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27 August 2013 @ 11:45 pm
Movie Review: The Monolith Monsters  
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The Monolith Monsters
(1957)

Starring: Grant "I'm Freaking Gorgeous" Williams, Lola Albright
DIR: John Sherwood

Blurb (from IMDB): Rocks from a meteor which grow when in contact with water threaten a sleepy Southwestern desert community.


Scene 01: We start off with an Omnipotent Narrator (never good) that talks about the daily threats to Earth contained by meteors wizzing past our globe. We get a quick science lesson about meteor strikes and our atmosphere, and that 2/3d's of our globe is water, protecting us from impacts. Once in a while though, we do get a direct hit on land, leaving craters behind.

And then... he continues talking! We see a meteorite barrel into a southwestern desert and in an explosion, we see bits of rock flying out into the desert evening. We get dramatic statements about its secrets and titles and the all-important 1950's bombastic-horn&drums score.

Credits roll over a glowing, steaming crater.


Scene 02: The following morning, the bits of rock thrown off by the strike are cooling in the morning sun. A bit later we see many of these chunks of black, shiney rock gleaming in the sunlight as a car drives along the desert road.

This is the local district car for the Department of Interior office located in the nearby town. Our car's engine is overheating in the desert sun, and our Interior employee has stopped to put more water in the radiator. Water drips down from the engine, unnoticed.

Our employee puts the water can back, but as he's getting ready to go, he notices the unusual rocks spread about. He takes a sample with him and is on his way. Behind him, where the water had dripped down, one of the rocks begins to steam (with its own dramatic-horn music intruding to make sure we get that rocks smoking is weird).


Scene 03: Our employee drives past a huge, salt lake and up to a salt processing plant (in such a way that we can't help but feel that SALT will be IMPORTANT to the RESOLUTION).


Scene 04: We now skip over to Little Town, USA where everyone lives the very definition of 1950's Precious, Small Town Nostalgic, before nostalgia for Little Town, USA existed.

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Our Interior employee arrives back at the district office. He unloads his rock sample, to breathless suspense music as he gets a glass of water.


Scene 05: Meanwhile, Martin Cochrane, local daily newspaper editor drops in on our geologist. We finally get our first dialog (6 min in, explaining why somebody just HAD to have the narrator inserted) and we learn that our desert driving, rock picking upper, employee is Ben Gilbert.

Martin asks after Dave Miller, as he hasn't been around in a few days. Dave has been out of town on Interior business but is due back the following day. In the meantime, being a small town with little news to worry about, conversation turns to the curiousity piece: The Space Rock.

Exposition about the weirdness of the rock, and the SALT-IMPORTANT-RESOLUTION dried up ocean bed that basically built and keeps the town in the black. Martin whines about how the salty ocean didn't belong in the desert, the weird rock doesn't belong in the desert, and Martin himself doesn't belong in the desert. He's a reporter in a place that doesn't need a newpaper (and yet, we'll see that he has a legion of newsboys so apparently everyone in town subscribes to his empty rag -- SHUT UP, YOU WHINER).

Martin jokes he's been around rocks so long, that he could probably change jobs and be a geologist, too.

Exposition: Nothing new under the sun, close up on rock....


Scene 06: That night, a storm blows through. A window in the lab was left open because there isn't any air conditioning in the office. A clipboard tips over, knocking a flask of distilled water off a shelf where the beaker breaks over the rock.

Ben is awoken by the crash (the office has a cot that he crashed out on). As he's closing the windows, the space rock is smokin'. Ben is returning to bed, when he notices the steaming the rock is doing, and we see that it appears to actually be growing to boot.

Ben, fascinated, walks toward the camera as we get dramatic horn blare and black out. It doesn't look like Ben Gilbert will be staying with us much longer.


Scene 07: The next morning, Dave Miller returns to the Interior district office, brought up short by the fact the door is still locked after startin' time.


Commentary: Dave Miller is played, of course, by Grant Williams -- and I squee. I'm appropriately embarrassed by my fan-i-ness. I love him.


After letting himself in, he calls for Ben a few times, but his attention is on making a phone call. This is to the woman portrayed by the photo on his desk. Her name is Cathy Barrett and she and Dave have a thing.

Cathy is a grade school teacher and she's not available because she's taken her class on a field trip out to the desert.


