Looking Back at “Monster from Green Hell”

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Being a huge movie fan, especially sci-fi/horror, I could not resist using my turn writing “The Off Topic” article about a movie that I love:  Monster from Green Hell (MfGH).  Many movies from the 50’s-60’s sci-fi kick are excellent, but this, this extraordinary film (dripping with sarcasm) stands out from all the rest in my mind.  Here’s a quick look at MfGH, incase you haven’t seen it:

“Monster from Green Hell” (1958)

Written by:  Endre Bohem and Louis Vittes

Directed by:  Kenneth G. Crane

Staring:  Jim Davis and Robert E. Griffin

Plot:  The U.S. government is conducting experiments on the effects of exposure to space radiation by sending animals briefly into orbit. Following a malfunction, one of the rockets stays in space longer than planned, and is lost from the scientists’ radar screens. Later, Dr. Brady, one of the rocket scientists, reads a news report about strange happenings in Central Africa. Theorizing that it may be the irradiated test wasp wreaking havoc in the jungle, he organizes an expedition to investigate.

-Plot Summary written by Jean-Marc Rocher

“Monster from Green Hell” is, in my eyes, a classic B-rated horror film.  Although like many other films of the era the story line is based on normal creatures becoming super sized due to radiation, this film stands out from the pack.  What makes “Monster from Green Hell” so wonderful in my eyes is the combination of horrible special effects and the willingness to put the monsters in the spotlight.

PosterIt is to be assumed that the special effects of yesteryear look foolish when viewed next to the sequences in films today, and “Monster from Green Hell” is no exception.  Throughout the film there is a heavy use of stop-action animation, plastic wasp figures, and odd looking editing.  These bad special effects, strangely, are what make this film worth watching.  Nearing the conclusion of the film, they pull out all the stops, using “lava-vision” (lava and erupting volcanoes which look suspiciously similar to stock film from the Discovery Channel) over the top of clips from the movie which had already been used.  Sure, there are also a few fresh shots of the wasps being covered by semi-translucent magma, but for the most part it seems like déjà vu.  Now, while reading this you may be thinking “this doesn’t sound like a great film.”  Trust me; it is worth your time.

Another aspect which made “Monster from Green Hell” stand out from other movies from the same decade is the willingness of the film maker to show the monsters.  I came into the movie expecting what a lot of other films from a similar time had done, not actually showing the terror until a brief peek near the end of the film, if they show it at all.  This film shows the monster for the first time within the first 9 minutes of the movie, and then continues to show them fully throughout the film.  Although the creatures were far from terrifying, my hat goes off to the film maker for having the guts to show the monster in full force.

Over all, this movie is a blast!  MfGH is one that you should definitely watch with friends, but one that people like me can enjoy on a lonely night.  If you are looking for some good laughs and cheesy lines, do not pass this movie over.  Invite some buddies over, make some food, and make your own Mystery Science Theater 3000 comments over the top of it.  You will not be disappointed.

Do the cheesy effects in old movies hurt them, or add to their charm?  Let us know what you think!

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