The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)





Hello all. A first today for MMT, a joint review of this excruciatingly stinky little time-waster. Myself and Head Editor Pam will be doing alternating ten-minute segments, but this is our first attempt at something like this, so cut us some slack. The Beast of Yucca Flats is a legendarily bad movie, consistently on everyone's Top Ten Worst lists, and deservedly so. Still, since it has such high name-recognition amongst the exclusive community of b-movie aficionados, it's high time I gave it a look.

A note on picture quality: While most of the free public domain sites offer only grainy VHS-rips, my DVD copy is a surprisingly crisp and clean digital transfer, considering I bought it online for just $1.39. After I watched it a few times, however, it occurred to me that I probably should have spent that $1.39 on a chicken burrito from Taco Bell.

On to the show (me first)...

Our pre-credits scene gives us a nekkid boob within five seconds (perhaps a new MMT record), as a pixie-looking girl with a Sandy Duncan tomboy haircut stands in front of a mirror and gives us a blink-and-miss Janet Jackson. This is only noteworthy because of my utter surprise at seeing it in what I always thought of as a harmlessly bland little sci-fi film from the golden age of b-movies. In 1961, this girl's nipple would have kept The Beast of Yucca Flats off the majority of "respectable" movie screens (so as not to inflame the sinful urges of our fair nation's impressionable youth) and relegated it to skeevy midnight peepshows and houses of ill repute. Cut out that half-second nipple shot, however, and this would make natural fodder for every drive-in across America. Why the filmmakers would deliberately limit their revenue opportunities in such a severe manner is completely beyond me.


Reflected boobs are the best boobs.

If I may digress, I saw a few things in her bedroom while trying to powerwash the salacious image of her boobs out of my innocent mind. As an oldschool Big Eight football fan I noticed...

1) Stuffed tiger (Mizzou-Rah!).
2) Prairie schooner wagon (Oklahoma Sooners).
3) Empty trashcan (representative of all of Nebraska).


Also, nice shoes.

As she sits on her bed, rubbing her legs for no good reason, she's attacked! She's clearly nearsighted and deaf, because her assailant (we see just glimpses of his torso) just walks right up to her as she sits there in her room, her flight-or-fight reaction apparently in stand-by mode today. After she's dead, she's then (maybe?) raped. The camera shows her attacker lifting her onto the bed, then cuts to her face as the bed seems to be bouncing up and down. All this savage murder and necrophilia-rape damn well better be explained.


Is it over yet?

So, after some opening credits (yawn), we open at an airfield out in the high desert (never explicitly said but we can be sure it's Nevada). An annoying, movie-long Voice-Over starts up almost immediately, pouring out exposition from a leaky pitcher and often spoiling any real sense of suspense and mystery. The voice itself may be the main reason I despise it so, a Dragnet-like droll, monotone flat-line, like some guy reading actuary reports. Anyway, a little Cessna four-seater comes in to land on the dirt airstrip. The helpful Voice-Over tells us that it holds a defected Rooskie atomic scientist named Joseph Javorsky, who's got this nifty briefcase full of Nikita's secrets, which he's supposed to give to our own atomic smartyheads. Really, he's arriving in America on that little plane in the middle of nowhere? I'm quite certain there's a few more steps in between "him standing in Russia" and "him landing unattended in this dinky plane in the middle of bumfuck Nevada".


The plane landing. I ran the FAA registration number (N97434), but it has been scrapped for decades.

Javorsky is played by b-movie legend Tor Johnson, probably best known as the lunkyhead zombie in Plan 9 from Outer Space, but he also showed up in a number of other equally miserable movies. While on the surface a physically imposing man who towers over everyone around him, he's morbidly obese and in every scene seems to be seconds-shy of a massive pork chop-and-baked potato coronary. Most oddly, he has not one single line of intelligible dialogue the entire movie (and "Mmahgaghaha!!!" is not a word), making me wonder if there was some contract issues that didn't get worked out before filming began. This was the last movie Tor ever appeared in before he died in 1971 (I won't say "acted in", because that's not what he does here by any stretch of the imagination).


Javorsky casts a huge shadow.

