe and the meaning of life.

To save us from the pain of this stumbling soliloquy of suffering (alliteration, gotta love it), a car rolls up with two more young couples. This group invites Chris and Judy to the beach for a party, but they opt to stay put. The others drive off and before Chris can continue voicing his near incoherent thoughts, Judy suggests they take a walk. After a brief stop to laugh about one of their professors (which suggests they are in college and lending support to the idea that Judy resides in a dorm) Chris kisses her, which prompts Judy to go prancing playfully through the woods. Chris pursues her and after several seemingly endless shots of them racing through the trees, during which that cheesy musical theme is recycled, Judy suddenly stops and screams in horror, looking at something on the ground.

Instantly we switch to a close up of a blaring vehicle siren, which for a moment made me think the movie had gotten erased and replaced with an old Police Squad episode. Then the film’s title appears. It’s about time! Nearly eleven and half minutes in and the credits are finally rolling. As they unfold we are treated to the sights and sounds of car racing down rural roads.

Now we see that Sheriff Clint Crawford, Deputy Ben Whitfield and other authorities have arrived on the scene. No, not where Chris and Judy have discovered something, but where the oft-mentioned fiery object has crashed. It seems it was not a UFO or flying saucer, but a rocket sent up by good old Uncle Sam. The place is crawling with feds, who won’t let the small time Sheriff or his fat deputy anywhere near the thing. Considering that all we see are normal trees and no sign of a burning crash site, I’m guessing the actual impact crater is some ways off.

Just as Sheriff Crawford and Deputy Whitfield are about to leave, a car pulls up, driven by Professor Alan Clayton, the former head of the biology department at the local university who now works for the government. Apparently he has been called in by the feds to consult on the crashed rocket case.

About now, the group spies an ambulance (the same one we saw during the credits) roaring down a nearby road. At the same time a call comes in over the car radio, reporting a murder in Satan’s Hollow. Sheriff Crawford and Professor Clayton make plans to get together over a cold beer later, then the two county lawmen race to the murder scene.

"You're right...that dress she was wearing was hideous."When they arrive, the coroners are loading up the body of the young woman we saw at the very beginning. Apparently whatever is left of her is a rather grisly sight. Her male companion is still alive, though in pretty bad shape and has already been raced to the hospital. Crawford and Whitfield discuss who or what might have chewed up the poor girl so bad. About now, Wes Blau arrives on scene. Wes is the local newspaper man, representing the Holliston Gazette. He was just chased away from the rocket crash site by the feds. Hearing where the sheriff had gone, he decided to follow.

Crawford enlists his aid in searching for clues before he will tell him anything about the murder. The three men split up and begin scouring the nearby area, hoping to find a lead. What follows is nearly three minutes of various shots of the three men stumbling through the woods. The lighting changes from shot to shot, from overcast to what appears to be late afternoon; all depending on who the camera is following. At one point Crawford hears some grunting from behind some bushes and draws his gun. Alas, it’s nothing more than some wild pigs.

Finally Wes finds something and calls the others. Why, it’s a strange footprint in the soft dirt. Large and denoting three toes, it was obviously left by a biped, which seems odd, since according to Whitfield, it resembles the tracks of an alligator more than anything. Crawford sends Wes back to the car to radio his other deputy while he sends Whitfield to see where the odd tracks came from. Meanwhile, he plans on following the prints to see where they lead.

More footage of Crawford stomping around the trees follows. He finds some odd hairs stuck to a tree at one point. Eventually, a large shadow moving through the woods tells us that whatever made those prints and owned the missing hair is now moving around close by. The ominous musical cue was another clue.

Before the owner of the shadow can ambush Crawford, the Sheriff is drawn away by the sounds of an approaching car. It’s Rex Bowers and a bunch of his friends. Rex is a local youth who has more bravado than brains and who appears to be closer to 30 years of age rather than 20. His girlfriend is Darlene Scott, the younger sister of the woman Sheriff Crawford is currently dating. Rex and his pals were planning on partying at some local cabin, but Crawford tells them to leave, knowing there is a killer nearby but not wanting to alarm anyone by spreading the news. In predictable fashion, the kids are not happy about being told to leave and Rex mouths off, referring to Crawford as “fuzz.” Crawford does not like this and makes it clear to Rex that he has to leave.

Rex roars away in his car, narrowly missing both Crawford and the approaching Whitfield, who has found nothing. Well, nothing aside from the fact that the tracks came from the east…from the general direction of the rocket crash site.

