171. Night of the Blood Beast (1958)
Director: Bernard L. Kowalski
Writer: Martin Varno
From: Sci-Fi Invasion; Pure Terror
An experimental rocket crashes upon its return to Earth, seemingly killing the pilot. However, members of the project find anomalies with the body and strange things start happening back at base.
A classic Corman cheapie, this film doesn’t disappoint. It doesn’t have characters so much as roles. Seriously, none of these people stand out, they just move the plot forward. I mean, the movie features four white guys named John, Dave, Steve, and Dr. Wyman, and Dr. Wyman dies. The only reason John stands out from the other two white guys is he’s a corpse, and even then it gets a bit confusing.
Without characters, the movie is just plot: pilot crashes, is found dead, things seem a bit off at the crash site, and something skitters away when no one’s looking. Back at base, the corpse has a foreign substance in its blood, a magnetic field is blocking the radio and then shorts out all the electrical equipment. Monster emerges, corpse wakes up, is actually harboring alien embryos, and tries to convince people monster isn’t evil. Meet-retreat, meet-retreat, finally settle down to parlay with the monster that can now talk, hideous plan revealed, monster destroyed, humanity saved… for now.
I’ve complained with earlier films that there’s no character, the plot’s obvious, and the final product is incredibly boring. While this also has no character and an obvious plot, it’s fun for being formulaic. It has a few inventions and works well within its constraints. I mean, a big positive of this film is that it’s only 63 minutes long. Sure, it follows all the expected steps, but it does it efficiently and quickly. There’s no bloat here.
You can expect that from a Corman production, though. The Wikipedia article on this movie is interesting in how it details conflicts between the Cormans and the writer that led to a severing of connections between Corman and the WGA. It also describes the cheapness of Corman, including repurposing the monster from Teenage Caveman for this movie. To be fair, it’s a good costume.
I was going to say the movie’s fun and very riffable, and then I saw that it’s episode 0701 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 which makes that point moot. I enjoyed it, though, and recommend it to fans of cheap midnight movies. The movie seemingly is in the public domain so I’ve added an MPEG-2 copy to archive.org here.