The Monster That Challenged the World

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The Monster That Challenged the World

Post  BoG on Sat Mar 06, 2010 8:55 pm

This is the one that takes place around the Salton Sea - so it's monsters from the Salton Sea - in CA. The U.S. Navy conducts top secret atomic experiments and then there's an earthquake. Various Navy personnel, such as a parachutist who lands in the sea, begin to disappear. A Naval Intelligence officer (Tim Holt) begins to look into this and soon bodies are found, but the parachutist's body is all dessicated. There's also a mysterious white substance found. Autoposies reveal that the bodies have been drained of all fluids.
It turns out that the earthquake uncovered a long hidden cave and the culprits are these giant mollusks. Divers also find this huge radioactive egg which is taken to the Navy lab. While Tim Holt romances a secretary played by Audrey Dalton, who has a small daughter, he also coordinates efforts to seal up the caves with explosives. Then there's that egg.. the daughter fiddles with the thermostat in the lab because she's worried about some rabbits; this causes the final threat and carnage in the lab for the climax.
When I first watched this many years ago as a kid, I didn't know Tim Holt and wondered why the filmmakers stuck this pudgy guy in as the lead; Holt's career goes back to the early forties and this was late in his work. He kind of grows on me nowadays in this part, lending a more 'real world' ambiance to this than is usual for this fare. This was the first of 4 Grammercy pics, rewritten by secretary-turned-aspiring screenwriter Pat Fielder, who drew inspiration from a 1955 Life Magazine article about ancient shrimp eggs which had been reconstituted, resulting in live shrimp.
This one also had a larger-than-average budget for this kind of monster movie - $250,000 - and it shows; there's a slight polish to the look and quality of the overall picture that's kind of impressive if one is expecting low budget tripe. There's one scene that really stands out, when one of the monsters sneaks up behind a hapless maintenance man; its approach was totally silent - something the audience is unprepared for from such a big, cumbersome creature. BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10
Trivia That Challenged the World: the suspended animation for the shrimp explained in that Life article is called cryptobiosis; this gave rise to brine shrimp, popularly known as 'sea monkeys' - these debuted at the same time as this film and were heavily marketed in comic books in the sixties and early seventies.
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