"There's no Carfax for this piece of crap."The two men head back to the crime scene, where Wes is snapping pictures of the area. He tells Crawford that Deputy Pat Lance is on his way with the material required to make a plaster cast of the odd footprint. He also informs the Sheriff that news has come in that “the Williams kid didn’t make it.” No doubt this was the young man that survived last night’s attack, but has since died.

Turning our attention to town, we visit the local malt shop/café/burger joint/whatever. It’s wherever the local youths go to hang out. Rex and his pals are there, looking bored and annoyed.

Over at the hospital, Crawford arrives and sees Nurse Joan Scott, his girlfriend. He has to cancel their plans for that evening, but she understands, having been on duty when the two murdered kids were brought in. There is some small talk and then he leaves.

Back at the café, Rex has decided that he is not going to let the Fuzz ruin his plans. When it gets dark, he is going to return to the lake and party. The others agree and think it might be a good idea to invite Chris and Judy along, too. Chris just happens to be standing nearby, on the phone with Judy and making plans for the evening. Eavesdropping, Darlene can tell that Chris and Judy will want to be alone and doesn’t even bother inviting him to the newly planned shindig.

At the Sheriff’s office, Crawford is about to suffer cardiac arrest, he’s so worked up and angry. It seems he has placed a call to the state barracks, requesting aid in the form of state troopers, but has been told that due to staffing shortages, he cannot have any. Apparently his anger is enough to convince the person on the other end of the phone to change their mind.

Newspaperman Wes is eager for some details on the case, but Crawford is adamant that he hold off on publishing anything for a day or two, citing public safety. Reluctantly, Wes agrees. He leaves and takes a package from Crawford to be mailed to the state crime lab. Presumably it contains the strange hair that Crawford found earlier. Next Crawford has Deputy Pat get Professor Clayton on the phone for him. As an expert in biology, the Professor would no doubt be helpful in identifying the odd prints.

Elsewhere that night, Judy is picked up by Chris. She seems nervous and scared by recent events (finding those murdered kids), but he just advises that they get something to eat and get back to normal. They head to the café/burger joint only to be told by waitress Betty that Rex and the others have already left for the lake, unaware that there is a killer on the loose. Betty wants to call the Sheriff’s department and warn them about the Rex and the others, but Chris says he could not care less about Rex…who happens to be a former “acquaintance” of Judy’s. She guilts Chris in to calling the authorities by reminding him that while he doesn’t like Rex, he should care enough about Darlene and the others to do something. Alas, the Sheriff cannot be reached, nor can Judy’s sister. The only option is to head out to the lake themselves and warn the others.

If it is supposed to be night, then where are all the stars?Out at the lake, there is a sizable gathering of young folks dancing to some ancient music. I guess what they are doing is dancing. In my day, a person moving like that only did so when they had to take a massive shit and the bathroom was already occupied, forcing them to wait.

Now I know this film was made two years before I was born and the gals on display are old enough to be my mother, but damn there are some nice looking booties gyrating around in this scene. Yes, I’m a hopeless lech. Alas, while the female figures may be nice to look at, the fashions – in both colors and design – are truly horrendous.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Crawford is visiting Professor Clayton and showing him the plaster cast of the print found earlier that day. He agrees to let Clayton keep the cast and examine it further until morning. Leaving, the Sheriff heads for Satan’s Hollow.

We cut away to see Joan returning home from work at the hospital. There she finds a note from her sister Darlene, explaining that she has gone to the lake with Rex and the gang. Joan calls the Sheriff’s office, but Crawford is not there. She tries Clayton’s place next, but Crawford has already left, so she heads back out in her car.

Returning to the lake, we see that the group of young people are still moving around awkwardly as if engaged in a contest where everyone drinks ex-lax shooters and the last one to crap their pants wins a million bucks.

The movie has reached the forty-five minute mark and aside from a funky footprint and a vague shadow, has not bothered to show us what the monster looks like. The creature in question is about to appear on screen for the very first time, but that still does not mean we will know what it really looks like. What do I mean by that? Read on…

Deputy Whitfield is patrolling some lonesome road – most likely in the Satan’s Hollow area, when he comes to a crashing halt. There in the road ahead of him is the monster! Well, the suddenly ominous music in addition to the growls emitted by the beast attest to the monster being present, but aside from the most vague of outlines, we can’t see a damn thing. The problem is, the day-for-night photography is just utter shit and since the creature costume is already on the dark side in color, it makes it very hard to determine just what in the hell we are looking at. Going frame by frame and watching any scene with the critter will eventually reveal that the beast is a BHM…aka a Big Hairy Monster in the grand tradition of Bigfoot. However, the head is hairless and is more reminiscent of a reptile. Kinda sorta. It is very dark after all. At times it appears like distorted skull.

