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Review by
Kelly Parks

THE BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS (1961)
Columbia Pictures
Rated: Argentina: 13 / Australia: M / Finland: K-14 / Germany: 16 / Norway: 15 / Peru: 14 / Portugal: M/12 / Spain: 13 / Sweden: 15 / UK: 15 / USA: PG-13

Geek check: This movie stars Tor Johnson! If you know who he is or why he's semi-famous, then you are a geek. Don't feel bad. We make more money than the normals.

THE BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS was written and directed by Coleman Francis. This 54 minute "movie" opens with a nude scene, much to my surprise considering it was made in 1961. A cute young girl slips into a pair of giant granny panties just as a maniac walks up and strangles her. The really interesting thing is that this scene has virtually nothing to do with the movie itself.

We cut to a small plane landing at an isolated airport. A narrator (Coleman Francis again) tells us this is the arrival of "respected scientist Joseph Javorsky" (Tor Johnson: BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, THE UNEARTHLY, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, NIGHT OF THE GHOULS) who has just defected from behind the Iron Curtain. His brief case contains pictures from the surface of the moon taken by a secret Soviet lunar expedition.

These pictures are so secret, in fact, that those Commie bastards have a hit squad waiting. Two armed men attack as government agents move Javorsky from the plane to a waiting car. The agents shoot back and a car chase / gunfight ensues. Sounds halfway exciting, doesn't it? It might be if it wasn't for the truly terrible acting. Or maybe the director told them, "Okay, you're being shot at, you're life is in danger and you…don't really care one way or the other. Action!"

The speeding vehicles pass a tiny, hand painted sign that reads "Yucca Flats". A 1961 audience would be more likely than today's crowd to recognize that as the site of a great many atomic tests. You'd think the government could afford a better sign. The car chase ends and Javorsky grabs his brief case and runs off into the sagebrush. And when I say runs, I mean the kind of fast waddle that a sixty-year-old fat man in a hurry manages. He doesn't make it far when, darn the luck, an A-bomb goes off.

Javorsky's pursuers are vaporized but Javorsky himself is transformed into a mindless killing machine. His only desire is to strangle beautiful women, a little known side effect of atomic radiation. That's nowhere near as hard to believe as the scenes where this slowly shambling behemoth manages to "sneak up" on a variety of victims.

The discovery of the Beast's victims brings desert patrolmen Joe (Larry Aten) and Jim (Bing Stafford) into the picture. They hunt for the killer by getting in a plane and shooting at the first random guy they happen to see out in the desert! The narrator makes what are supposed to be "ironic" comments about the shooting and endlessly about "Joseph Javorsky, respected scientist" every time he kills somebody. By the way, the narrator's voice is almost the only voice you hear. This is practically a silent movie with very little dialogue. That makes it more convenient to make fun of the senseless story so it works out.

Several references to this movie on the Internet refer to it as an "anti-commie" film. Wrong. That gives it too much credit. The director was just using the standard, formula bad guys of his era. He wasn't making any statement, political or otherwise.

Finally, in case you failed the geek check, the reason Tor Johnson is well known to my kind is because he was in the widely acknowledged worst movie of all time: PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. For more details see the Tim Burton film ED WOOD, where Tor is played by wrestler George "The Animal" Steele.

Plan 9 was worse but not by much. This movie wasn't just pretty bad. It's Bad Movie Hall of Fame bad. I give it four negative shriek girls.


This review copyright 2004 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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Read a great interview and story about Tor Johnson and this movie at
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