Pulling up in a rare old Valiant sedan are two criminal-looking dudes in tacky hats and skinny ties. Our Voice-Over notes that they are "ruthless" Rooskie KGB assassins, sent by the dastardly Kremlin to kill Javorsky before he can spill his secrets. Instead of taking a page from Beria's textbooks on sneaky assassinations using poison darts and anthrax spray cans, these two guys just decide to draw iron and start shooting.


He just looks like a Rooskie, doesn't he?

As so we have a wicked gunfight at the airport, with the two godless freedom-hating commie agents versus one redblooded American Fed and a uniformed US Army driver (all that came to meet Javorsky at the airport). The editing here is atrocious, with endless shots of guys aiming and peeking around corners, and what seems like thousands of identical "pwing!" and "ka-pop" sound effects foley'd in. Close observation also notes that all parties involved seem to be using the same prop revolvers (with obvious white grips). It's actually possible that there was only one gun, you never see more than one in any scene. After a few minutes of this, Javorsky gets hustled into a Ford station wagon and off they go.


Get in the wagon!

The "car chase" is a slow, meandering Sunday drive through desert scrub and pinon woods, with the bad guys politely keeping their distance around curves. The Rooskies do take potshots at the car they're tailing, but seem to be aiming at a point several dozen feet above and to the right of the car. Seriously, if these two bumbling, half-blind, gun-shy agents are the best that Mother Russia can come up with, then we spent way too much money during the Cold War trying to defeat them. We should have just parachuted in a box of kittens and a junior high girl's volleyball team, could have had a McDonald's on Red Square by '54.


Lights on for safety!

Halfway through the chase, they run a guy in a Ranchero off the road and the camera lingers on his face for a while. Do we see him ever again? No, but that's not a surprise. This is the type of movie where all the director's friends and relatives show up in bit parts and financiers are repaid with pointless cameos. If I had to guess, this guy probably did the director a big favor and this was what he wanted in return. I have to say, however, that I'd also rather take a ten-second cameo in a movie than little bit of cash, fortune is fleeting but fame endures.


Bradley Cooper? Carlisle Cullen?

Forsaking the perfectly good pavement for a rutted dirt road, they bounce past a sign for "Yucca Flats", which is a real place on the Nevada Nuclear Test Site. The cars stop and everyone piles out and the shooting starts up again in earnest. Frequent cut-aways and dramatic close-ups can't cover up the fact that the two groups of gunmen are maybe fifteen feet from each other. After firing like mad for what seems like hours, the Fed's revolver finally clicks empty. He pulls the trigger once more just to make sure and then looks down dumfounded at the pistol for a second (this is apparently the first time he's ever fired a gun before). The Fed then "gets shot", clutches his stomach, makes an amusing O-face, and falls over politely. The driver is also shot, and carefully lays down on the ground to await his paycheck.


Damn, just aim already.

And because I'm more obsessed with fashion that Christian Siriano, I also noticed that everyone's suit doesn't fit them properly and when they stretch their arms out the cuffs ride up almost to their elbows. I don't know why this bothers me so much but it does. On that, I like how everyone wears suits and ties in the blazing Nevada summer. You just never see guys wearing suits anymore unless they're lawyers or politicians, and almost no one wears fedoras anymore except for ironic hipster wannabes. Myself, I miss the bygone days of dressing up to look sharp, even the regional managers of my own Fortune 500 company show up in Polo shirts and Dockers these days. Disgraceful.


Also note the prison-grade forearm tattoo and the pinky ring on the Fed.

Anyway, Javorsky runs off into desert with his briefcase full of goodies. By "runs", of course, I mean "shambles slowly and laboriously, gingerly dragging his bum leg over the sandy scrub in obvious real agony". He takes off his size 60 suitcoat to beat the heat, though his unkempt, wrinkled, button-straining white dress shirt only makes him look even more like that homeless guy down at the bus station who yells at people. How much did Tor get paid for this gig? His over-worked aorta must have been demanding a raise by then.


Taking a stroll.

Suddenly, ka-blooey! We get two (completely dissimilar) stock footage clips of nuclear test explosions and an echoing thunder-crack leaps out from the soundtrack. So they managed to drive deep into a nuclear test range just minutes before one was about to pop? Really? Those events were extremely well-secured, with perimeter patrols and radar over-flights and all that, specifically to make 110% sure than no one was "downrange" so to speak when the bomb went off. It would be impossible to drive right up under one like that without someone noticing.