"Raar, I'm a monsta! Hello? Hello? I said I'm a MONSTA! Hey, can anyone even see me?"Deputy Whitfield nearly shits his pants (good thing he’s not partying with the kids) and throws the car into reverse. He tries to execute a three-point turn since the road is not wide enough to flip a bitch. Alas, the car gets stuck in the soft soil and goes nowhere. With the beast closing in (lots of Monster-Cam to denote how close it is getting) the deputy tries radioing into base for help…after rolling up his window! Yeah, like a couple millimeters of glass are going to keep that thing at bay.

Now, my only question at this point is this…just what in the f*ck does he think the guys at the office are going to do? Activate their transporters and beam him out of there? Hop on their light cycles and race down there in ten seconds flat to render assistance? Threaten to call immigration on this unwanted visitor? Calling on the radio for help when the monster is mere feet away and getting closer is just flat out Darwinian stupid. The wise choice is to exit the vehicle in an efficient manner and then ambulate down the road away from the creature with all due haste. In other words, bail and run like hell. Nope, this moron keeps trying to call into base.

Unfortunately for Whitfield, no one is answering him at the Sheriff’s office because the sole fool on duty is Deputy Pat Lance. Pat is busy getting a cup of coffee and is thus not in the same room as the radio and cannot hear Ben’s frantic and increasingly desperate cries for help. From over the radio come the sounds of breaking glass, gunfire and Ben’s horrible death screams. Alas, Pat is not around to hear, no doubt in search of a donut to accompany his coffee.

There is more screaming at the lake, but it’s just the young folks having a good time. As they dance and move about trying not to soil themselves, we see something big and hairy moving through the woods. No it’s not a bear or Ron Jeremy. It’s the monster, which seems to be really getting around. I must say, as the kids dance, the camera really seems to focus a lot on Carla's ass in particular. I’m not complaining, mind you, just pointing it out.

Chris and Judy arrive and let loose with their warning. Naturally, Rex does not react well to it and heated words are exchanged. It’s not long before he and Chris are rolling round on the ground in a fight. Chris really owns this fight and is beating the crap out of Mr. Bigmouth when Rex gives in and surrenders. Imparting one last warning to everyone, Chris and Judy hop back in their car and leave.

"You are such a slob."Everyone decides to follow suit and split. Everyone except Rex that is. He decides to stay and Darlene opts to stay with him. They get in his car and start to make out, oblivious to the monster approaching just feet away. Eventually Darlene looks up and sees the beast. She screams and jumps from the vehicle (it’s another convertible). Rex turns around and sees the creature, letting loose with a scream of his own. It’s not made very clear, but I think the monster kills him. Or at least throttled him really good, to the point where he dies later. Whatever the case, the monster begins chasing Darlene through the darkened woods and there is no sign of Rex.

Now comes an utterly un-exciting chase, where Darlene falls on occasion. All we see are glimpses of her running through the dark woods followed by a vague shape in pursuit. After what seems like five hours of this (more like a minute or two) she finally arrives at the cabin referenced a few times earlier. There she runs into her sister Joan, who has come out to Satan’s Hollow looking for her and is standing by her car. When Joan sees the monster she screams and both women run toward the cabin, Joan desperately trying to get her keys out and unlock the door.

Did anyone miss the obvious here? Why take refuge in the cabin? Do you really think that huge beast cannot knock down the door? Why not get in the car and floor it? I realize that turning the car around on the road might be necessary and given Ben Whitfield’s earlier performance, it may just be that folks in these parts are not very well versed in the practice of three point turns. Still, ya gotta make the effort. At least throw it in reverse and drive backward. That would still be faster than the monster and would not trap you in a stationary location. Nope, for these two, the car is not an option. These two broads are desperate to get into that cabin, but the door won’t budge. It looks like they are doomed.

Luckily for them someone cast John Agar in this picture. This is a man who takes shit from no one, whether it be Gillmen, invisible aliens, disembodied brains from other planets, pasty subterranean albinos or giant arachnids. He’ll save their asses! As the monster closes in, a car interdicts itself between the cabin and the beast. It’s Sheriff Crawford! Having some brains, he tells the women to get in their car and leave. This they do while he fires his pistol at the monster, which has zero affect on the beast.

