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
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
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”).
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.
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.