Monday, November 06, 2006

The Dangers of Progress: The Beast of Yucca Flats


If there is one thing you take away from this movie, let it be this:

Progress is bad.

I have reviewed many movies, but never has one been so...patently retarded.

Imagine that the year is 1961. The world is aglow with nuclear tests. The cold war is mighty close to heating up.

What better film to make than a doesn't-make-a-lick-of-sense horror film?

You can't actually understand the power of this film without witnessing it--or perhaps hearing it.

The whole movie has a Rod Sterling mimic reading an incredibly poorly written voice over the whole time.

Seriously, the only thing the guy can come up with are obscure cliches and folky one-liners.

"Once a Russian scientist, now a muderous monster. Another man caught up...in progress."

"Touch a button. Things happen. A scientist becomes a beast."

"Nothing bothers some people. Not even flying saucers."

I wish I had made that last one up.

The whole movie is filled with these inane sayings that never really tie into the story as a whole.

Oh, the story? Well, that's another bag of chips entirely. I shall do my best not to commit hara kiri as I relay the tale.

Tor Johnson (the horrorible beast from every movie in the 60s) is a Russian scientist defecting to the US. He is intercepted by two KGB assassins because he as a briefcase full of secret documents. The agents track him down, kill his guards, and then...inexplicably leave because the 400 lbs man has too much of a headstart to POSSIBLY catch up to.

I'm serious. They walk about fifteen feet from their cars, get fed up, and go back to the Motherland.

Not too worry, because Tor is in for a surprise. He absent mindedly wanders onto an A-Bomb test site. Because...you know...NO ONE would care to guard that sort of thing, or perhaps put up a fence.

Tor is changed forever into the oatmeal faced villain known only as "the beast."

You watch this entire scene happen while Jimmy Sterling tells you about "the turning wheels of progress" and how "progress is dangerous."

Now, on to the meat of this tale.

A woman and her husband are assaulted by the beast and the local law enforcement, Jim and Joe the homicidal deputies, go to investigate. Their motto?

"Shoot first and ask questions later."

Seriously. They say that. And they stick by it, damnit!

The cops find the womans body and drag her about halfway back to their car. Then they get tired and decide "doctors can't help her. Maybe angels. Not doctors." They LEAVE HER BODY ON THE ROCKS and head back to town.

They get in a plane (did I mention both Jim and Joe are paratroopers? No? Well, the movie does about 500 times) and fly over the region, shooting at everything that moves.

You think I'm joking.

A man and his family also find themselves in the area. The boys love to wander (a pasttime I share) and they somehow end up in the middle of the desert. The father, being a good old boy, goes after them in A MISSILE TESTING AREA MARKED CLEARLY WITH A F%)(&^ SIGN.

Since Joe sees that the man is clearly in the area, and since he has that "shoot first" policy, he SHOOTS AT HIM.

Now, I don't know about you, but if someone from a plane was shooting at me, I would seek cover. Or maybe try and signal the pilot. Or DO SOMETHING OTHER THAN RUN IN A STRAIGHT GORRAM LINE!

When Joe finally nails his target (or so we think) the narrator helps clarify the situation:

"A man runs, someone shoots at him."

No pun intended, but things we a lot more black and white back in the 60s.

Today, I can go for a run without the fear of being shot for no apparent reason. Fathers chasing down wayward sons sometimes escape without a round fired.

Basically what I'm saying is: WTF!

Now, the boys are chased by the Beast (who carries a walking stick...not to beat people, just to walk). They hide in his cave, which he apparently doesn't notice even though they often are within several feet of him when he returns.

The beast notices his dead woman is missing. I'm sure if he checked the ravine a few yards away he'd see where Ernie and Gomer left her. Instead of taking it like a leperous-looking man, the beast "unleashes his fury!"

He picks up a medium-sized rock...and throws it at absolutely no one.

What say you, narrator?

"Flag on the moon. How did it get there?"

Um....K.

The father of the two trapped boys returns to his wife after being quite rattled by the friendly-fire. He runs past his wife and jumps into the car. He tells her to wait while he gets help and drives off.

Let's refresh: THE MAN TELLS HIS WIFE TO WAIT IN THE BLISTERING F'ING DESERT SO HE CAN DRIVE THE STATION WAGON BACK TO TOWN, GET A NICE COLD SNAPPLE, AND TALK TO THE SAME A$$HOLES WHO JUST TRIED TO KILL HIM!

Wow, this movie has layers, don't you think?

Jim and Joe decide to take action against the beast, seeing as it is their job.

Narrator, please translate into FUBAR.

"Twenty hours without rest and still no enemy. In the blistering desert heat, Jim and Joe plan their next attack. Find the Beast and kill him. Kill, or be killed. Man's inhumanity to man."

I hate you, Sterling. I really do.

The boys rush from the cave while the beast takes an impromptu nap. He rushes at them, swinging his walking stick with fury. Jim and Joe lay down some suppresing fire while the boys' father flanks from the right with a BAR.

Actually, it's not nearly so interesting. Jim shoots the beast and it's over.

Done.

Nothing left.

Progress.

I scoffed at this movie. Scoffed. I never scoff, and yet here it was my only recourse.

This film was awful in a way I can't explain in words. I felt so unclean and stupid for watching it.

The only thing that kept me going was a healthy dose of "Borat" the next day.

I really can't give this movie a review. Well, actually, I can.

It was like getting hit in the head with a hammer. Repeatedely. And then being served my brain by Tor Johnson.

What say you, oh great narrator?

"Boys from the city. Not yet caught by the whirlwind of Progress. Feed soda pop to the thirsty pigs."

Die already.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I love everything about this.