Another of Columbias higher budget ‘Creature Features’ collaborating with Ray Harryhausen. And I feel that this is arguably one of the strongest outputs of this collborative period.
A simple enough plot involving astronauts returning from a mission to Venus who end up crashing back on Earth in Sicily carrying SERIOUSLY dangerous cargo, an egg containing a beast of enourmous strengh (and size!) The egg is stolen by a local boy who witnessed the crash and is taken to a local anthropologist who begins studying the creature, until it gets too large and aggressive to hold captive leading to an all out battle between the beast and the army!
Clocking in at just over an hour and 20, the script is light on it’s feet, nippy and decently paced out. Tonally it’s campy goodness, and the three acts are evenly spaced out and decently transitions too and from. With some really solid dialogue to boot. This is a damn fine script that has a LOT of action and thrilling dangers. it’s a fun ride thats seldom dull and held me right the way through to end credits.
The direction too is rock solid, theres maybe a slight overealiance on back projection and stock footage for my taste, but for the most part it’s very effective. With MORE than decent cine to back it up, this is a tight and again decently paced edit that uses a great variety of mixed shot types and B-roll to build something truely lovely.
That of course isnt even mentioning Harryhausens work, which here is absolutely phenominal and up there with some of his best efforts in stop motion. The beast creature in particular is astounding for the time with incredibly naturalistic movements AND the fact it engages with on set props. This really is incredible for the age it was made in and STILL astounds me to this day.
The performances are lively, animate and the cast utilise set space well in order to deliver a more than enjoyable time. they only help ampliphy the action of the script and really sell you on the idea that this beast is a real threat. I thought they were fantastic honstly.
Even the scores unique sounding and really adds monsterous weight to proceeding. A LOT of films from this time had fairly stocky scores, but this thing tries something different with the existing formula and I feel it really surpasses expectations.
All in all? If your gonna show someone just HOW GOOD a western creature feature can be? This would be a DAMN fine contender in my opinion for that title. highly recommended.