Scene 08: After hanging up with the school, Dave calls Ben once more before he goes into the lab only to stop short with a look of shock. He finds a corner of the office destroyed and covered in shiny, black rocks.

What's more though, he finds Ben standing in his PJ's completely unresponsive and frozen. Ben's skin is chalky, and when Dave goes to shake him, he pulls back in surprise. Ben Gilbert's as hard as rock and he falls over to the floor with a thump.

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Commentary: The suspense-track is continuing to be intrusive, repetitive and annoying. It will not stop. I hate it.

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Scene 09: As Dave is discovering Ben, Cathy is driving the noisy, obnoxious kids (Look, I just don't like kids, okay. Never have.) out into the desert as part of a science lesson.

One of the munchkins is little, precious Ginny Simpson who Ms. Barrett has taken a particular shine to for her curious mind. While the other kids run around like they've had too much sugar that morning, Ginny is off on her own studying a pair of lizards sunning themselves.

Ginny is also observant and pushy. She asks about the lizards being a couple and uses this to (clumsily) discuss her teacher and Mr. Miller and wonders why they haven't gotten married. Ginny points out that Cathy looks at Dave the way her mom looks at her daddy and they love each other, so it follows that Ginny really likes Mr. Miller, too. Cathy confirms that she does like him a lot with a grin, but then is called away by another student. She leaves Ginny to her exploring.

Ginny's attention is drawn to a chunk of black, shiny rock emitting its suspense-soundtrack. She decides to keep it.


Scene 10: Later, Cathy drives the kids home, passing over a DAM ROAD, past the SALT FLATS, and out into the boonies. She delivers Ginny Simpson to her farm and exchanges pleasantries with her mother before driving off to deliver the rest of the kids.

Mrs. Simpson stops Ginny from bringing the dirty, old rock into the house but tells her to come in and wash up for supper. Ginny wants to keep the rock for a souvenir and uses the wash tub and spigot to soak her rock clean before going into the house to ready for supper.

The rock starts bubbling unseen, but not silently (stupid obnoxious soundtrack).


Scene 11: Cathy has joined Dave and found out about Ben. They're waiting at Dr. E.J. Reynolds' office with Martin and Police Chief Dan Corey.

The doctor soon comes out and reports that he's shipping the body to better facilities and he's never seen anything like Ben's condition. His whole body seems to have been nearly welded into a solid mass, like a runaway scleroderma process came on suddenly.

Martin asks after what he should print, and Chief Corey tells him he can't print anything about Ben yet. At first Martin is insistent that this is news, but Dan points out that he'll have the entire town in a panic over some disease when they don't know what happened, yet.

Martin remembers the last time that he saw Ben, happy over his possibly new rock-type discovery. Dave mentions the condition of the lab, but Dan suggests an explosion of some kind to explain that damage. The doctor nixes this, reporting no signs of any sort of explosion damage on Ben's body.

Dave has been carrying around a small piece of the rock found all over the wreckage, which he now pulls out of his pocket to show the group. Martin reports that it is the same as what Ben had brought in with him. Dave points out that Martin told them that Ben only had one chunk of the stuff, but Dan reports that there is several hundred pounds of the stuff in the damaged lab, now.

Cathy takes the rock from Dave, as she recognizes it as the stone that was in the desert. She remembers that Ginny had taken a large piece of it home [And you'd think that all of the children would have gathered up some of the shiny rock, and that Cathy would have encouraged this so they could incorporate it into a geology lesson at school the following day... but then, maybe I'd just be a more proactive teacher than Cathy].

Dave decides they need to go out to the Simpson place just to check on things, since - though flimsy - the only thing out of the ordinary besides Ben's death is the new rock.


Scene 12: It's fully dark out, so it isn't until they pull up to the house that they see the entire area covered in the black rock and the corner of the house destroyed. Cathy races for the house to find Ginny, while the Chief and Geologist check out the pieces of rock radiating out from the Simpson place.


Scene 13: From the darkness, Ginny wanders out in shock. Dan spots Ginny's parents in the wreckage, but when he and Dave check on them, they find them dead and in the same condition as Ben.

Dave and Cathy take Ginny back to the town, while leaving Chief Corey to secure the scene.


Commentary: They did a pretty nice job with this scene, as they have our actors interact inside the wrecked home, but the whole scene reminds me a little too much of another scene with a precious, little girl in a deep, unresponsive shock -- the Ellinson girl in "Them". Which, while it won't be my next review, will be my next movie review because it's a really good movie.


