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What's Happening: Cosmic rays turn wasps into giant wasp-beetles in Africa
Famous For: One of the worst Insect Fear pictures
It's probably useless to criticize a cheap derivative picture that was clearly considered nothing more than a product to everyone involved. For one thing, Bill Warren has already picked out every bad quality (many) and every good one (few). For another, the only reason people watch these things 50 + years later is for camp. With help from Warren, I'll list the bad and good qualities. Then I 'll say a little about camp. Plot, characters, and acting are all substandard. A few typical elements of Insect Fear pictures are present: the discovery of a dead victim , telltale footprints, and scientists working with military men to track the creatures down. But one key element is surprisingly absent: people in peril . The wasps (who are obviously beetles, not wasps) live only in remote Africa in the "Green Hell" territory where even animals refuse to go. So we never feel worried about anything. The heroes know what they're looking for from the beginning. They never even need to find the One Thing that will beat the monsters.
Good qualities include a striking image in the opening scene - a military science lab with a sloping skylight that reveals a picturesque desert beyond - and some decent, if brief, stop-motion animation. The wasp -beetles look good, even slightly scary, and make a shrill buzzing. The most sustained stop-motion sequence takes about 10 seconds, when a constrictor snake attacks one of the insects and is duly dispatched. I also thought the Spanish girl looked cute with her slightly crooked teeth.
Goldweber, David Elroy (2012-06-14). Claws & Saucers: Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Film: A Complete Guide: 1902-1982 (Kindle Locations 50046-50071). David E. Goldweber. Kindle Edition.
Fans seeking camp must be ready for boring stock footage - a lot of it - from Stanley and Livingstone (1939). According to Warren, an elaborate ending was filmed, with a giant cave full of wasps (puppets) getting inundated by steaming lava... but the steam fogged the cameras and ruined all the footage! Eduardo Ciannelli (the Arab guide) starred in Mysterious Doctor Satan. Crane also co-directed the astonishing Manster.
Goldweber, David Elroy (2012-06-14). Claws & Saucers: Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Film: A Complete Guide: 1902-1982 (Kindle Locations 50072-50073). David E. Goldweber. Kindle Edition.
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