Beast from Haunted Cave

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Beast from Haunted Cave
Beastfromhauntedcave.jpg
Directed by Monte Hellman
Produced by Gene Corman
Written by Charles B. Griffith
Starring Michael Forest
Frank Wolff
Music by Alexander Laszlo
Cinematography Andrew M. Costikyan
Edited by Anthony Carras
Production
company
Northern Pictures
Distributed by Filmgroup
Allied Artists Pictures
Release dates
January 1, 1959 (1959-01-01)
Running time
75 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Beast from Haunted Cave is a 1959 horror/heist film directed by Monte Hellman and starring Michael Forest, Frank Wolff and Richard Sinatra. Filmed in South Dakota at the same time as Ski Troop Attack, it tells the story of bank robbers fleeing in the snow who run afoul of a giant spider-like monster that feeds on humans. The film was released as a double feature with The Wasp Woman (1959).

Screenwriter Charles B. Griffith rewrote an earlier screenplay for the film Naked Paradise. A third version of this storyline appeared as the comedy film Creature from the Haunted Sea.[1][2]

Plot[edit]

A group of criminals, led by the ruthless Alexander Ward (Frank Wolff), hatch a plan to steal gold bars from a bank vault in Deadwood, South Dakota. Ward sends one of his henchmen, Marty Jones (Richard Sinatra), to set an explosive in a nearby gold mine; the detonation will act as a diversion for their heist. Although Marty, accompanied by local barmaid Natalie (Linné Ahlstrand), succeeds in setting the explosive, he encounters a beast (Chris Robinson) in the mine. The beast kills Natalie, but Marty escapes with his life.

The next morning, the explosive goes off as planned, and Marty and his gang succeed in stealing gold bars from the vault. They set off to a remote cabin, led by a local guide named Gil Jackson (Forest), where they hope to be picked up by a plane. Gil is initially unaware of their plans, but he becomes suspicious when he hears reports of the robbery on the radio and discovers that they're carrying handguns. They reach the cabin without incident, but once there, a violent snowstorm delays the plane's arrival. Marty's "secretary" Gypsy (Sheila Noonan) is taken by the young Gil and tells him that Marty plans to kill him once the plane arrives. Gil and Gypsy take off back to town together.

Marty, who still carries unpleasant memories of his encounter with the beast, has all the while been concerned about being followed. He encounters the beast again during the trip to the cabin, but his companions think he's losing his mind. Eventually, however, they become convinced of the beast's reality when they see it attack Marty's other henchman, Byron (Wally Campo). Despite their fear of further attacks, the gang is set on tracking down Gil and Gypsy before they reach town, so they head to a nearby cave. Another snowstorm forces Gil and Gypsy to take shelter in the cave as well, which turns out to be the lair of the beast. In the final struggle, the beast kills the remaining gang members, but Marty shoots it with a flare gun before he dies. Gil and Gypsy are left to watch as the monster burns to death.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

"I first met Roger through my wife, Barboura Morris, who had acted in some of his movies. I got him to invest $1,000 in a theater company that we put together. Eventually, we were shut down, and Roger said, 'You should take this as a sign to do something else.' He hired me on the spot to direct Beast from Haunted Cave. [and] He paid me $1,000. We didn't have a contract or anything. Just a handshake. And Roger's handshake was better than most people's contracts".

Monte Hellman about his experience on being hired to direct the film.[3]

In the mid-1950s, film producer and director Roger Corman, along with his brother and fellow producer Gene Corman, hired amateur director Hellman to direct a film from a screenplay by Corman regular Griffith. Both of the Cormans had grown tired of filming in Bronson Canyon and the Los Angeles Arboretum, and wanted to film in new locations in future films. After getting information from the Chamber of Commerce in South Dakota, they decided to film in South Dakota's Black Hills[4][3][5] Scenes in the cave were filmed in an abandoned mine in Deadwood,[6] which the crew was allowed to film in. While shooting scenes in the cave that required the actors to use guns, the sounds reverberating from the fired ammunition would sometimes cause parts of the cave's ceiling to break off, which made some of the cast and crew members nervous while working on location. Other problems arose while filming in the mine, as the air became very stale to the point where the crew had to pump air into the cave; the problem was never completely solved due to improper equipment. Several crew members and cast were also involved in another film, Ski Troop Attack, which was shot in the same location immediately after the completion of filming for Beast from Haunted Cave.[7][4] The film's cast was mostly composed of Corman regulars Wolff, Campo, Forest, Sinatra (cousin to famous actor and singer Frank Sinatra) and Noonan. Ahlstrand, Playboy's Playmate of the Month for July 1958, also played a minor role in the film as Nathalie the barmaid.[4]