They couldn't even match the frame size of the clip, lousy editing work.

But it is what it is and the flash-bang of the nuke torches the two Rooskie agents (it looks like the boom is right on top of them) and catches Javorsky out in the open, fully exposed to all that nasty mutation-causing, soul-searing radiation. We see a close-up of his scarred hand reaching pitifully for the (literally) flaming briefcase. Earlier we heard that it contained info on the secret Rooskie moon landing (in 1961!), which might be the only interesting thing about this movie (though I wonder why he was supposed to hand it over to our "atomic scientists" as it seems like it would something more for our Air Force or NASA to handle). Anyway, as the strontium trickles down from the atmosphere and the mushroom cloud dissipates in the summer wind, I'll turn the review over to Pam.


A nice shot, too bad the stunt hand doesn't look anything at all like Tor Johnson's hand.

Pam here. I ought to say here that I'm watching a public-domain version of the movie at Internet Archive, and unlike Nate's DVD, the quality is abysmal, so it's likely I'll miss out on some details. The next scene opens to a car driving down an empty road in the middle of the desert. The movie quality is so bad you can't tell if it's now night or day, but since the car's headlights are on, I'll assume it's night. Is it the Rooskies searching for their missing scientist? No, it's a couple who stopped their car in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason, and the annoying voiceover tells us they're on vacation, as though it matters. (In fact we never see the Rooskies again, so it appears that Nate was right and the bomb finished them off.) The man gets out and roots around in the trunk while his wife (who is pretty homely, I have to say) sits in the car and smokes a cigarette. The camera dwells on her for longer than is really necessary, leading me to suspect, as Nate said about the guy in the Ranchero, this woman was a friend of somebody important who was connected to the movie.


No woman looks sexy smoking.

I have no idea what kind of car this is (Nate, can you help?) but it's got doors that are hinged in back, which I've always thought were kind of cool. (ed Nate: Actually, that's an extremely rare-for-America-in-1961 Renault 4CV, and he's not looking in the trunk, he's looking at the rear-mounted engine, probably feeding a carrot to the Frenchie hamster in the dinky little 21 horsepower engine to get it to spin the wheel a little faster...)


France's finest, 0-to-60 in 38 seconds, I could run that faster.

The man continues to search through the trunk, and all of a sudden we see hands around the man's neck. Judging from the lack of screaming, this whatever-it-is managed to approach the car and grab the man without either the man or his wife seeing or hearing anything. It's a peaceful death, much easier than you'd expect a strangulation to be: the man closes his eyes and folds up, slowly collapsing to the ground. His wife, mind you, is sitting in the car calmly smoking during this. The trunk lid is up, so she may not be able to see anything, but it's hardly credible she can't hear anything. To be fair, all the voiceover says about them is that they're on vacation, so it's possible they're both completely deaf, which would explain the lack of reaction.


Hope his hotel rooms are refundable.

Is the unknown figure going to be satisfied with killing the man? Is it going to wander off into the desert? Has it not sated its bloodlust, or is it at least exhausted from strangling a full-grown man? No, we see it reaching into the open window and putting its hands around the neck of the woman, who must be blind as well as deaf, as she doesn't even widen her eyes. The term "putting its hands around the neck" is completely accurate, as this being, whatever it is, does nothing as rude as grabbing. It gently eases its hands around the woman's neck and she peacefully falls backward in her seat, in what may be the gentlest murder scene ever filmed. The being opens the door and lifts the woman out, and at this point the voiceover tells us what everybody probably already knows, that this beast who walks like a man is Joseph Javorsky.


Must have had her iPod buds in.

If you were wondering how it happened that the briefcase caught on fire but the human being who was right next to it didn't, I have no explanation, but the "Beast" (Tor is listed in the credits as such, though not as "Javorsky" for some reason) has some nasty scars on his face and hands and his shirt is badly torn, so he didn't escape the atomic bomb unscathed. I also don't know what sort of bodily trauma could produce injuries that scar over so rapidly, but if I keep on being this picky I'll never get to the end of the segment I'm supposed to be reviewing, and watching this dog of a movie is getting more painful by the minute, so onward.


