Posts Tagged ‘The Monolith Monsters’

Movie Reviews 453 – The Monolith Monsters (1957)

October 9, 2020

King Kong started the trend and by the 1950s giant monsters were rampant on movie screens everywhere. But once the lion’s share of the zoological checklist had been covered (ants, leeches, spiders, crabs, praying mantis, colossal man, 50 foot woman, apes, serpents, and gila monsters to name a few favourites) movie studios needed something new. Thus was spawned one of the oddest of the jumbo sized objects to terrorize mankind: rocks!

As crazy as the title sounds The Monolith Monsters is actually a fairly good movie when compared to many of its oversized brethren mentioned above.

A geologist working for the Department of Interior in a remote town situated within the Southern California desert comes across a strange looking rock which he brings back to his lab. While confounded as to its classification, he stows it on his bench before retiring for the night. As he sleeps a windstorm causes a flask of water to douse the rock and before our very eyes it slowly begins to grow and form a miniature mounting tower. Come the following morning the geologists his colleague arrives to find the office in shambles and the geologist turned to stone!

The rock, a fragment of a meteorite that recently crashed nearby, has two perilous properties, each with devastating fatal consequences if left unchecked. While handling of the material initiates a process in which body matter solidifies to rocklike material it is the second attribute that is the more terrifying. As water makes the rocks grow into towering structures that crash under their own weight, the broken shards are also propelled which distribute the rocks into an every larger area. Given this growth pattern a rainstorm threatens to have the monoliths, so far contained within a narrow mountain range, break out unimpeded and unleash an unstoppable continental cataclysm (contrary to the suggestion in the film that it would be worldwide).

Between all the scientific jargon among those trying to understand what is going on, Dave Miller (Grant Williams) the head of the office enlists the aid of the local country doctor and the town authorities. The urgency is heightened by a young catatonic girl, the sole survivor who witnessed the destruction of her farm, now showing signs of stiffening like the initial geologist. To spice things up we have the local school teacher (Lola Albright), Dave’s love interest,  who joins in on the race for answers.

As surprising as it sounds, some of the best parts in the film are the ones featuring the rocks. While the special effects used for both the miniature variants showing the growth spurts and the later majestic mountain sized crystalline structures that shoot out of the Earth use obvious filming techniques, they are quite realistic and fun to watch. As is almost always the case in these B movies, a solution will be found in the end (and a huge hint is provided right at the beginning of the film) but the sleuthing process is still fun to watch. Less convincing or credible are the suggestions of people slowly stiffening up as they turn to stone, but the plot does not focus on that so much as to take away from the menace of the spreading. Viewers will also get to see an archaic Iron Lung machine, what was then the height of medical marvels, a device all too prevalent due to the polio outbreak at the time and hopefully something we can avoid despite anti-vaxxers blight ignorance of the past.

An undeniably solid film with a chemical reaction climax, this film rocks!