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

Thursday, August 5, 2010


THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON (1959). Director: Robert Clarke.

Handsome "B" movie actor Robert Clarke both stars in and directed this interesting if highly imperfect monster movie. Dr. Gil McKenna (Clarke) is exposed to radiation, which has the unusual result of making him turn into a lizard-like creature -- somewhere down the evolutionary scale, it is explained -- every time he is hit by direct sunlight. McKenna's drinking problem is exacerbated by his understandable depression over having to be isolated and stay out of the daylight. Eventually it proves too much for him and he goes on a rampage. The Hideous Sun Demon is not always well-paced but there are some great locations for the climactic scenes, as well as notable attempts for some good camera angles. Despite a couple of overwrought moments, Clarke's performance is basically good, and the other actors are low-key and professional. Nan Peterson makes an impression as a buxom nightclub singer who briefly takes up with Gil. John Seeley contributed a very effective score for the film, which helps a lot. The make up is appropriately "hideous" if not entirely convincing, and there are a few unintentionally comical moments. Still, The Hideous Sun Demon holds the attention despite some talky scenes that go on too long. Clarke also appeared in The Man from Planet X, The Incredible Petrified World, and Outrage [possibly his best performance].

Verdict: Hardly a classic, but not completely terrible either. **1/2.

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