Tuesday, 24 February 2015
The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
I've watched some pretty bad films for this blog, but this one (the title of which it sometimes prefixed with "Atomic Monster:") is something special in the badness stakes.
Let's start with the overdubbing of the dialogue. You'll not see a line actually delivered by an actor in this entire film. When a character speaks, it is always from off-screen, or in a shot where we only see them from the neck down, or from so far away we can't make out their face. I can only assume the film-makers lacked both the equipment to record dialogue as it was spoken, and the patience to synch up the post-produced sound with the actors' lips.
Then there's the narrator, who is almost omnipresent, and offers insights such as "Vacation. People go east. West. North and south.". Thanks for clearing up any confusion about that, film.
And then there's the plot. Let's talk about that, shall we?
The movie begins with a young woman drying herself after a shower. She then gets choked to death by an off-screen attacker. This sequence will have no bearing on the rest of the film, and smacks of a desperate attempt to sex things up.
We're then introduced (by narration) to a Russian defector named Javorsky. He's pursued by a pair of KGB agents who engage his bodyguards in a gun battle. Hysterically, when one of the bodyguards runs out of bullets, the KGB guys sportingly allow him to slooooowly reload his weapon and start firing again - all the while standing up in full view - before they finally plug him.
Javorsky escapes the battle but is caught in the blast of an atomic weapons test on Yucca Flats, which turns him into a "monster". Said monster looks a lot like the actor with torn clothes and some bad makeup, but at least it's not a gorilla suit with a diving helmet.
The monster then goes on a killing spree, prompting the local cops to go after him. Stymied in their pursuit by a towering cliff (on Yucca Flats, mind you), they take to the air and occupy themselves with shooting at an innocent passer-by for a while. After all, he's in the general area, so he must be the murderer. Ladies and gentleman: the heroes of this film.
Eventually they work out that they've shot the wrong guy and find the monster, but unfortunately it doesn't kill them. A shame, that. But at least it means the movie ends.