Joan and Darlene zoom away in the former’s Mustang, while Crawford, having depleted his meager supply of ammunition, hightails it through the woods away from the monster. Another long chase ensues. At one point, the Sheriff falls, but picks himself up and even retrieves his hat and places it back on his head before running onward. He trips again later, allowing the monster to catch up to him. He tries to fend it off with a broken tree branch, but the monster just bitch slaps him something hard. He rolls down the hill into a ditch. Showing just how tough he is, he picks himself up and runs on…again taking the time to pick up his hat. Those things must be expensive to replace!

Like we totally can't see the camera man's shadow on him.Elsewhere, Chris and Judy have come upon Ben Whitfield’s car. They stop their own vehicle and get out to investigate. They find Ben’s body and are about to flee when a noise from the brush draws their attention. Who should come hauling ass out of the dark woods? None other than Sheriff Crawford. He sees that Ben is dead and quickly jumps in the car with the Chris and Judy, stressing the need to get back to town.

Now we see Crawford at his desk with his arm bandaged, on the phone demanding state troops. He explains to whoever is on the other end that the two troopers sent to patrol Satan’s Hollow were not enough and that some kids slipped past them the previous night, with one getting killed. I guess he is referring to poor old loudmouth Rex. Crawford demands at least twenty troopers and is told that they will arrive within an hour. Crawford then sends Deputy Pat out to meet them. Let’s hope Pat doesn’t stop for coffee. The last time he fed his caffeine addiction, someone died.

Turning his attention to Joan, Crawford asks how Darlene is doing. Joan explains that the poor girl was quiet the whole way home, sitting motionless like a mannequin. This sparks an idea in the Sheriff’s head and he quickly makes a call to Wes at the newspaper, asking him for help. We only hear Wes’ side of the conversation, so we don’t know exactly what Crawford has asked of him.

Professor Clayton now enters the Sheriff’s office and asks to talk to Crawford privately. Joan, Chris and Judy leave to get some coffee so the two men can talk. Clayton admits that he was not entirely honest with the Sheriff earlier when shown the plaster cast, having had a good idea as to what made it. He goes on to explain how he was involved with space research at Cape Kennedy in a project called Operation Noah’s Ark. The purpose of the project was to determine the effects of cosmic radiation on live animals. So they shot up a rocket loaded with forty different kinds of animals to see what would happen. Jeez, did anybody there ever see Monster From Green Hell? That would have told them right off the bat that shooting animals into space is a bad idea.

With the usual expertise shown by such folks, they promptly lost control of the rocket. Then three months later it returned, having spent six months in space. This was the rocket that crashed outside of town a couple nights back. Clayton goes on to mention the horrible mutations that were still alive in the wreckage. However, the rest had been killed and eaten by “something huge.” Please, no Rosie jokes at this juncture. Crawford admits to having run into that “something” earlier in the evening. It has killed four times and he is determined to make sure it does not kill again.

"I'm gonna have to cite you for indecent exposure.""Indecent exposure! Come on, Sheriff. I know her hair style is horrible, but indecent exposure?"The Sheriff calls Chris and the girls back into his office. Since Chris’ dad owns a construction company, he hands Chris a list of things he needs. Chris says he can get them, so leaves to do so, planning to meet Crawford later. Not about to be left behind, Judy runs after him.

Clayton asks if Crawford has a plan. The Sheriff says yes and talks about duck hunting and decoys, promising to explain everything on their way out to some location. He is ready to drop Joan off at her Aunt’s house, but she refuses to be left behind and insists on accompanying them. Crawford relents and agrees.

 

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 

The Sheriff, Clayton and Joan head out to meet Wes and Pat near Satan’s Hollow. Pat tells him that the state troops have the place surrounded and locked tighter than a drum. Nothing is getting in or out. Crawford asks Wes if he was able to get all the things that were needed. Wes says yes, except for one item. He whispers to Crawford and then the Sheriff approaches Joan and explains that they are missing one item and that they need her help.

Later, Chris and Judy arrive with the things Crawford requested. He has Chris place them in Wes’ car. Then he orders Chris and Judy to stay behind in their car. Everyone else moves out.

