Friday, 25 July 2014

Beast from Haunted Cave (1959)

This is one of the scores of ultra-cheap movies Roger Corman produced in the 50s and 60s, often two or three at a time.  In this case, it was filmed alongside Ski Troop Attack, which I reviewed about six months ago.  The two films share the same four principal male cast members, though this one also has a fairly significant female role.

The basic plot: a group of criminals pretend to be tourists at an alpine resort, and book a cross-country skiing trip to an isolated cabin with local instructor Gil Jackson.  The crooks plan is to commit a burglary, then ski up to the cabin and ... lay low for a while, I guess.  Exactly what they are going to do isn't ever very clearly explained.

Anyway, the boss crook has a lady friend who is clearly taken with Gil, which causes some tension even before they set out on their journey.  Also causing tension is the wild story of one of the lesser crooks.  You see, this fellow took a local girl out for a date, but came back without her.  He claims some thing grabbed her, when they went for a look around a local mine, and he certainly seems pretty wild-eyed and shaky from whatever happened.  But his story is so preposterous it couldn't possibly be true, right?

Well this is a movie, so of course it could, and after arriving at the cabin, Gil and the crooks find themselves the target of the monster's hunger.  Not that a man-eating creature will stop Gil and Gypsy - the aforementioned lady friend - from their budding romance.  Said romance isn't badly done, actually.  Easily the best part of the film.

At its core, this film has exactly the same script as the later Creature from the Haunted Sea (which I reviewed in November).  Unlike that film's spoof approach however, it plays things as a straight critter-thriller.  If I didn't know before hand that the two films were both re-writes of the same script (originally shot as Naked Paradise), I probably wouldn't have picked up on it.

I'd say overall that this is technically a better film than Creature from the Haunted Sea , which perhaps makes it unfair that I give this a 'not recommended' when the other film got a qualified recommendation ... but the later movie had an irreverant attitude and silliness that allows me to overlook its flaws.  This one drags a little, and the monster - while not as clownish - is still not very scary.

Worth checking out only for afficiandos of ultra-cheap 50s monster films.

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