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

Thursday, March 8, 2012


THE BLACK SCORPION (1957). Director: Edward Ludwig.

"I'll not protect him from the devil just by lighting candles."

If the residents of Mexico didn't have enough problems with a massive earthquake and subsequent lava flow, things get even worse when a crack in the earth unleashes once-dormant prehistoric -- and man-eating -- scorpions of enormous size from a fissure.Willis O'Brien of King Kong fame supervised the special effects, and Pete Peterson did some splendid animation, creating scuttling, fast-moving, fluid horrors like something out of a nightmare. There's a harrowing sequence set in an underground cavern full of giant scorpions and other monsters, as well as an effectively grotesque scene when the scorpions attack a train. The biggest scorpion -- "the granddaddy of them all" -- then kills off all of the smaller ones and rampages through Mexico city for a climax in a bullring. In a movie like this the actors hardly matter, but Richard Denning [Michael Shayne] and Mara Corday [Girls on the Loose] are the nominal stars as, respectively, a geologist and a ranch owner. Carlos Rivas [Dr. Ramos], Pascal Garcia Pena [Dr. de la Cruz], and Mario Navarro [little Juanito] also appeared in The Beast of Hollow Mountain the previous year. NOTE: For more about this and similar films, see Creature Features: Nature Turned Nasty in the Movies.

Verdict: Crude at times but undeniably exciting. ***.


dj Buddy Beaverhausen said...

A childhood fave I've only seen on tv. Still, the stop-motion f/x were impressive and better than most of the "cartoony" digital work on display in today's films.

William said...

Good point. Not all of today's CGI FX turn out that well. There's just something about stop-motion that appeals to me.

-Alan D Hopewell said...

A fave, one I haven't seen in over thirty years. A truly atmospheric, creepy, exciting film.

William said...

It looks great in High definition DVD, too!