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Friday, April 26, 2019

Monster from Green Hell (1959)




Time to continue the Friday tradition here at Crappy Movie Reviews and hit you guys up with another Fab Fifties movie review. This time around I decided to cover another entry into the giant bug subgenre with Monster from Green Hell. We have already had a giant mantis and giant ants so why not giant wasps?

Things kick off with a matte painting of a rocket base. The action moves inside, and we see science guys doing science stuff. Here that means shooting animals into space so that they can be exposed to cosmic radiation for forty seconds. One of the rockets gets away from them and ends up in the radiation for forty minutes. It crashes into the Congo and the scientists move on. Six months later they hear stories about monsters terrorizing the natives and decide to check it out. That means landing in Africa and walking a long way. A very long way… Eventually they find and destroy giant wasps.

The movie starts off with a bang and I don’t mean a rocket crashing in the jungle. We get some shots of the giant wasp attacking within ten minutes of the movie starting. Then everything comes grinding to a halt. Nothing happens for most of the next forty minutes as our scientists decide that they need to walk halfway across Africa to get to the jungle! We get natives attacking, elephant stampedes, poisoned water holes, and a desert crossing that has them running out of water. What the heck is this doing in my monster movie?

I actually have a good answer to the above question. Reused footage and lots of it. They “borrowed” tons of footage from a movie made twenty years earlier, Stanley and Livingstone, to establish the setting and provide the “action” sequences. They do make an effort to do this as seamlessly as possible, including dressing the lead of this movie, Jim Davis, in a conspicuously absurd costume so the new footage matches. This is why much of the movie feels like a strange adventure flick, because it is one! I do a bone to pick with how they connect the new and old scenes together. It is all done with a voice over as our lead is telling us what happens over the new footage. This is lazy and annoying.

I do like the creature(s)
Things pick up again towards the end when they finally reach their destination, and this again becomes a monster movie. We get giant wasp heads menacing the cast and some fun stop motion tossed in as well. There is even a fight between a wasp and a giant snake, so that is cool. Overall the creature work is decent and would fit right in with most of the “B” movies from the decade in both quality and quantity, though this only counts for the new footage. Because of the middle being a totally different story I didn’t get nearly enough creature fun.

I wished they had cut the reused footage out and found a way to stretch the rest of the story to make it a full-length movie. As it stands currently this feels like a half-realized concept that gets bogged down with the nonsense of an “epic” journey across Africa. This is not what I signed up for when I sat down to watch Monster from Green Hell. I can’t recommend the movie but will say if you love the giant bug genre then one watch is probably okay. Just be prepared with some caffeine to get you thru the middle.



© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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