Scene 14: At the doctor's again, he treats Ginny for shock but does report that Ginny's temperature is subnormal, rather than the fever he'd might find normal. She remains deeply in shock and doesn't respond to the others in the room.


Scene 15: Back at the Interior station, the next morning, Dave gets to work on analyzing a rock fragment for clues as to what it is and if it may have something to do with Ben and the Simpson parents. Martin is hanging around as well, so Dave has somebody to bounce ideas off of. He has found that the rock is nearly all silicates and that he can't figure out how any of it is sticking together in a solid mass. He Geologies to us.

Dave also can't figure out how picking up one piece of rock is turning it into tons of the stuff wherever it is taken, or any clue as to why it would cause anyone nearby to turn to stone.

The phone out in the office rings. This turns out to be Dr. Reynolds.


Scene 16: The doctor is with Ginny, who Cathy is watching over. The doctor reports that Ginny's hand has turned to stone and that whatever the effect is, it's spreading. He wants someone to rush Ginny to Los Angeles at top speed to a specialist at a medical center to try to stop the process before Ginny goes the way of her folks and Ben.

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Scene 17: Dave, Cathy and Ginny rush to L.A. with police escort.


Scene 18: Ginny has been placed in an iron lung, and remains unresponsive. A nurse comes into the room to tell them that Dr. Steve Hendicks is ready to speak to them about what he has found.


Scene 19: It isn't good. The lower half of Ginny's right arm is completely darkened out on the X-Ray film, but of more immediate concern, and the reason Ginny is in the iron lung, is that whatever toxin is causing this traveled up the nerve in Ginny's arm and has paralyzed her chest muscles as the effect spreads.

It sounds rather hopeless as the doctor isn't any more equipped to handle this sort of unknown affect as was Dr. Reynolds. But Dave is able to provide a piece of the meteor rock, which may allow the more advanced labs at California Tech to come up with an answer. He was going to take it to an old geology professor in the morning. The doctor, despite the 0400 hours, insists that Dave wake his professor and run the rock over to him immediately, as things really are that dire for Ginny.


Scene 20: Professor Arthur Flanders is the first to suggest that their rock is a meteorite, but cannot explain as yet why it would multiply or affect human flesh the way it does. The frustration and lack of sleep gets to Dave, and he yells at his old professor over the lack of concrete (Heh! Concrete... 'cause "rock"... heh) answers to what is going on.

Dave's real concern is for Cathy's feelings if Ginny doesn't pull through. The Professor is convinced that the answer lies with the parent meteor, if there is one and wants to go with Dave back to Little Town, USA to help him investigate.

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Cathy arrives soon after the matter is settled. She says that Hendricks is giving Ginny no more than eight hours. Here, Cathy reveals that she thinks of Ginny as a special kid and while Dave and Arthur are returning to town, she's going to stay with Ginny.


Scene 21: Later that morning, Dave and Arthur drop in on the Simpson place where the Chief is still on site. He reports that they've found no sign of an explosion or a short in any wiring in the house, just like in the Interior extension office.

Meanwhile, Professor Flanders is exploring and notes how oddly the sand is discolored in an ill-defined, but definite pattern. He follows the discolored sand, investigating the dirt. Arthur calls Dave's attention to the changes in the sand from where the rocks are sitting to where they're not.


Scene 22: Later at the office lab, Arthur and Dave have been joined by the Chief and Dr. Reynolds. The two geologists have discovered that the discolored sand is missing the silicate content. The Professor theorizes that the rock is multiplying, in part, by absorbing silicate from the environment... even from people by absorbing the trace amount of silicon that is in the human body.

Dr. Reynolds tells them that though the exact reason for silicon in the body isn't known for sure, the current theory is that it is involved in keeping the skin flexible. This gives them a treatment for Dr. Hendricks to at least slow what is happening to Ginny.


Commentary: There is actually silicon in the human body and studies, though not conclusive, indicate that it really might be one of the essential ingredients for our well being. Current studies point to silicon being invaluable to proper bone health... it's not just about the calcium.


Scene 23: While Dr. Reynolds is contacting Hendricks to share what they've found so far, Dave and the Professor return to the desert to look for the impact crater, and hopefully find the original meteorite.