Raahhh!!!

The Beast proceeds to carry the woman away from the road and into the desert, making heavy going of it, which is not surprising considering that he could barely carry his briefcase earlier. In fact, after a few steps away from the car, he has to switch from carrying the woman in his arms to clutching her with one arm and flailing the other to keep his balance. The actress's feet barely clear the ground, and this must have been incredibly uncomfortable for her, but luckily for her the camera cuts away after a few seconds. Or it may actually be a dummy, since it's completely stiff. By the way, since fashionista Nate started pointing out wardrobe oddities, I feel it's appropriate to say here that Javorsky was clearly wearing a long-sleeved dress shirt before the bomb exploded, and now, as the Beast, he's wearing a short-sleeved shirt. The sleeves weren't torn off, either, because a brief closeup showed the short sleeves were neatly hemmed.


Lugging her away from the car.

Back to the male vacationer, who is still lying behind the car. A passing motorist stops, looks through his pockets, and drives off, at first leading me to believe he stole the poor guy's wallet and left the body there, but I'm being unjust. It turns out this guy is trying to find a cop, and he finds one, identified by the narrator as "Joe Dobson -- Desert Patrol," a law-enforcement agency of which I've never heard. Officer Dobson duly heads for the body, where he is, according to the narrator, "caught in the wheels of progress," whatever that's supposed to mean. This narrator is really getting annoying. He sounds something like Rod Serling in The Twilight Zone, but he talks a lot more and doesn't make much sense. Joe Dobson evidently decides this is a little too much for him to handle alone and heads off to find help, as it appears that his car has no radio. Really? Radios in police cars were standard by 1961, and if anybody needs one, it's a cop that patrols alone in the desert. He's not driving a police car, though, so maybe it's his personal vehicle and he was off shift when that guy found him.


Joe, who looks 16-years old here.

The Beast is still staggering through the desert, clutching the woman from the car. Now that I look at her, it's only her legs that are stiff, so it probably was the actress being carried, doing her best to keep her feet from being dragged across the rocky ground. For such a big man, the Beast is having a very hard time carrying this fairly small woman, and it's obvious that, while the radiation left him scarred and seemingly unable to talk (or even close his mouth - it hangs open all the time), it didn't give him super strength. A quick check of the Internet showed that Tor Johnson suffered from a longstanding heart ailment, and he looks in really bad shape here. Some of the stumbling might have been intended to show the beast-like nature of the altered Javorsky, but mostly he looks about ready to collapse at any moment. It just doesn't seem possible that this wreck was able to strangle two healthy adults. Joe Dobson pulls up to a house, and...it's your turn, Nate. I have to rest my eyeballs for awhile.


Not sure who I feel more sorry for.

Ok, I'm back. Indeed, Pam, this movie is a...er, "unique experience" to watch, sort of like having pure concentrated stupidity poured directly into your soul. So Joe abandons the crime scene, leaving the dead man just laying there in the road, and drives out to a house to alert his partner Jim, who apparently doesn't have a telephone either. He's a Desert Patrolman like Joe, a former paratrooper, Korean War veteran, and a man in desperate need of hair care products. More on him later.


Jim.

But this scene isn't about meeting Jim, it's about ogling his hot wife. For reasons that should be clear to any fan of b-movies, this woman spends her entire 25 seconds of screen time bending over and flashing her impressive, Grand Canyon-esque cleavage to the camera in an obvious attempt to channel the mystique of Jayne Mansfield. Considering the nipslip in the opening scene, I was surprised that she kept it all contained (though, her nightgown seems to be violating the laws of material science by not exploding under the sheer weight of her mammoth mammaries).


Boobs!

Anyway, the Beast is still out in the desert, lugging the wife around like a sack of potatoes. He hauls her up to a cave, because all movie monsters tend to gravitate towards caves and grottos and this movie is nothing if not derivative. The Beast lays the girl down on the rocks at the cave entrance (watch as the "unconscious" actress moves around quite a bit to find a comfortable position amongst the scree). He then gets down on all fours, straddles her, and begins some deep heavy sniffing of her face (!?). Does he rape her like he did the girl in the opening scene? That's unclear, but if he did try any funny business, he put her clothes back on afterwards (how polite).


