Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Giant Insects of the 1950's- 72 Days to Halloween

Them! (1954)  
One of the first and best giant insect movies, "Them!" capitalized on the fears of atomic bombs and the unknown effects of radiation.  "Them!" is a terrifying story that remains one of the best sci-fi thrillers of the era.

Tarantula (1955)  
Jack Arnold directed this giant monster thriller that features a science experiment gone wrong, resulting in mutated creatures. "Tarantula" used camera tricks and forced perspective to make the tarantula appear larger than life instead of fake spiders. Tarantula also features an early appearance by Clint Eastwood in a small role.

Beginning of the End (1957)     
A plague of giant locusts attacks a nearby city when they eat vegetation exposed to radiation. "Beginning of the End" capitalized on the success of giant insect movies but lacked the budget and creativity of "Them!" and "Tarantula." The film is notable for laughably bad special effects and poor writing. 

Monster From Green Hell (1957) 
A rocket carrying wasps intended to test the effects of space radiation crashes in Africa resulting in scientists being sent in to confirm reports of giant wasp attacks on natives. 

The Black Scorpion (1957)  
A volcanic eruption opens up a hidden cave containing giant scorpions that attack victims in a Mexican border town. "The Black Scorpion" made use of stop motion animation and a giant scorpion head for close up scenes. The movie is parodied on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The Deadly Mantis (1957)  
After a volcano erupts and ice caps shift a giant frozen mantis thaw and attacks outposts from the North Pole to the US capital. The Deadly Mantis utilized a giant paper mache mantis with hydraulics to extend its arms.

Earth vs. the Spider (1958)    
A giant spider emerges from a cave and attacks people prompting the Sheriff to use DDT to kill it. The body is dragged into town only to have it awaken during a high school dance. This creature feature would be mocked and ridiculed on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The Fly (1958)     
The death of a scientist leaves his wife as the prime suspect, but her brother-in-law listens to her tale about his brothers work with a matter transporter. An accident fused his body with that of a housefly leaving two creatures with body parts switched. One of the best sci-fi thrillers of the era. The Fly, made use of a great script, decent special effects and excellent casting with Vincent Price standing out in one of his best roles.

The Strange World of Planet X (1958)
Experiments in magnetic fields cause insects and spiders to mutate into giant man-eating monsters. A cautionary tale about fears of technology, "The Strange World of Planet X" would use plot elements of more famous sci-fi films such as "The Day the Earth Stood Still."

Return of the Fly (1959)     
Vincent Price returns in this sequel to the 1958 sci-fi thriller. This time his nephew continues the work of his father but discovers that nefarious parties want the technology for themselves. The movie was an adequate sequel, followed by a third film called "Curse of the Fly" in 1965.

The Wasp Woman (1959)  
A cosmetic company owner agrees to fund research in wasps hoping that the experiments yield a youth serum that she can use on herself to fight off aging. However, the serum turns her into a murderous, wasp creature. The film is noted more for the creative looking poster than its creature effects that are nothing like the movie poster.

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