Monster on the Campus (1958) – Jack Arnold

 

Jack Arnold makes one more appearance in the Sci-Fi Chronicles book, and this time, it takes us to school, with Monster on the Campus (I personally feel they could have dropped the ‘the’, but oh well). This one is, sadly, nowhere near as fun as Creature from the Black Lagoon, or The Incredible Shrinking Man, but feels like a bit of a step up from Revenge of the Creature.

Professor Donald Blake (Arthur Franz) is an evolutionary scientist, and is hard at work on his craft at a local university. He’s also delighted to be getting his hands on a coelacanth, for study. Unfortunately for this fish, it seems it was exposed to gamma rays at some point before its death, and that is going to cause everyone a lot of problems…

It seems the combination of the fish, and the ice/water it’s been transported in, proves a threat, as we first see from the effects it has on a poor dog, who laps up some of the water. The dog becomes vicious, regressing to a more primitive state, in fact, he grows elongated canines, but the effects seem to come and go.

When Blake moves the fish, he accidentally cuts his hand on the teeth, and then makes matters worse when he plunges his hand into the infected water.  And despite being a scientist, he takes him a rather long time to accept the fact that he may be the one responsible for the sudden rash of violent outbreaks around the campus, as well as the death of a nurse, Molly Riordan (Helen Westcott).

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While the police are mystified, they feel they don’t need the help of a scientist, and set about tracking rather large footprints, and bloody, unidentifiable hand prints that appear to be more like paws.

Blake becomes obsessed with discovering what is going on, going so far as to cancel his classes, and ignore his girlfriend, Madeline (Joanna Moore).

With the aid of a student, Jimmy (a quick appearance by Troy Donahue), Blake catches another throwback, a dragonfly, and slowly, ever so slowly, begins to piece together what is going on.

Eventually, he finally is able to put two and two together, and comes to the conclusion that he is the monster roaming the university. He plans to test his theory at a remote cabin with a serum he’s developed…

But while he’s working on that, Madeline is racing to the cabin to see him. Who will survive? Will the police get their monster? And will Blake ever be free of his primitive alter-ego?

I just didn’t like this one as much as his other work, it just lacked a bit of the punch that even Revenge had. Oh well, it’s b-movie 50’s sci-fi fare, I bet it freaked some of the kids out at the Saturday matinees…

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