Hmmm...girls don't smell like this back home in Russia.

The Voice-Over tells us that the Beast's exposure to the nuclear blast has driven him to "Kill just to be killing.", which is sufficient motivation, but then why did he bother hauling this chick off into the woods? Why didn't he just kill her on the road and be done with it? Was he exposed to an extra dose of boobatonium, rendering him unable to resist a woman's breasts? While I'm thinking about it, what sort of released radiation would cause Javorsky to become the Beast anyway? Of all the recorded cases of direct exposure to atomic radiation (and there are many), not one person turned into a shambling zombie killer (well, at least that's what the Gub'mint tells the sheeple). And is the filmmaker trying to say that splitting the atom will make men into monsters, that harnessing the power of nuclear fusion will strip away our humanity? Can it really be that simple, just an anti-nuclear protest thinly gauzed in a b-grade monster flick? Maybe so.


And he has a crooked staff!

Anyway, Joe and Jim go out looking in the area of the abandoned car, determined to find either the lost woman or the killer (is the poor husband still collecting buzzards and coyotes in the road?). We see them hiking around in their matching Desert Patrol outfits, their tin badges flashing in the summer sun and their low-slung holsters and cowpoke hats making them look like extras on The Big Valley. For being experienced desert experts and all, it seems pretty dumb for them to be out here without any water bottles, but men were tougher in the '60s.


Hey, looks like Elephant Rocks State Park!

They spy an isolated cave entrance, said to be a "1,000 feet up over a rocky cliffside", and somehow just know that they need to investigate. We see them scaling the dangerous rocky walls, one misstep away from falling to their deaths, which makes us wonder how the Beast, encumbered as he was with a hundred-pound unconscious woman under one arm, managed to do it. Apparently radiation turns you into a mountain goat over rocky slopes but leaves you barely able to stand on level ground (this needs more scientific study, perhaps on all those zombie mutants being kept at Area 51).


Bronson Caverns, anyone?

They quickly find the wife right where the Beast left her on the ground after their unholy carnal union (tsk, men...). Sadly, Joe and Jim's version of emergency medical aid is to walk right up to an unconscious victim and immediately start shaking them around (must have taken classes at the Japanese Kaiju Victims School). Halfway down the mountain, however, she expires, never having woken up and never having actually seen her killer. It's unclear, but they might have just left her body up there in the hills, it's not like we've been seeing any real police work here so far. Ok, that's the end of my second part. Back to Pam for the exciting middle act.


Ouchy, that looks painful.

Thanks, Nate. The next scene opens with a little boy selling newspapers on the street. The headlines announce, "Beast Kills Man and Wife," although at this point there's no way anybody could know it's a "beast" as opposed to an ordinary killer. After all, nobody has seen the Beast and lived to tell the tale, and surely the prints left around their necks would suggest a human being, not anything inhuman.


Uh, it's Middleofnowhere, Nevada, the nearest printing press must be a thousand miles away.

Then we switch to a car driving along an empty desert road for what seems to be about the 200th time in only about 20 minutes. Okay, maybe not quite the 200th time, but we sure do see an awful lot of cars driving on empty desert roads. Oh, wait, this is different -- we actually see some other cars! The occupants of this particular car turn out to be the Radcliffs, parents and two sons, "traveling east" we are told. The car stops for gas, and we see a couple of things that remind us this is 1961, not 2010: it costs $3.00 to fill up the car, and the gas station owner has a coyote chained to a tree! Try that with wildlife today, and the state will be down on you in a heartbeat. I'm not sure why the filmmakers thought we needed to see that, but show it to us they did.


At the gas station (the placement of the actor behind the pole had to have been deliberate, but damned if I know why).

The Radcliffs pull out of the gas station, and without warning we switch to Joe and Jim, climbing back up the mountain. What is happening here? They look exactly the way they did when they were carrying the woman, which is much cleaner than you'd expect them to be after so much mountain climbing, but some time must have elapsed, because they must have taken her body to the local morgue, otherwise how would the newspaper have known she and her husband were killed? But if they're looking for the Beast that killed her, why are they climbing the mountain all alone? Does the Desert Patrol consist of only these two men? It turns out they are wasting their time, though, because as the narrator helpfully informs us, the killer is not on the plateau.


