The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959) – Irvin Berwick

I continue my journey through the chapter called Nature’s Revenge in DK Canada’s exceptional Monsters in the Movies book. This time around I’m delivered another seaside monster story, and I settled in hoping for some fun.

Unfortunately, this one doesn’t come near the sheer so bad it’s good flair of The Beach Girls and the Monster, and that disappointed me a little because growing up in the 70s and 80s I rather enjoyed reading Cracked magazine (for some reason I always preferred it over Mad) and they would often use pictures of monsters with funny captions, and the monster from this film, usually holding a severed head, would be used on a regular basis.

Sadly you see more of the creature in the promotional stills for the film than in the actual movie itself, which at just over an hour long still doesn’t have enough plot or character development to keep people involved. And that is unfortunate, as the monster in the film was a bit of an homage to the classic Universal monster, The Creature From the Black Lagoon as Jack Kevan who produced this film helped create the original costume, and oversaw this one.

In a California coastal town, a lighthouse operator, Sturges (John Harmon) has a terrible secret, one that begins to threaten the safety of his teenage daughter, Lucille (Jeanne Carmen – who is not a teenager). It seems he’s been feeding a humanoid sea monster that lives in a nearby cave.

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You know just cause.

After the creature attacks some locals, and then doesn’t get his daily scraps, things go badly for the town, and Sturges’ secret is revealed.

But it takes so long to get to any of that good stuff, and it usually happens off camera. The entire film lacks a sense of fun, which seems to be kind of a must for a monster movie, especially one at that was released at the height of the monster mania era.

To be clear, the creature is pretty damned cool, it’s just too bad that the film didn’t show it off a little more, while respecting the less is more theory of monsters at the same time. It just could have been a lot of fun, and instead, ended up being a bit of a slog to get through.

Oh well, now at least I can say I’ve seen it, and those pics I saw in Cracked magazine are now in a context that I didn’t have when I first came across them. There are still so many more titles to come in DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies, so pick one up and find something monstrous to watch tonight!

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