Movie Review: The Black Scorpion (1957)

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The Black Scorpion (1957)
Directed by Edward Ludwig
Starring Richard Denning, Mara Corday, Carlos Rivas, Mario Navarro

1957 really was one of the best year’s when it came to fun sci-fi/horror pictures, with plenty of giant monsters running around causing havoc. And this film is a prime example of that. What would make this giant monster flick even better? How about when it includes stop-animation work from the one and only Willis O’Brien, the one responsible for bringing the original King Kong to life in 1933 (and never even got a screen credit for it!?!?!). So the creature effects in here are everything to make a monster fan out a young kid, or bring back the kid in an old monster fan.

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Richard Denning plays a geologist down in Mexico doing research after a devastating volcano explosion. Probably most famous for his role in The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), he appeared in more than a few of these kind of pictures. While he’s in Mexico, along with fellow scientist, played by Carlos Rivas, they start to hear stories of a demon bull legend that is the cause for some of the attacks and disappearances that have been happening around the area. They meet up with a local rancher who has lost most of her help because of these attacks. The rancher is played by the lovely Mara Corday, who only appeared in two other of these types of features, Tarantula (1955) and The Giant Claw (1957) but definitely made an impact on this viewer! First they try to discover what is doing the damage and then once they do, how do they kill them.

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The film features some close ups of the creatures, which look to be some sort of puppet or model, with plenty of slime and drool coming from their mouths as they roar, scream, or whatever they do to make noise! It seems like the shot is used over and over, but it is a nice effect. For all the battle scenes, stop animation is used and that is a lot of fun. Whether they are attacking a train, chasing down the people that are trying to escape the wreckage, or simply picking off telephone pole workers, it is a lot of great stuff. The ending battle with tanks and helicopters looking like play toys is one sequence you won’t forget and is one of the reasons this is such a entertaining title. Shame that it doesn’t seem to get mentioned in the same league of the other giant monster films. But let’s change that!

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