Upbeat Cynicism

what do you mean i lost my mind?

The Beast of Yucca Flats, 1961

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I missed this one when MST3K took it on, and, watching it flat, I’m really, really sorry I did. It almost riffs itself, and I can only imagine the insane joy that Mike and the Bots took in ripping this one to shreds.

A truly incompetent movie can be a thing of beauty. I’ve long held that the truly intelligent film student can learn more from one bad movie than from several classics. If that contention is true, then The Beast of Yucca Flats is a master class in the filmic art.

Watching it, you cannot help but analyze almost every decision the director made, trying to come up with something better. From casting to sound design to the meandering and barely coherent script (when your movie is 54 minutes long and it meanders, that right there is a Very Bad Sign), there is no aspect of this production that does not immediately invite second-guessing from the audience.

The voiceover is possibly the worst, most nonsensical voiceover in the history of movies. Then it doubles down by getting repetitious, self-important, and “philosophical”. The voiceover alone is comedy gold.

The fact that the film was shot completely MOS ((Without sound. )) and that all dialogue and sound was dubbed in later is strikingly obvious, but at least some effort was made not to emphasize it.

Casting. I could go on and on and on, but I don’t need to. Tor Johnson plays a brilliant Russian scientist (who, granted, becomes the eponymous beast in fairly short order). ‘Nuff said. ((Blessedly, none of the scant dialogue in the film is delivered by Mr. Johnson. ))

The pre-title sequence exists apart from the movie. It has no place in the narrative timeline, and is there for three reasons. First, to show off a not-unattractive lady in a bath towel (who gives a clearly accidental flash of nipple in the first few seconds of the film). Second, to establish the Beast’s MO — strangulation. Third, and most importantly, to pad out the incredibly skimpy running time. But as I said, it cannot be part of the same story. The lady is murdered in a hotel room, and the Beast never gets inside at any point, nor has he any chance to do so, being miles from even the simplest shacks. It’s odd but, since the lady is not unattractive, bearable.

There’s another scene with a lady who only shows up in that scene, and her sole purpose is to lean into the camera and display her (rather impressive) cleavage several times. This serves no narrative purpose whatsoever.

And, and, and. It’s amazing, the sheer mass of incompetence that was crammed into 54 little minutes. This movie seriously jeopardizes Robot Monster‘s claim to the title of Best Bad Movie Ever. Its place in the Bad Movie Hall of Fame is secure for all eternity.

It is, in short, unspeakably awesome. 🙂


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