They do find the original rock, but it doesn't look any different than the fragments freely available every where they turn.

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Scene 24: Back in L.A., Hendricks confirms with Cathy that the report from Reynolds confirms their autopsy findings that Ben's body was completely drained of its silicon content.

He begins giving Ginny injections of liquid silicon to try to arrest her solidifying.


Scene 25: That night, Dave is dejected and Arthur is puzzled. They've been exposing the rock to electricity, heat, chemical catalysts and so far it hasn't responded in any way except as any ordinary rock might.

Professor Flanders is sure that it must be something simple, as whatever caused the explosive spread must be present both at the office's simple lab and at the Simpson farm. Dave wonders if it was caused by being handled, as nothing seems to be happening to the rocks out in the desert, only to the fragments that have been handled. But Arthur points out Miller's handling of it repeatedly with no reactions.

Dave wonders aloud what Ginny could do to a rock at home that Ben would also do to it in the laboratory.

Above them, thunder sounds as a storm moves in.


Commentary: The only thing I really regret about this story is that we know its water, and that makes all of the lab experimenting/conversation slow going as we wait for our characters to catch up with us. It definitely causes some lost points, but I really like this movie simply for the unusual threat. It's a monster movie, but it doesn't really have a monster in it... just a hunk of rock with unusual properties. It's a really neat idea and I like, with the above caveat, the way the script handles the menace and the characters.

I really wished that the script had been revised a few more times to have Ginny found without knowing what had happened at the farm, and that Ben had been killed without our seeing the water get dumped onto the rock.

It would have helped the pacing if we weren't so far ahead of our characters.



Scene 26: Out in the desert, the storm intensifies and the rain pours from the skies, and all over the rocks.

They steam and bubble and, presumably, start absorbing silicates from the sand around them.


Scene 27: Back in the lab, the coffee over the Bunsen burner is low and bubbling itself. A few things conspire to clue our Professor and Dave in. The Professor, in a bit of pique, smashes his hammer onto the rock hard enough to send a splinter off into the sink. He apologizes to Miller over letting his frustration get to him, and Dave puts the blame on his strong coffee. He tells the Professor that he'll start a fresh pot.

The Professor doesn't bother to reach into the sink to retrieve the splinter he broke off. Dave dumps the old coffee into the sink, and goes to fill up the pot with fresh [And he scares the crap outta me by putting water directly from the tap into the very hot coffee pot. I'm surprised the pot didn't explode into shards].

This allows him to see the Professor's broken rock shard start to grow in the sink.


Commentary: And, I also want to relay a kudo to the special effects for the way they show the rocks growing. It's a neat effect. BUT, I'm really sick of the action-suspense musical cues for this movie. When they were revising the script, they also needed to think twice about their score.


The rock grows in a crystal-tower configuration, until it becomes top heavy and falls over. Upon connecting with the lab sink, it shatters, explaining why there are so many smaller bits of shard and why the area of effect continues to radiate outward from one, single rock.

[Because they're dense] it still takes them several dramatic moments to put the pieces together, but they realize that water is the catalyst for starting the absorption/growth process... and they have that cloudburst going on outside...!


Scene 28: Dave and the Professor rush out into the storm to drive up to the meteorite's location. Arthur makes Dave stop the car and turn off the engine as they both hear the rumbling sound coming from ahead of them. When they step out of the car, they watch as towers of rock grow to giant proportions. One of these crashes down into giant boulders where they would've been only a minute later.

Each shard begins to steam and grow, also, and Dave realizes that the natural slope will carry the rocks' path straight down and through San Angelo, destroying Little Town, USA. They race back.


Scene 29: In town, they inform the police chief that the whole town will need to be evacuated. But worse, Arthur follows the logical train of thought to what will happen when they multiply and advance enough to break out of the natural canyon walls surrounding Little Town. As long as the rain continues, they'll not stop growing, shattering, and re-growing.

They contact their area weather service and get the basics that the rain will stop that morning, but two days-ish later, they'll have more.


Commentary: This is supposed to be comedy. It's actually just time-wasting.


Scene 30: Chief Corey contacts night operator Ethel. He orders her to call everyone in town, which she complains about until he tells her the message that she needs to pass on. She's taken by shock, but tells him she'll get on it right away.


