Monster of the Day #23

One thing this whole Monster of the Day thing has really brought home: The ’50s was the age of the great monsters, wasn’t it? The ’30s monsters were more iconic, but there were a handful of them. The ’50s the floodgates really opened.

Bonus point for whoever can name the ’80s cult movie that this fellow appeared in on a drive-in movie screen. And remember, Google is for cheaters!

  • Ericb

    Monster That Challenged The World … one of my favorites.

  • Yes, it’s really a nifty little movie. Well worth a look for anyone who hasn’t seen it. Indeed, it’s on a double bill MGM DVD with It! The Terror From Beyond Space. Beat that. (Well, OK, there’s the Them! / Beast from 20,000 Fathoms DVD. Still.)

  • Ericb

    The movie is also of historic interest as it documents a bygone time when the Salton Sea was a big tourist destination.

  • Dr. Whiggs

    Is it some Troma movie? The one whose title I can’t remember?

  • ottobud

    Would that be Motel Hell?

  • Ding, ding! One point to Ottobud.

  • The giant snail from the Salton Sea appeared on Motel Hell? I even own Motel Hell and didn’t pick up on that.

    I always liked this guy – no good reason, since the plot is about as basic as monster movies get. I guess I’m just a sucker for movies in which all that happens is the monster kills people in disjointed scenes until they figure out how to stop him. Kind of the WIZARD OF GORE plot, really.

  • Rock Baker

    ITS THE SIZE OF A DINOSAUR…AND TEN TIMES MORE TERRIFYING! (Or was that “ten times more deadly?”)

    Ah! Another beastie I was first exposed to on TNTs Monstervision back in the fun days! What can I say? Great movie, just love it!

    It can be a little hard to sell the film to someone who hasn’t seen it (or who doesn’t have a built-in love for movies like this), I mean, how do you make someone eager to see a movie about giant snails? They can get how giant spiders/ants/scorpions/etc are scary, but snails don’t inspire a lot of fear in anyone other than six year old girls.

    Giant snails also appear in Doctor Dolittle, the Never Ending Story, an episode of Ultra-Q, and I’m sure one of the many Ultraman (or his knock-off) shows had one. Plus, there’s that big ice snail that the Rocketeer flies into. I never stopped to consider this, but large snails must have some sort of mass appeal.

  • If you show them the image, though, I think it sells itself. Those are some great monsters.

  • Ericb

    The monster is very well designed. Biologically speaking its body plan is more like an annelid worm than a snail but the real selling point is that its face (at least upper part, the brow ridges and the space just below the eyes that looks like a nostril) has the general shape of a human skull. It has both the mindless menace of an invertebrate beasty and the death face of a gothic horror..

  • Rock Baker

    It was a full size mechanical prop too! Those things are rare and never looked this good! (The only other examples I can recall right off are Attack of the Crab Monsters (which was still really cool, but nothing like these), Cat-Women of the Moon (stiff but with more realistic features), Missile to the Moon (also stiff, and sporting comic book/pulp features), and Mesa of Lost Women (stiffist of the bunch and somewhere in between the moon spiders in its features, but always filmed in dark, moody settings so the most disturbing of the three). Not sure if the barely used Tarantula 1955 prop counts. Oh, wait! None of them count! They were all more like puppets! Monster That Challenged the World is more like the mechanical monsters Stan Winston built for Aliens and Jurassic Park.

  • Well, there’s the ants in Them! I guess you might consider them puppets of a sort, but there they mechanized full-sized props as well. I always like actual physical prop monsters because they can directly interact with the actors, as when the one crashes through the window on the ship, or (the same prop) grabs up James Whitmore at the end.

  • Rock Baker

    Good one! I can’t believe I forgot about Them!

  • BeckoningChasm

    I like this monster, but he shares with Belulah the fact that the title of his film is rather exaggerated.

  • The Rev. D.D.

    I also first saw this on Monstervision. Having re-watched it recently, I liked it better this go-round. Part of it was picking up on the death’s-head look to them that someone mentioned above. Man, that was a nice touch. Those are just really superb monster props.

  • Rock Baker

    A few years latter, the Italians would try to build monsters in a similar way. Check out The Medusa Against the Son of Hercules for a full-size mechanical dragon and weirdly tree-like Medusa. See also Hercules and the Princess of Troy (a failed TV pilot, so one of the very few muscle epics that wasn’t shot in widescreen) for a giant crawdad-like water-based inscet that sort of echoes the Monster That Challenged the World.

  • BeckoningChasm

    I assume the “tree-like Medusa” is what they showed, briefly, during the “Sons of Hercules” opening credits. That was pretty startling. I wish I could have seen that, instead of the dire, boring films the box set had (“50 Sci Fi Classics”).

  • Rock Baker

    Yes, that was the Medusa that quickly appears in the opening montage of Land of Darkness. Land of Darkness also had a slightly different version of the ‘Sons of Hercules’ song. Does anyone know if that tune was ever released as a 45?