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

Thursday, June 11, 2009

MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS


MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS (1958). Director: Jack Arnold.

Professor: "Don't open the door! It might escape!"

Girl student: "Who cares!?"

The trouble all starts for Professor Donald Blake (Arthur Franz) when he orders a dead coelcanth for his college science lab. The blood of the prehistoric fish has properties that inexplicably turn back the clock on any species that comes into contact with it. A dog becomes an ancient wolf, a dragonfly grows to giant size, and Professor Blake ... ? Well, somebody has to be the monster on the campus and it might as well be him. Franz gives a good -- not great -- performance in the film, but he's certainly better than the wooden Troy Donahue, who's one of his students. Joanna Moore plays Blake's fiancee Madeline, and Helen Westcott is a colleague and his first pitiful victim. Although the pace drags a bit at the end, the film is generally fast-moving and entertaining. Ross Elliot, who appeared in many genre films, is a police sergeant; Whit Bissell plays a doctor. The make-up and the dragonfly are creditable. Some creepy and suspenseful scenes; ably directed by Arnold. It doesn't hurt that the film seems to use the same score as Arnold's Tarantula. Westcott was also in The Invisible Avenger and Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Franz's best performance was in The Sniper.

Verdict: Could have been called The Astounding Fish-Monster! ***

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