Watch out for that cactus!

They must have heard him, because they head back to their car (and they're still driving the same unmarked car Joe was driving earlier, so maybe the Desert Patrol not only has only two members, it can't even afford official vehicles). They're probably tired of clambering all over the mountain, so they come up with a truly original plan. It seems Jim was once a paratrooper, so they're going to fly an airplane over the plateau and Jim will parachute out and look for the Beast up there. I don't blame them for being tired of mountain climbing, because that's a lot of very rough ground for two men to cover, but do either of them really feel that it's a good idea leaving one man alone to search for a ruthless killer? Jim is certainly brave, I'll give him that. And what makes them think the killer's even still in the area, let alone on top of the plateau? That "blue sense," I guess...


Talking by the car (nice whitewalls).

Oh, goody, another shot of a car driving along a desert road. It's the Radcliffs, and they seem to have a flat. They pull over, and...now we see Joe and Jim pulling up to a single-engine airplane. These abrupt transitions are a little annoying, but at least it's better than seeing another car on a desert road. Jim puts on a parachute, picks up a rifle, and gets into the plane, with Joe telling him, "Shoot first and ask questions later." I'm beginning to wonder if these guys are cops at all. I know the police tended to be rougher on suspects back in 1961 than they're allowed to be today, but were they really allowed to open fire on anybody they thought might have killed someone? Surely not. And Jim still has no way of knowing what the killer looks like, unless his blue sense is exceptionally precise.


By the plane.

Papa Radcliffe, whose name turns out to be Hank, is changing the tire, when Mrs. Radcliffe notices that the two boys are no longer with them. Hank heads out into the desert to look for the boys, and Jim's plane is flying somewhere overhead. Hank is going quite a distance from the road, in fact he seems to be completely out of sight of it, which is so not a good idea in a section of the desert where there are no real landmarks. However, he pushes on, and comes to a barbed-wire fence which he proceeds to climb through. It's only when he's on the other side that he spots a sign reading, "Keep Out. Government Property. Missile Range." I must emphasize that the sign is facing into the area where he is now standing, meaning that the area on the other side of the fence (through which he walked from the road with no sign of a warning, let alone a barricade) must be the missile range. Hank, unlike the filmmakers, has rudimentary reasoning powers, so he realizes he must be out of danger now, at least as far as missiles are concerned, and keeps on walking. Of course this still leaves the threats of heatstroke, dehydration, and snakebites, but Hank ignores these possibilities and keeps on going. His two boys also seem to have made their way to this area, and they are wandering around aimlessly.


I see the DoD is outsourcing their sign painting.

And now, what we knew was going to happen, happens. The Beast shows up. He looks none the worse for the time he's spent in the desert, and he's found a piece of wood to use as a staff, so he's moving a little more easily than he was. Does radiation exposure give you immunity to sunburn? It must, because the Beast started out looking pale, and he's still pale. We cut back to Jim, flying somewhere over the desert, who spots Hank. Now as far as I can tell, the plane is nowhere near a plateau, and we haven't seen any signs of Hank making the steep climb that exhausted Jim and Joe (which is why Jim's in the plane, remember?), and we've still seen no evidence that Jim has any idea what the suspect looks like, but Jim opens a window and commences to shoot. And now, thank God, it's Nate's turn again.


Even with one eye closed, this is still a crappy movie.

Thanks, dear, back now for my last segment. So, Jim is flying around in the plane looking for trouble when he sees Hank walking through the desert searching for his lost kids. Logically, Jim assumes that this man must be a serial killer and not just some random hiker and immediately starts shooting at him with his deer rifle. Since the newspapers have already labeled the killer as a "beast", and Hank looks more like a skinny James Franco in pleated pants than any sort of beast, Jim is taking a risk here that he's not about to create some collateral damage, so to speak.


Aiming out the window.

