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Articles & Reviews by Mike Bogue

Monster From Green Hell - Review

A Review by Mike Bogue

Bogue's Objective Rating:

1½ Stars - Poor

Bogue's Subjective Rating:

2½ Stars - Pretty Good

(Released Dec. 12, 1958, by Distributors Corporation of America (DCA).)

Direction: Kenneth G. Crane

Screenplay: Louis Vittes and Endre Bohen

Music: Albert Glasser

Special Effects: Jack Rabin, Louis DeWitt, Irving Block, Gene Warren, Jess Davison

Producer: Al Zimbalist

Monster From Green Hell Still. There are bad movies, doubly bad movies, and then there are guilty pleasures.  This cheap 1958 SF/horror flick probably can’t be defended on any objective grounds – it’s mostly slipshod throughout, probably because the producer didn’t care.   For one thing, it’s loaded with plenty of stock footage from 1939’s Stanley and Livingston.  For another, it’s more of a ho-hum jungle potboiler than a monster movie.  But so help me, I like it.

The plot, like Sherlock Holmes’ deductions, is elementary.  A rocket containing various animals crashes into Africa, and two American scientists (one of them the late Jim Davis of TV’s Dallas) trek to the mysterious continent to investigate.  There they discover that the wasps aboard the rocket have mutated to gigantic proportions, apparently due to cosmic radiation, but their wings are too small to allow the creatures to fly.

Now with this set-up and the fact that the movie is, shall we say, less than proficient, plenty of wiseacres are apt to quip witticisms such as “I really got stung on this one” (I recall a 1970’s Castle of Frankenstein review noting “Confidentially, it stings”).

Monster From Green Hell Still.

This one receives rotten reviews all over the place.  But actually, I find it fun.  It is poorly directed, and it is terribly padded, but the monsters themselves, though little seen, aren’t bad.  On occasion, they’re even brought to life via stop-motion animation.  There’s a nice scene at the beginning showing natives fleeing as we see a gigantic kaiju-sized wasp appear over the horizon.

On occasion, we get to see groups of the wasps all a-buzz.  In one brief scene, a snake fights a wasp – which turns out to be not much of a contest, a little like pitting Richard Simmons against Hulk Hogan.

The film definitely has that flavor of low-budget black-and-white 1950’s sci-fi flicks, and that’s probably what draws me to it.  I remember how great it was as a kid during the sixties to discover each new sci-fi movie as it aired on TV.  I rarely knew what to expect.  Discovering what each fifties monster flick was about – and there seemed an endless supply of them – was always an unfolding adventure, even if the movie wasn’t any good.  This may explain why today, low-budget monochrome fifties ambience still pushes my nostalgia buttons.

Monster From Green Hell Still.

In the film’s defense, such that it is, certainly the special effects personnel behind Monster from Green Hell were trying their best to put at least a few decent visuals up on the screen.  A few of the scenes are even a tad atmospheric.  And, dare I say it, there are flashes – nanoseconds? – of imagination here and there (mostly there).

Objectively, Monster from Green Hell is twentieth-rate Them!  But subjectively, it hums with the best of the fifties Big Buggers.

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