Director: Arnold Laven
Writer: Pat Fielder
Cast: Tim Holt, Audrey Dalton, Hans Conried, Barbara Darrow, Casey Adams, Harlan Warde, Gordon Jones, Mimi Gibson, Marjorie Stapp, Jody McCrea, and Eileen Harley
Composer: Heinz Roemheld
Release Date: 6/1957
MPAA Rating: G
Following an earthquake in the Salton Sea, giant mollusks begin terrorizing the human population near California’s Imperial Valley. Upon discovering the creatures, Lieutenant Commander John Twillinger (Tim Holt)—now enamored of the recently widowed Gail MacKenzie (Audrey Dalton), secretary of a naval research facility—and Dr. Jess Rogers (Hans Conried) attempt to destroy the monsters before they escape into a local canal system.
The Monster That Challenged the World should be commended for its A-grade performances, semi-realistic science fiction elements, and claustrophobic undertones during the climactic scene. Sci-fi/horror enthusiasts will therefore enjoy this film, slow narrative progression notwithstanding.
Though filmed over sixty years ago, The Monster That Challenged the World maintains an air of plausibility due to its convincing creature effects, which, when coupled with the hideous groaning noises produced by the giant mollusks when injured or provoked, result in a frightening and suspenseful viewing experience. Also effective are the desiccated corpses of each human victim, serving to reinforce the terrible threat facing Lt. Cmdr. Twillinger, Dr. Rogers, and the other main characters—an aspect that heightens the overall tension of the film’s climax, wherein a newly hatched, overgrown mollusk prepares to make a meal out of Gail and her daughter, now trapped in a storage closet.
The Monster That Challenged the World deserves criticism for its languid pacing, copious exposition, and superfluous romantic subplot.
Similar to Them!, Tarantula, and other 1950s giant insect offerings, The Monster That Challenged the World provides a compelling, if not overly detailed, explanation for the existence of its featured monster(s)—a factor that contributes credibility to the premise of gigantic, mutated mollusks wreaking havoc on a local community.
Combining B movie tropes with topnotch production values, The Monster That Challenged the World should appeal to fans of the creature feature genre. Modern audiences may, however, fail to appreciate this film for its dated, albeit still rather terrifying, special effects.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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