The strafing scene itself is badly lensed and let down once again by craptastic editing. We mostly just get close-ups of Hank's face and close-ups of Jim pointing his rifle out the little window in the plane's door, overlayed by endless (endless!) foley'd in "ka-pows" and "pwings" and the annoying lawnmower rattle of the Cessna's engine. The views of Jim in the plane were plainly shot while the plane was firmly on the ground, but I'm sure the price of gasoline alone would have busted the film's meager budget if they had actually tried a real air-to-ground attack. This sequence, of course, clearly echoes North by Northwest from a few years before, and was itself echoed many years later in The Spy Who Loved Me.


Run, white boy, run!

All of Jim's shots miss, even though he takes several dozen of them (he must be knee-deep in empty brass by the end). His accuracy was surely affected by the fact that shooting out a window barely a foot wide could maybe give him only a few degrees of firing arc, assuming he doesn't shoot off the propeller or puncture the leading edge of the wing. Hank runs off alive, terrified but pretty ok for just having been strafed by a crazy nutjob in Nevada while on vacation. Jim then parachutes in over the mesa (stock footage, I think), but as he lands we can clearly see in the background are telephone poles, outbuildings, and roads, not exactly the forbidding and impassable terrain that the Voice-Over described, eh? He then begins hunting Hank on foot, though he fails to catch him.


Parachute.

Hey, you know, I think they've lost focus here. Isn't this movie supposed to be about "the Beast of Yucca Flats"? Why are we spending fifteen solid minutes on "the city slicker husband from California lost in Yucca Flats"? The movie's only 54 minutes long, you just don't have time for these sorts of meaningless tangents, seriously. If Hank was actually a deep-cover Rooskie spy, hunting Javorsky out here as a back-up to the first KGB team, then I could understand why he gets so much screen time. Or, if they had made him the husband of the woman the Beast killed, out for revenge himself, that would tie his role into the rest of the movie in an exciting and compelling way. Hey, maybe while all this is going on, the Beast snuck up on the boobie chick in the opening scene?


Hank's agent must have been awesome.

Anyway, Hank makes it back to his wife and their car. He then drives off to get help, leaving the flustered woman alone in the middle of the desert with no supplies and some madman in a plane flying around shooting at people. And she's totally ok with that. Hell yeah! So, I'm cashing in my 401k and buying that time machine I saw on eBay the other day, then I'm going back in time to 1961 and find me some girl to marry, because apparently men back then could get away with damn near anything (Mad Men is historically accurate, after all, who knew?).


Man, my wife would wear my spleen for a hat if I tried this.

Meanwhile, their scrappy little kids are still out wandering around the desert. Notice how the older boy has his official mail-order Junior Wilderness Scout hatchet on his belt, which is just not something you see anymore (and for good reason, I'm not sure I'd trust my eight-year old with a plastic spatula, let alone a hatchet). And as the Beast spies them and begins to advance, with baited breath I will leave it to Pam to take us on to the closing bell.


These brats need a spanking.

Thanks, Nate. Those kids are certainly lacking in basic common sense if they wander so far out in the desert. It's hard to believe kids this age would walk so far through vegetation as thick as we see here, but who knows? Maybe they've inherited their father's lack of sense. Anyway, after far too long a time, it's finally dawned on them that they might be lost. They seem pretty calm about it, though, and just keep on walking. We end up seeing a lot of walking through the desert, the boys walk, their mother walks, and the Beast walks, or more accurately stumbles. Tor Johnson was still having a hard time making his way across the desert, despite the staff he's now carrying. I assume all this walking is meant to build up suspense, but all it does is make the movie drag on more. It continues to amaze me just how long a 54-minute movie can seem. There actually is a tiny bit of suspense here, waiting to see who the Beast comes across first, the boys or their mother. It turns out to be the boys, and they scatter as the Beast approaches. It wasn't very suspenseful after all, as the two boys manage to outrun the lumbering Beast in a few seconds. There is now more walking through the desert by all parties.


Please note:
1) Little kids, tragically "lost" in the "desert".
2) Blacktop highway fifty yards away, seriously!
3) Goddamn house right over fucking there!

