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Friday, July 20, 2018

The Black Scorpion (1957)

Time for a new feature here at the Horror Dude Blog, Friday Fifties. I plan on covering a cool genre flick from the fabulous decade of the Fifties every Friday. That is until I run out of movies that I want to watch. Given how many there are I think that might take a while! Is there a better way to start than a giant bug movie? Hell might as well kick this off with one of my favorites.

An announcer tells us of the devastation of Mexico as it suffers from earthquakes and a volcanic eruptions all while stock footage of disasters play on the screen. Then we are introduced to a couple of scientists that are heading to do some research on the volcano and the geology surrounding it. Along the way they stop at a weird abandoned house and hear noises they can’t explain. They also find a smashed car, a dead body, and a baby! I’ll let you decide which is scarier of the three.

After a detour to a small village to find someone to take the baby they head out to the volcano. There they meet up with a pretty lady rancher who becomes the love interest of one of them. I mean it’s the fifties so there is always a love interest. Not long after giant scorpions attack the cattle and anything else nearby. The scientists and the lady team up with the military to track the nocturnal menace back to their nest to destroy them before they journey out again to kill! After checking out the ecosystem of the cave they blow it up sealing the scorpions below forever… Or maybe not. Okay clearly the bugs get out and go on a rampage. This leads to a big showdown at a soccer stadium in Mexico City where the army, the scientists, and the last of the scorpions duke it out. 

I’ve always loved this movie. While the story doesn’t break any new ground and follows the familiar big bug genre pattern it does so perfectly. The characters are introduced and established quickly. This allows for the action to start right away. It begins with the creepy sequence at the abandoned house where they find the baby all alone, things smashed up, and the body clutching an empty revolver. What was he shooting at and did he hurt it? Who leaves a baby lying around? Something is up, and this is reinforced by the weird sounds that finally chase them away towards town. There is a little bit more character introduction and then the scorpions show up. There is no padding in The Black Scorpion and it is all good stuff from start to finish.

I've always loved the creature effects in this one.
The special effects work might look a bit silly now but for the fifties it is stellar. We get a combination of puppet for when there is a closeup on the “face” of the scorpions mixed in with some stop motion for when they are scurrying around interacting with things. The stop motion includes some really great model work with trains, cars, and buildings all getting involved. I love how this looks on screen. There is even some classic rear projection work done to put our cast in the scene with the monsters. So why is this so amazing? Might be the fact that the legendary Willis O’Brien did the effects work! You know the guy who brought King Kong to life in the thirties?

I love this movie. You should love this movie. If you don’t then you clearly aren’t a fan of creature features. This is a must watch for fans of the classic black and white “B” movies. Do a Google search for The Black Scorpion. It can be found easily and cheaply. Stop reading now and go watch it! Did I mention that I love this movie?

© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

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