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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, June 16, 2023

The Unknown Terror (1957)

The movie kicks off with a man exploring a cave. We see a pool of water bubbling and then he sees something horrific as he screams. Roll the credits. After that we learn that his wife and her husband are planning an expedition to find him. He was looking for the cave of death, which doesn’t bode well considering what we just saw. After a musical number… not joking… which is supposed to be a clue to the whereabouts of the cave they head to South America. Along the way we also meet the local native who will guide them, Raoul, as well as another man named Pete. Seems that Pete has a history with Gina (the missing man’s sister) and her husband Dan. One that explains both his crippled leg as well as how he is able to guilt them into being part of the expedition. 

The eventually reach the village and find the cave. Along the way they meet another American, Dr. Ramsey, who is there doing research on the local fungi. Seems he has made some breakthroughs in his research thanks to the local flora and fauna. It is about at this time when the first monster covered in fungus shows up. Yeah, the good doctor is up to no good. The rest of the movie is some spelunking (cave exploration), monster fighting, dynamite explosions, and scuba diving. Then the sun comes up and the credits roll. 

This is another fifties science fiction flick that I haven’t seen before. While it was nice to check it off the list I wasn’t thrilled with what I got. The pacing is very slow with our main characters spending most of the first forty minutes talking about their history with each other. Pete was injured saving Dan you see. Also, Gina was Pete’s girl until after the accident so that is also a bit of a kick in the butt for him. After forty minutes the monsters start to show up and the last half hour is decent, but it takes way too long to get there. Unlike Flight to Mars, we do get a monster in fact a few of them, so I dug that. 

I also feel like there is something missing. Not sure if they rewrote the script along the way or if things were cut for runtime and/or budget. There is a native girl married to Dr. Ramsey that Pete seems sweet on. She reciprocates his feelings, and we get an odd line about how she was also crippled but not anymore. I was sure that something about the experiments healed her and that she would help Pete the same way, but after setting it up they ignore it. The girl also never appears after a point, and it is hinted that Pete and Gina are back together. I found this to be distracting. 

The creatures are decent. We get several infected humans who are covered in fungus and look decent. While the movie never gives us a single line of dialogue to explain what is going on I suppose they look cool so who cares. That said the big monster that infects them is just a bit of foam. Not foam rubber mind you but bubbles and foam like you might see on top of your sink as you do the dishes. This was disappointing and one doesn’t seem to connect to the other. They could have just stuck with the fungus monsters and it would have been fine. 

The Unknown Terror isn’t a horrible movie. It is flawed though, and I’ve seen this kind of story told much better elsewhere. I would say that this one is for completists only and even then it will be a watch once and move on sort of flick. If you want to watch a similar flick, I’d recommend Caltiki, the Immortal Monster. That one is much more fun.

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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