The Monster of Piedras Blancas

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The Monster of Piedras Blancas

Post  BoG on Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:58 pm

A low budget monster pic which is still not available on DVD - I finally checked out a DVD-R version, which looked like VHS quality. The monster here is often compared to the earlier Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954), maybe because the same FX man worked on the monster costume. The story takes place in a tiny community dominated by a lighthouse. The grumpy lighthouse keeper (John Harmon) is at odds with the rest of the citizens for something that happened in the past. He has a grown daughter who recently returned from college. Her new boyfriend is the local biologist. It turns out that the locals are right to be distrustful of the lighthouse keeper; he's secretly leaving scraps of food for the local monster. For some reason, this monster, which had confined itself to harmlessly prowling the beach area for many years, is escalating to killing locals by ripping their heads off.  

The film is slow overall but does have a few surprisingly effective monster-horror moments. Its other faults are a severe lack of internal logic and unaddressed questions - why does the monster suddenly want to kill everyone? How does it cleanly severe heads (described by the local doc more than once) with its cumbersome claws? How and why does it drain all the blood? Also, the lighthouse keeper helps it and keeps it a secret for years, just because he holds a grudge against the community?  Harmon does give a good performance for such tripe, as does Jeanne Carmen as his daughter. And, actually, all the main actors are pretty good, including Les Tremayne as the doc. The monster..? It may scare the little kids, I'll give it that. It's played by mostly Pete Dunn, who doubles as one of the victims. The climactic action is also pretty good, almost spectacular for such a small film. BoG's Score: 5 out of 10

Monster Trivia: Don Sullivan, who plays the biologist boyfriend, also starred in The Giant Gila Monster that same year.
Star Trek TOS actor alert: Harmon played a bum in the famous episode, The City on the Edge of Forever.
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