Friday, 7 February 2014

MOVIE: The Monolith Monsters (1957)

Spanish DVD artwork

The Monolith Monsters

US 1957, 77m, Universal-International

DVD: Universal (Spanish import)

Rocks from a meteor land in the California desert. Seemingly innocuous, they grow to giant size and take on a murderous life of their own when they come into contact with water, terrorising the residents of San Angelo by extracting the silicon from their bodies and turning them to stone...

I know, killer rocks - whatever next? This isn't as daft as it sounds, though and from an age of bug-eyed monsters and insect life-forms writ large, The Monolith Monsters are perhaps one of the most original and effective creatures of the 50's sci-fi/horror cycle. Their method of reproducing is particularly novel: when they grow too large, they simply topple over and smash into multiple tiny creatures, thus starting the cycle all over again.

Director John Sherwood keeps things condensed nicely in the economical running time, and makes very good use of the local landscape, whilst the familiar Universal backlot provides the town location. The cast of contract players (led by Grant Williams of The Incredible Shrinking Man) fill the usual stock character roles and keep the necessary straight faces, but it's the miniature work and model animation that really help the film pull off its potentially hokey premise. The Monolith Monsters is good fun, well executed.

One thought: Innocuous matter turning nasty when it comes into contact with water - one of Joe Dante and Chris Columbus' influences in Gremlins, perhaps?


Original Theatrical Trailer:

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