Some time passes and now we see Crawford, Pat, Clayton, Wes and what seems like a dozen government guys in suits hiding in the woods as if waiting for something. Crawford is sitting next to a blonde figure, which appears to be Joan. Everyone studies the forest, looking and waiting. Eventually, after what seems like an eternity of some fool beating a drum (all that the soundtrack is providing during this sequence), big and hairy comes bumbling along…but who should it attack? Why Chris and Judy sitting quietly in their car. The two narrowly escape and take off running through the woods.

Come up for air, already!The two love birds come hauling ass through the forest, the monster hot on their heels. They race past the Sheriff, who stands his ground and fires at the oncoming beast. Then he turns and runs past the blonde figure, which we still assume to be Joan. He dodges into the woods and as the monster seemingly closes in on Joan, Crawford detonates the explosives that the mannequin made up to look like Joan was concealing. KABOOM. No more monster.

Everyone emerges from hiding, including Joan, who had to sacrifice her Nurse uniform in order to clothe the dummy. Crawford promises to buy her all the uniforms she wants. They kiss. Fade out.


The End.



Review

This is the kind of movie that monster lovers adore, at least in theory. Monster on the loose films hold a special place in my heart and no doubt many others. Alas, this film misses the mark and comes across much more on the boring side rather than thrilling or scary. The first real problem is that it is so damn hard to see the monster. The filmmakers opted for day-for-night photography for EVERY shot and scene occurring at night. One would think that this might make the monster more clearly seen, but the opposite is true. All too often the beast is nothing more than a vague hairy shape. Now, one might argue that they chose this route to hide the flaws in the monster suit and if this is the case, I can understand it. I still just would have liked a clear shot of the creature at least once, even if it nothing more than an ape suit with a skull like head (shades of Ro-Man from Robot Monster).

Another problem this film has is the glacial pacing. Very little happens with the monster until the halfway point and even after that there isn’t a lot with it. This could be more tolerable if the characters were more interesting; after all, it’s them we’re forced to watch for the majority of the running time. However, this group of morons are all annoying as hell, with the sole exception of Sheriff Crawford, as played by the late, great John Agar. The actor was pretty much taking any role at this point in his career, but even so, he instills the Sheriff with a subtle sense of badassery (yes, I made that word up).

There is one aspect to this film that is almost guaranteed to drive the viewer nuts, and while the seriously outdated fashions and hairstyles might seem like an obvious choice, the real culprit is the music. Not the horrid music that the young folks dance to (and don’t get me wrong, that stuff sucks), but rather, the music chosen to accompany what are supposed to be tense and/or scary scenes. At times it’s just a snare drum and cymbal crash. Other times a horn or two blares for a second, but none of it adds to the atmosphere of the scene and just doesn’t fit very well.

Reflecting on this movie, I cannot help but think that it was made about ten years too late. It seems like the idea behind the movie was one that someone had in the mid to late 50’s and they just never got around to making it until 1967. Either that, someone was so enamored of 50’s creature movies that they wanted to make one of their own even though it was now the late 60’s. The entire plot and structure of the film is almost a carbon copy of movies from the previous decade: monster on the loose terrorizes a small rural community before the locals put an end to the threat. If it were not for things such as fashions, hairstyles, music and car models, which make the late 60’s time period glaringly obvious, one could easily think this was another monster flick from the bygone 50’s.

In the end, this film will probably be pretty boring to most folks. Only die hard monster lovers need bother with it, and even then should not expect too much. A good way to kill some time or even help in getting to sleep. It can easily be both.

 

Expect To See:
Dancing - Plenty of this here, as the camera spends far too much time focused on a bunch of college kids partying at the lake. At least put the girls in swimsuits and get them wet!
Forest Hijinks - A significant portion of this film involves people walking, running, stumbling, bumbling and gyrating their way through the woods. Alas, there was no frolicking.
Monsters - One Big Hairy Monster on the prowl, who looks like the idiot cousin to Sasquatch. This one has better hygiene, as no one ever reported a foul stench when it came near.
Nature Run Amok - The monster is the result of cosmic radiation mutating some poor animals. I guess that means this thing started off as a bear or ape and got fused with a gator.
Spaceships - A rocket containing animals exposed to cosmic radiation crashes and releases its mutated cargo. Alas, the rocket is mentioned a billion times but never actually seen.
Violence - Aside from a brief fistfight and the Sheriff getting bitch slapped by the monster, all the violence (the brutal, savage and gory killings) occur off screen. Too bad.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 4
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 13
Cigarettes smoked: 3
Times Clayton has pipe in his mouth: 18
Monster Cam shots: 21
Times Chris kisses Judy: 6
Ineffective Deputies: 2
Fist fights: 1
Total gunshots fired: 11
% of film made of people running/walking through woods: 12.87%