Scene 31: Back in the hospital, Ginny is able to move her hand and starts to come around. It looks like precious, little Ginny will be saved.


Scene 32: Back in Little Town, USA, anonymous family deals with the emergency broadcast that they may need to evacuate the town. As they putter about, the radio and television go out. Housewife realizes that the electricity has crashed and when she tries the phone, it's out as well.

She and husband share an [awkwardly long] look of fright.


Scene 33: At the hospital, Dr. Hendricks has been summoned to check on Ginny. He confirms that her breathing has returned to normal and she can be removed from the iron lung.

Cathy tries to call Dave, but finds that all lines to San Angelo are down. She's frantic that something has gone wrong there. Hendricks offers a solution, and calls in to the Los Angeles police.


Scene 34: The county sends a patrol car to San Angelo to deliver a message to Dave Miller at the Department of Interior. The squad car puts in at Dave's office, which draws everyone's attention.

The point of all this is to use the police radio as a relay between Dave and Hendricks. The doctor informs Dave that Ginny is out of the woods with the silicon treatment. This leads Dave to the conclusion that there must be something in the treatment ingredients that retarded the rock's ability to absorb the silicon.

Hendricks says that sounds logical and reads off a list of elements he gave to Ginny while treating her. He then has the phone taken by Cathy, who just must speak to Dave. But she's preempted by a truck racing into the downtown and he goes off to check it out.


Scene 35: This turns out to be a local rancher who has come to report that the rocks crashed through his farm.

The livestock are all dead, along with the family pet. From the cab, the Mrs. starts screeching, and when everyone rushes to her side, she's staring at her hardening hand. Chief goes off for Dr. Reynolds.

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Scene 36: Doctor Reynolds consults with Doctor Hendricks who gives him the treatment he used on Ginny. In the meantime, he'll also be on his way with a portable iron lung unit to keep Mrs. Henderson alive until the treatment takes effect. He guesses at this early stage, she'll have four hours or so before she needs it.


Scene 37: In the waiting room, Rancher and the kids are waiting for news about what the doctor will do to save Mrs., who is lying on the sofa. Rancher is worried about the amount of time it'll take, as he doesn't feel safe in staying in town with the rocks on their way.

Dave tries to point out they'll be safe for two days until the next rainstorm, but Rancher tells him that the rocks that overran his farm were growing and crashing just fine even though the rain had stopped a good half hour before their arrival.

This news is an unpleasant surprise for Dave, Arthur and Chief Dan as they had assumed that once the rain stopped, the rocks had stopped growing. Dave takes off to go check the situation at the Henderson farm. Arthur goes with him to be dropped off at the lab to start preparing the formula for the doctor and for any possible new cases that may arrive in the meantime.

Meanwhile, Chief is spazzing out over how they'll inform 1500 people that they don't have as much time as they thought and should get packing for running. Martin offers to print up a warning flyer and have it delivered with his army of paperboys.


Commentary: And you can just see that 'Useless Newspaper Man Learns He's Valued' coming from a mile away, and I just wanna barf.


Scene 38: Outside, Martin calls over paper boy Bobby. Martin wants Bobby to grab every kid with a bike and meet back at there in half an hour. Bobby says that most of the guys he knows won't do it unless they know first how much they'll get paid. Police Chief steps in to order the brats to do as they're told or else.

Chief whines about greedy kids. Editor whines that all of his paying customers are about to leave town.

Deputy arrives to summon Chief for urgent business.


Scene 39: The urgent business is a woman in a truck who has arrived in town. She doesn't get to say anything, as she passed out upon arrival. Police Chief orders the deputies to carry her over to the doc's immediately.

As they do so, he notices a lump in the truck bed and pulls away a blanket to reveal... a dead husband.

Police Chief decides that they need to power up a radio and inform the Governor of their coming disaster.

Meanwhile, neither bother to tell the entire crowd of bystanders to start evacuating and inform their neighbors, which would have been convenient.


Commentary: This section of the film is a bit slow, unfortunately. There is enough victims coming in to keep it from crawling, but since we know the disaster is coming, all of this worrying over how to inform everyone, summon the paper carriers blah-blah isn't really needed by the audience. A simple "I'll print up an order and have the kids deliver it!" would have sufficed.


Scene 40: Back at the hospital... uh, never mind.

[Apparently, that was just a shorthand to let us know we were in L.A.]


