The Beast of Yucca Flats

Director: Coleman Francis

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Beast of Yucca FlatsStarting with "red scare" content of commie spies at Yucca Flats, an American nuclear test site, we get low budget car chases, low budget shoot-outs, a noisy sountrack, & a narrator to explain what it means, something to do with secret data about Russia's first rocket to the moon.

Viewers too young to remember when Russia's Sputnik satellite & the word "communist" meant instant horror to Americans may have a hard time figuring out what's even supposed to be suspenseful about any of this.

Fat, bald, aging Tor Johnson plays the defecting Russian agent bringing secret documents to the USA. But he gets caught in a nuclear flash at Yucca Flats, the secret documents are burnt up, & Tor is transformed into pretty much the same fat bald guy, but more prone to murder.

Tor wore his own Sunday best in the opening scenes, but wore salvation army rags as the Beast. The rags seem to have used up the bulk of the film's budget.

As the Beast, Tor stumbles about the desert finding very few victims since it's the desert for crying out loud. He huffs & puffs from exersion, because the director made him carry a girl about for a while, as though he were wearing a gorilla suit in a much better but still awful 1930s cheapy.

There's almost no dialogue in this film & when there is, the speakers are shown from behind, from a distance, or speak off camera, as nobody involved knew how to loop dialogue in any manner that might match lip movement. This provides the film's chief charm, seeing how hardcore alcoholic wannabe filmmakers without the least expertise manage to work around their own incompetence to end up with something that could be sent off to the Drive-in circuit no matter how badly done.

Although weighing in at less than an hour's length, The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961) seems interminable. Tor is remembered as a kind of Z-budget icon but this one's so bad that it's hard not to feel sorry for him as an actor. It makes his appearance in Plan Nine from Outer Space (1959) seem upmarket & arty. However, the final image of the mortally wounded Beast petting a young jackrabbit is almost worth fifty-four minutes of one's life.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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