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Friday, March 22, 2019

The Monolith Monsters (1957)




Proving that in the fifties you could turn anything into a creature feature The Monolith Monsters tells the terrifying story of rocks from outer space. They aren’t like living rock monsters, they are just rocks that grow when you get them wet. Seems silly doesn’t it?

A surveyor finds and brings a strange rock back from the desert where he had stopped to fill the radiator of his car. The next day he is found turned into stone! What could have done such a thing? Well it might be the strange rocks that have multiplied overnight. When a little girl brings one home from a field trip things go poorly for her. They find the house smashed, her parents turned into stone, and she herself is slowly solidifying as well. Oh yeah there are also a lot more of the black rocks that have grown really large and fallen over, thus the smashed buildings.

They eventually figure out that the rock comes from a meteor that crashed in the desert. When it gets wet the rock grows until it gets too tall and falls over only to start it all over again. This allows them to move and take over the terrain. If our heroes don’t stop them in time and they escape from the dry land of the desert the world is doomed! Also, if you touch them while they are active they will pull all the silicone from your body. Which as we all know from our fifty’s science is what gives your body its ability to move and be pliable. Thus, we end up with rock people.

The Monolith Monsters ends up being way better than the concept and story should be. I mean rocks that fall over and keep doing that doesn’t seem all that frightening. Not until you realize that not only would they smash everything in sight, but also would cover the landscape and consume all the water on the planet. To me that is far more intimidating than a few flying saucers or a giant bug and given how we keep screwing up the planet it hits awful close to the sort of environmental disaster we could cause. The fact that the plot takes itself seriously and the cast is committed to playing their roles adds to the realism. I think that it was interesting that unlike many fifties’ horror and science fiction movies we get to see the bodies and more importantly the faces of those who have died. It is subtle but important.   

The movie also boasts some excellent miniature work. You get to see well done model cars and buildings getting smashed by the giant rocks as they grown and fall over and grow again. It not only gives a scale to the towers, but it sells how destructive that they can be. Since we don’t have a traditional monster in this one, they had to bring the menace and horror to screen somehow and when you see a couple of houses wiped out by these things it works. The effect used on the people turned to stone is simple but effective.

Despite the silly premise The Monolith Monsters is one of the better movies that I’ve covered in the Fab Fifties series. This one can be a little hard to track down but I think it is worth the effort. I highly recommend the movie.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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