Scene 41: A radio announcer in L.A. reports that the Governor has ordered all non-official and non-evacuees to stay off the roads leading into San Angelo.


Commentary: Yes. That insert was certainly needed.


Scene 42: Meanwhile, an ambulance driver is escorting Cathy and Dr. Steve back to Little Town, USA.


Commentary: Hmm. I didn't remember so many pointless scenes. Darn it movie, don't make me give you a harsh score when I was remembering liking you.


Scene 43: Out at the Rancher's farm, Dave looks in speechless shock as the crystal pillars continue their march toward town, obliterating the homestead as he watches.

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Dave soon realizes that the rock is absorbing the water from the wet ground. [Duh.]

He times the rock spire's growth rate.


Scene 44: Meanwhile in town, Martin prepares the final evacuation order on behalf of the Chief.


Scene 45: Dave arrives back in town just as the kids are rushing to deliver the order door to door.

Arthur brings up the fact that he's been testing all of the ingredients in Hendricks' formula and none of them are stopping the crystal growth. He sets to work with the professor on testing pairs and triples of ingredients, trying to find the element combination that stopped Ginny from turning to stone.


Commentary: Did you REALLY try everything on the list, Professor? Really? Like, oh, did you try the saline solution that the medication was suspended in, mayhaps?


Scene 46: Scenes of paper boys delivering the news; people evacuating.


Commentary: All to the unrelenting Horns Of Excitement. "SHUT THE FUCK UP, ALREADY!"


Scene 47: Meanwhile, our ambulance arrives in town. The doctor rushes into Reynolds' to assist there, while Cathy goes over to the Interior extension office.


Scene 48: At the office, Cathy and Dave share a reunion moment, but there is a lot of work to do. They tell Cathy she can help them with their testing.


Scene 49: In the clinic, Hendricks checks out Mrs. Rancher's hand. He reports that they'll have to have the lung ready to go, but that the Mrs. should make a full recovery. [Assuming that the rocks don't roll into town and crush the building, along with them.]


Scene 50: In the little lab, our gang has met with one failure after another. Dave suggests trying the saline solution as a desperate measure just because they've tried everything else on Hendricks' list.

It ends up working. While regular water starts the reaction, the salt stops it.


Scene 51: Later, Dave is updating the Chief. He has a plan to dump truck in loads of salt from the nearby salt bed, creating a break as wide as the monolith's are tall. Even if they grow, they'll back up into the valley and buy the town some needed time.

The problem is that it isn't a solution. Eventually it'll rain again enough for the crystals to grow up the sides of the ravine. When it reaches the top, they'll crash and grow along the ridge until they fall into the lake created by the dam. Once that happens, they'll grow in the opposite direction along the river's path until they reach the flat plains and then they'll be everywhere.

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As discussion continues, Dave notices that if they could drain the lake via the flood gates, the waters would flow down in the correct direction to wash the salt up from the bed and carry to where it's needed.

Police Chief puts the kibosh on that, as the dam's flood gates drain in the opposite direction on the other side of the mountain. After a few pensive moments, Dave decides they have to blow up the dam - causing exclamations from Police Chief over blowing up a privately owned piece of property.

Dan asks the Chief to contact the governor to authorize it for public safety. In the meantime, he's going to take the dynamite from the salt reclamation plant and begin setting the charges.


Scene 52: Meanwhile, some doofus on a roof shouts down to Little Town, USA that he can see the monolith's approaching down the canyon right for them.

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Scene 53: While everyone in town is busy standing around and not evacuating, Dave has apparently convinced the plant workers to help him as they arrive in his car and a truck. They start unloading dynamite and placing it at strategic locations at the base of the dam.


Scene 54: After the set up, two men are left with the detonator, while the salt plant continues its movement of equipment out of the way. A radio call is placed to have them get out there.


Scene 55: Pointless scene of men leaving salt plant.


Scene 56: The monoliths continue crashing their way down the canyon toward town.


Scene 57: Dave arrives back in town. The Professor is worried about the amount of water behind the dam being too much and diluting the salt solution to the point of ineffectiveness, but there isn't anything they can do but hope.

Meanwhile, Chief reports that they can't blow the dam without the governor's word, and he's not been located yet. He's supposed to be on his way to inspect the disaster site in person.

Everyone loads up to go to the edge of town where they can keep an eye on the monolith's progress.


