Monster that Challenged the World, The

Tagged: Film

Film (1957). Gramercy Pictures/United Artists. Produced by Arthur Gardener and Jules V Levy. Directed by Arnold Laven. Written by Pat Fielder from an original story by David Duncan. Cast includes Hans Conried, Audrey Dalton, Mimi Gibson, Tim Holt and Max Showalter (credited as Casey Adams). 83 minutes. Black and white.

Several US Navy sailors are found dead under unusual circumstances in the Salton Sea of California soon after an earthquake has struck the area; some have had all of their bodily fluids removed. Soon, swimmers disappear in the lake and one is found in the same condition: it emerges that the earthquake broke open a chamber in the lake bottom, releasing still-fertile giant prehistoric mollusc eggs. These Monsters are rapidly hatching, so an effort is made to kill them in the Salton Sea. Some, however, escape into the system of canals which lead deeper into California and into the Pacific Ocean, causing further deaths en route. One mollusc egg brought up by divers is preserved in a laboratory vat at low temperature to prevent its hatching, while Commander John "Twill" Twillinger (Holt) and Dr Jess Rogers (Conried) race to track the creatures before they reach the ocean and can breed unchecked Under the Sea. Meanwhile Holt has developed a romantic interest in war widow Gail Mackenzie (Dalton), his new secretary at the base. The molluscs are eventually cornered and destroyed with high explosives. However, the egg at the laboratory becomes a threat after Gail's daughter Sandy (Gibson) slips into the lab and turns up the vat's water temperature high enough for the creature to quickly hatch and threaten both her and Gail. Twillinger arrives in time to destroy this last mollusc by scalding it to death with a ruptured steam line, badly burning his hands in the process.

This Monster Movie is somewhat unusual for the period in that radiation plays no role in creating the monsters, and for such productions is fairly well made. [GSt]

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