The monster in the film was designed and portrayed by actor Robinson, who would later star in General Hospital.[5] According to Robinson, the design of the beast, which he nicknamed "Humphrass", was based on a wingless hangingfly. In order to create the creature's skeletal form, Robinson added aluminum stripping to a plywood base, then covered the frame with chicken wire before wrapping it in sheets and muslin. He then soaked the frame in vinyl paint in order to waterproof the design, since it had to be used in the snow. The creature's head was fashioned out of quarter-inch aluminum wire, which was then encased in steel wire and wrapped in muslin. The creature's fangs and teeth were also constructed with aluminum wire. Robinson then placed putty and patches of crepe hair onto the design before adding spun glass in order to give it a cobwebby appearance.[4]

A sequel for the film was planned, which would have resolved the fate of the surviving characters, but it was soon canceled, resulting in the film's open ending.[6]

Reception[edit]

In a contemporary review, the Monthly Film Bulletin noted that despite being "substantially dissimilar to most monster pieces", the film had "few positive virtues".[8] The review also commented on "uneven acting and direction".[8]

Leonard Maltin awarded the film a mixed 2 out of 4 stars, calling it a remake of Naked Paradise with a monster added in.[9]

Home media[edit]

The film was first released on DVD by Madacy in 2001 as the Killer Creature double feature alongside The Brain That Wouldn't Die. It was released three times during 2002: on January 8, 2002 by BFS Entertainment as part of the Roger Corman's Creature Movies set, by Synapse Video on March 26 in a special extended edition and at the end of that year, in its original version, by Alpha Video.

Alpha Video released the film again on January 29, 2003 as part of the Drive-in Monsters multi-disc set, and again that June in the Classics of Horror Collection.[10]

In 2005, Platinum Disc released the film as part of its Horror Classics collection, in which it was included in volumes 4, 7 and 13. Genius Entertainment released the film that same year as the AMC Monsterfest double feature, alongside another Corman film, Creature from the Haunted Sea.

In 2006, it was released in multi-disc sets by Delta (as part of Roger Corman's Cult Classics), Mill Creek Entertainment (in the Drive-In Movie Classics package) and St. Clair Vision (in Incredible Monsters). Mill Creek again released the film in 2007 as a part of its 24-disc Horror Classics: 100 Movie Pack collection; other multi-disc DVD sets from that year containing the film were Beast Feast (Direct Source) and Scary Value Pack (BFS Entertainment).

BCI released the film on July 29, 2008 as part of Advantage: Monsters Gone Wild. Alpha Video released it again on April 28, 2009 on the Tales from the Tomb collection. Echo Bridge Home Entertainment released the film in 2010 and 2011 in the Horror Cinema: 20 Features and Horror Cinema Collection, Vol. 3 packages. E1 Entertainment released the film in 2011 as a double feature along with Santa Claus Conquers the Martians for its Elvira's Movie Macabre series.

In 2012, Filmchest released the original version of the film, and Pop Flix included it in its Classic Drive-In Collection set. The DVD was issued by Films Around the World on January 1, 2013. and by VFN on July 9, 2015.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Corman, Roger; Jerome, Jim. How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime. Da Capo Press. pp. 70–74. ISBN 0-306-80874-9. 
  2. ^ Ray, Fred Olen (1991). The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers As Distributors. McFarland & Company. p. 40. ISBN 0-89950-628-3. 
  3. ^ a b Nashawaty, Chris (2013). Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses- Roger Corman: King of the B Movie (Illustrated ed.). Abrams, New York: Harry N. Abrams. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-4197-0669-1. 
  4. ^ a b c d Bill Warren; Bill Thomas (16 November 2009). Keep Watching the Skies!: American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties, The 21st Century Edition. McFarland. pp. 85–90. ISBN 978-0-7864-4230-0. 
  5. ^ a b "Beast from Haunted Cave (1959)- Notes". Turner Classic Movies. TCM. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Tom Weaver (1 January 2006). Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers: Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup. McFarland. pp. 99–. ISBN 978-0-7864-2858-8. 
  7. ^ Tom Weaver (16 June 2001). I Was a Monster Movie Maker: Conversations with 22 SF and Horror Filmmakers. McFarland. pp. 48–. ISBN 978-0-7864-6265-0. 
  8. ^ a b "Beast From Haunted Cave". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 27 no. 312. British Film Institute. 1960. p. 50. ISSN 0027-0407. 
  9. ^ Leonard Maltin; Luke Sader; Mike Clark (2008). Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide. Plume. pp. 97–. ISBN 978-0-452-28978-9. 
  10. ^ a b "Beast From Haunted Cave (1960) - Monte Hellman". AllMovie.com. AllMovie. Retrieved 14 March 2016. 

External links[edit]