Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

THE NAVY VS THE NIGHT MONSTERS

Anthony Eisley and Mamie Van Doren
THE NAVY VS. THE NIGHT MONSTERS (1966). Director: Michael A. Hoey.

A plane carrying scientists and specimens from Antarctica crash lands on an island in the south seas where a Naval base is located. There is nothing inside the plane but the pilot, who is in shock. Lt. Brown (Anthony Eisley) is in conflict with civilian meteorologist Spaulding (the perpetually scowling Edward Faulkner) as the two are both interested in nurse Nora (Mamie Van Doren), while Ensign Chandler (Bobby Van) has a thing for another nurse, Diane (Kaye Elhardt), as CPO Twining (Billy Gray) kibitzes. People begin to disappear and a horribly decomposed corpse is discovered. A scientist named Marie (Pamela Mason) and the base doctor (Phillip Terry), among others, try to figure out what's going on. Apparently some acidic mobile vegetative creature is roaming the island, feeding upon anyone who is luckless enough to get in its path ... Talk about a strange cast: Here is a movie in which we combine a well-known hoofer; the teenage son from Father Knows Best;  James Mason's ex wife, Pamela; Joan Crawford's ex-husband, Terry; the doctor (Russ Bender) from War of the Colossal Beast; Mike Hammer (Biff Elliot as a commander); and the pouty breasts of Mamie Van Doren. Clearly inspired by Day of the Triffids (the poster for Night Monsters looks almost exactly like the one for Triffids) made four years earlier, while also channeling such film as From Hell It Came ( a cursed killer tree) and Voodoo Island (man-eating plants), Night Monsters is watchable and resembles a fifties creature feature. The monstrous trees in this picture remind one of the creature in Womaneater -- who knows? -- it may have been the same prop. The monsters emit eerie noises and the film is undeniably creepy at times. Pamela Mason gets eaten and Billy Gray has his arm torn off in the film's grisliest scene. The movie starts off like a dumb service comedy but quickly picks up. Gerald Zahler's musical score is effective and the acting is mostly competent.

Verdict: Remember to eat your vegetables! **1/2.

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