Scene 58: There is some concern that the rocks will grow out of the wash before the salt solution can be delivered and all of their plans will be for naught.

Everyone watches the crystals grow, crash, splinter and grow anew as they hit the plain.

Meanwhile, there is word that the governor has only just boarded his plane.

Dave decides they can't wait over the Chief's objections and grabs the radio from Deputy. He orders the dam blown.


Scene 59: The flood wipes out the salt processing plant and carries tons of salt into the rocks, while Dave and Chief wait to see if he'll have to be arrested when the governor finds out they didn't wait for his word.

This works and the monolith's are stopped in their tracks... and uh... the flood waters race back up the canyon to stop those behind the advancing column... and uh... then it floods the desert and washes all those bits of rock up, too... and uh... then it floods that crater with a salt lake.

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Commentary: Okay, fine! This ending doesn't work. So, the town is saved for the moment. SO WHAT?! You still have all of the other rocks up the canyon,  and the desert rocks that would have been growing in all directions, and the meteorite in its crater. *UGH* Damn it. Now, I wish I hadn't analyzed this so closely.


Scene 60: The Chief comes back from the police radio to report the governor was running late from meetings with state agencies. He relays the message that Dave is not to blow up the dam. UNLESS, he's sure it will work.

Laugh-Laugh.

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The Good: The central threat is unique, as is it's ability to grow and the solution. I like the creativeness of the story that gets away from the mutant-b movie-monster. I also like how Ben and Ginny are handled as victims.

I also like the characters, for the most part. Even my least favorite, the self deprecrating editor, isn't too irritating to put up with.

Grant Williams. *sigh*

I really like the special effects used for the growing, crashing, groaning, giant crystal monoliths, with a caveat.


The Bad: Jeezus - that monotonous "exciting stuff happening" score is WAY overused. It never lets up.

The entire scene of finding the original rock in the meteorite crater goes nowhere. Nothing new is learned, and they don't even retrieve a specimen for study. It's pointless filler.

Well, the ending doesn't work if you think about it (as I pointed out in the review, and below in Other Thoughts).

There is a real lack of romantic chemistry between "sweethearts" Grant Williams and Lola Albright, which really interferes with their supposed romantic interactions.


Other Thoughts: Well, there seems to be some confusion over the difference between skin stiffening up and actually turning to literal stone, and I don't think the film makers knew which they were going with.

Although I like the characters, I'll admit that I could use even less of the moping newpaper editor than we got.

I liked the way that the characters come around step by step to what the crystal is doing and how, but unfortunately the audience is already given all of this, so there isn't anything new. We're too far ahead of our characters for these scenes to work, even though the actors are doing a good job of their confusion and dawning understanding.

Unfortunately, that solution that I liked is only partially effective because not all of the crystals would've been impacted by the salt water. Everyone acts like the threat has been defeated, but it hasn't. Unless the crystals have a specific limit on how many times they can re-grow and multiply, everyone is still screwed. The crystals off in the desert and in the meteorite crater should still be a threat when that rain returns in less than two days. I wish this had been a plot point to keep the threat as clearly to this one small town.

I don't really think there was enough script here for the length, either, which is probably why we have so many inserted shots of random people doing random things that weren't needed. That's too bad, because they could have filled this story out easily by thinking they had stopped the town from being destroyed, only to realize that some of the other children still had their picked up rocks in the country side and it wasn't quite over, yet.


The Score: I really wanted to score this one much higher because I enjoy it while watching and I like the unique "monster". Plus, it's starring Grant *sigh, dreamy* Williams. But, on reviewing it, I know I can't. There are just too many problems that have come to light during my analysis. DAMN IT.

I can still say that I enjoyed it, though.     3.50 out of 5 stars.


Next Review: X-Files' Season 1 episode, "The Jersey Devil".


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tommycruisestommy50702 on February 10th, 2015 04:05 am (UTC)
Really unique idea for a 50's science fiction movie when back then they were usually about bug-eyed monsters and giant insects.
harsens_rob: sci-fiharsens_rob on February 10th, 2015 03:16 pm (UTC)
Agreed, which is why I like the movie so much. And how many films have a Department Of Interior employee as the Big Hero?

Despite the problems, I just find myself really satisfied with this film and appreciative of it being so different.

Thanks for the comment!