02 Min – Time for your close up!
11 Min – Someone finally remembered to roll the credits.
12 Min – Speeding ambulance looks to be going all of 40 MPH.
20 Min – Sheriff finds wild hogs. There’s a pig joke there somewhere.
25 Min – Kids? That guy is pushing 30!
28 Min – Ugh, dig that ugly wood paneling.
37 Min – Are they dancing or suffering a group seizure?
46 Min – Just what in the hell am I looking at?
54 Min – By all means, don’t forget your purse.
73 Min – KABOOM.


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time the soundtrack is comprised solely of a snare drum and cymbal crash, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

The two finalists in the first
national helmet hair competition.


Looks like Big Bird passed this way.

"Don't be an idiot. Real bears
don't use TP like those cartoon
bears on the TV."

 
"Look punk, don't give me any
crap. I did those Larry Buchanan
films to put food on the table."


"This is the last corporate getaway
that I sign up for...I think I just
got a posion ivy rash."


"Well, you had better have some maple
bars left by the time I get there!"


 
"Damn, there's nothing on the books
that allow for shooting jaywalkers."


 
Justine Bateman?

"Okay, Heironimus...I'm on to you."

"I'm an actor, not a script doctor!
What am I supposed to do with
this mess?"

The woods are literally infested
with G-Men.

Yes, bears shit in the woods, but
after they eat Mexican food,
ya better watch out!

 

Immortal Dialog

Chris starts getting philosophical with Judy.

Chris: "But... but seriously, have you... have you ever thought about... oh, sometimes when I'm alone I think about things that we don't know about... about the sky and the earth and the air and the wind... or even this leaf."

Shadow’s Comment: He may sound like a deep thinker, but all this happens to be is just a new angle at getting a woman in bed.


Chris tries to warn Rex and the others.

Chris: "Now listen Rex..."
Rex: "No, you listen! Nobody invited you and little Miss Sunday School out here. This is our private blast and if you don't dig it, split!"

Shadow’s Comment: Cut me some slack, Jack! Chump don' want no help, chump don't GET da' help! Jive ass dude don't got no brains anyhow! Hmmph!

Professor Clayton and Sheriff Crawford discuss the crashed rocket.

Clayton: "Clint, I can't begin to describe the horror of what we found inside that wreckage. I'll never forget the sight of those horrible mutations."
Crawford: "They were still alive?"

Clayton: "Some of them were. The rest of them had been eaten by something huge."
Crawford: "Yeah. Yeah, I ran into that something earlier this evening. It almost killed me."

Shadow’s Comment: Watch out, Oprah's on the loose!

 

Keep In Mind
  • Fiery objects fallen from the sky are ALWAYS harbingers of doom.
  • In Texas, coroners always wear suits and ties when collecting bodies in the field.
  • Sheriff departments routinely call upon newspaper reporters to help scour a crime scene for clues.
  • The proper procedure for collecting crime scene evidence is to grab it with a bare hand and stuff it in a shirt pocket.
  • Reporters are also entrusted with seeing that important crime scene items are sent to the state crime lab.
  • Officer's hats for your average Sheriff's department are extremely vaulable and should be recovered at all costs if dropped.



This Film & Me

It was some time in the mid to late 1980’s when I first came across this movie. It was a late Saturday night and I was looking for something to watch. I perused the TV guide that came with the local Sunday newspaper and saw a listing for this film. There was no description, just the name and year of the film. Deciding to give it a shot, I turned over to it when the time came for it to start. Within the first couple of minutes a pair of necking youths are attacked by something and this quite naturally got me to keep watching. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the film was a monster movie that I had never heard of until that point. The movie was no classic by any means, but lots of things stuck in my mind from that first viewing. Like so many other such films, I would not see it again until finding it on DVD nearly 20 years later. The movie was about what I remembered, though I had forgotten (or had never really known) that John Agar starred in it.

Shadow's rating: Three Tombstones



The Good

  • John Agar was still The Man
  • Lots of cute girls in tight clothes

The Bad

  • Those hideous old fashions
  • Those hideous old hair styles
  • Too much is said and not shown
  • Too many guys running around the woods in suits

The Ugly

  • Truly cringe worthy music
  • Too much poorly done day-for-night shots
  • Can't see the freakin' monster!

 

 

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