Ah, the Giant Monster movie. We can thank our mighty Japanese friend Godzilla for these; if it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have the hundred or so variations that were cranked out by Hollywood in the second half of the 1950’s. Although oversaturation and an increase of television sales (including the then-new color set) helped kill off interest, a couple of scattershot attempts to revive the genre (“Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla” in 1976, for example) thankfully failed. Now we have video to remember the better ones, and “The Monster That Challenged The World” is a forgotten classic that all Giant Monster fans should see.
“…Monster…” features a giant sea snail. Scary, huh? It really shouldn’t work, but somehow it does.
The script is serious, and features some genuine tension, provided you can ignore the paper-maché corpses. Actually, we can forgive these as a plot-point: The giant snail sucks the victim’s body fluids out (as they do in real life), leaving behind an angular, white cadaver. Ok, it really doesn’t work (and probably didn’t fool anyone even in the 1950’s), but the film’s special effects team tries hard. Surprisingly, the snail itself is well done, and there’s very little cheese here. The only thing that would have made it more effective is if they had shown less of it.
The cast is excellent, and the acting is top-notch, particularly Max Showalter as Dr. Johns (appearing here under the pseudonym Casey Adams). Disappointingly, the film plays the “radioactive” card that was popular in many films of the era, but as it’s only casually mentioned and forgotten, this is a minor quibble. Overall, it’s a decent flick, with a taut, believable script, and a killer final 15 minutes. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Pros: Surprisingly tense (and modern) in spots. I recognized a technique used in Kubrik’s “The Shining” here. Also features a good-looking monster…
Cons: …but bad-looking corpses. Additionally, attempts at a romantic sub-plot don’t really work.
Review Rating: 3.5 out of 5 bad little girls who shouldn’t be playing with things they don’t understand.
The Monster That Challenged The World (1957)
83 Minutes; USA
Rated G (re-rated in 1970)
Tim Holt (Lt. Cmdr. John ‘Twill’ Twillinger)
Audrey Dalton (Gail MacKenzie)
Hans Conried (Dr. Jess Rogers)
Barbara Darrow (Jody Simms)
Max Showalter (Dr. Tad Johns (as Casey Adams))
Harlan Warde (Lt. Robert ‘Clem’ Clemens)
Directed by: Arnold Laven
Viewing Format: Premium satellite network
(Originally published on HorrorWatch)