Now it seems the boys have made a serious tactical area. They have taken shelter in a cave, and the Beast corners them. By the way, how does he find his prey? Is he able to see faint disturbances in soil and vegetation, or does he smell them, or does he wander around at random until he happens upon someone? I'm betting on the random thing, that's what it looks like. Oh, and when I said "cornered," I meant "he walks away from the entrance, picks up a rock, throws the rock down, and yells." What good is that supposed to do? It looks like the Beast is in fact more like an ambulatory plant who grabs any prey it can reach. He doesn't seem to display any reasoning ability, and he doesn't appear to be able to see very well.


That's going to cost them extra, I'm sure.

Once he has displayed how truly Beastly he is, the Beast slowly moves into the cave, but stops to lie down at the entrance (!!!) I really can't figure out what he's supposed to be doing here, but I fear that the exertion was proving to be too much for the actor, and all he was doing was resting. It looks as though the Beast has decided to settle in for the night right there, and he is doing a good job of blocking the entrance, whether deliberately to keep the boys from escaping or because he thinks it's a nice place for a nap is not clear. The boys try to make a run for it, but the Beast stirs and they go back in the cave.


He just needs a nappy.

Well, guess what. Hank finally made it back with some help, although it appears to be a few local civilians instead of well-armed police officers. But in view of the fact it was the police who were shooting at him earlier, maybe local law enforcement decided to sit this one out in case Hank had caught a glimpse of who was shooting at him. For no apparent reason, the boys choose this time to try again to escape from the cave, and this time they get past the Beast. The Beast tries to chase them, but he moves so slowly it's pathetic. Except that he must have secret teleportational skills, because suddenly he's a few feet from the fleeing boys. Oops, sorry, I maligned the local police unfairly -- it seems they were willing to help out after all, as Joe and Jim appear and, true to form, start shooting at the Beast without so much as a "Halt!" Wouldn't they have been awfully embarrassed if what they thought was a serial killer turned out to be in reality an aging Swedish ex-wrestler? They barely stop to aim, and wouldn't it have been unfortunate if they happened to hit one of the boys who were just a couple of feet away from the Beast? Only they're not, now they're nowhere near. But neither of these unfortunate occurrences happens. The Beast falls, the boys are gone (somewhere safe, let's hope), and the movie is over.


Jim should be saying, "Hey, this guy doesn't look anything like the guy I just tried to murder from my plane. My bad."

No, not quite. The Beast gets up and tries to strangle Jim, but Joe shoots him with his pistol. This time it's really over, and Joe and Jim walk off, just leaving the body there without checking for any signs of life, and are followed by the two boys who have reappeared. Watch as the Beast rolls over to find a more comfortable spot on what must have been very uncomfortable ground. The boys are reunited with their mother, who has been wandering by the side of the road all this time (there's no sign of Hank, who maybe just kept on driving away after he alerted the police).


Jim isn't really trying hard to escape, but he is trying really hard not to mess up Tor's make-up.

Oh, no. It seems the police screwed up again by not making sure the Beast was dead. It appears that there's still some life left in him, because he tries to strangle a cute little bunny that hopped up to him. He's not quite up to the exertion, but he's still twitching as the movie (finally!) ends, leaving open the horrifying possibility of a sequel, as it seems to be standard police procedure in this area to leave corpses where they fall. So if the Beast can manage to recover, we may not have seen the last of him.


The director claimed that the bunny wasn't scripted, but Tor clearly had a carrot in his pocket.

I have to say, this was one awful movie. There was no real suspense or excitement, unless you count wondering if Tor Johnson was going to be able to make it to the end without falling over something or collapsing from overexertion. As has been pointed out by multiple reviewers, nobody actually speaks in this movie, although we do see Dr. Javorsky's lips moving near the beginning. Was this so the actors didn't have to be paid for speaking parts? Or was it because the actors weren't good enough to deliver even simple dialogue? Even the dubbed-in voices seem to have been read by actors who couldn't be bothered to muster any emotion, so everything sounds flat and bland. Most of the actors have no credits other than this movie, and it's easy to see why. I assume the budget was close to zero, but that doesn't explain the incredible stupidity of the plot, which appears to have been thrown together with little or no concern for believability. Watch this movie only if you're curious to see one of the worst movies ever made. Was it ever even shown in a real movie theater? Does anybody know?

The end.

Written in February 2010 by Nathan Decker and Pam Burda.



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