Beast From Haunted Cave (1959)

Beast From Haunted Cave (1959)‘Screaming young girls sucked into a labyrinth of horror by a blood-starved ghoul from Hell.’

A criminal gang pull off a gold heist in a North Dakota ski resort, but the dynamite they use as a diversion in an abandoned mine annoys the strange creature living there.

This is a lifeless, talky snoozefest executive produced by the legendary Roger Corman. It’s pretty typical of his late 1950s output; a small cast, plenty of chat and not a lot of action. For the first hour, the gang just bicker amongst themselves; the actors able to breathe little excitement into cardboard characters and predictable interactions that are well signposted in advance. Also the heist is laughable at best; the resort’s entire population clearing out to go look at the mine, leaving the bank completely unguarded. And just what is a whole lot of gold bars doing in their small bank anyway?

The monster was designed and operated by Chris Robertson, who also takes the role of the bartender at the local tavern. The effects were certainly never going to win any awards, but they are passable, given the small budget. Lead Michael Forest appeared in hundreds of films all around the world and also enjoyed a good career doing voice work for animations. Heroine Sheila Noonan most notably appeared in Jerry Warren’s ‘The Incredible Petrified World’ (1957) and ‘Ski Troop Attack’ (1960), again for Corman. Her participation in the latter film teamed her again with Forest, Frank Wolff, Richard Sinatra and Wally Campo, who all appear here. Coincidence? Not really. In typical cost-conscious Roger Corman fashion, the two films were shot simultaneously!

Beast From Haunted Cave (1959)

‘Do you come here often?’

This was director Monte Hellman’s first picture and, although his subsequent credits aren’t numerous, he’s remembered now for cult ‘road’ picture ‘Two Lane Blacktop’ (1971) with Warren Oates; a film similarly devoid of much action. Later on, he was an executive producer on Tarantino’s ‘Reservoir Dogs’ (1992).

Some of the climactic cave scenes are surprisingly effective but audience patience is likely to have evaporated by then and the film forgotten almost as soon as the final credits have rolled.


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