I love these 50's sci-fi movies. A lot of the fun ones are in the California/NM desert area. With today's big screen and high res T.V.'s all those old fuzzy films to out not to be so fuzzy. The old-timey cars would be worth a mint now and when the people drive them at night there are lights on the inside so you can see who is driving.
One of my favorite sci-fi actors is William Schallert. He only has a small part as the weatherman but it makes this an official 50's sci-fi movie.
I thought I saw this before but found that all I remember is that this film is the subject of many documentaries.
A meteor comes down leaving silica everywhere. Turns out that it has affinity to drink and ladyfingers. Well just about any finger will do. So a local town (San Angelo) is terrorized. Just when things could get no worse we find out what it likes to drink "it is raining!"
on November 25, 2010
I remembered this movie as a kid and always liked it. I hadn't seen the movie for at least 30 years, but when I finaly figured out the title I quickly grabbed this movie.
I was not disapointed.
This is not a gripping terror yarn, or a silly monster movie ( as a kid I thought the title doesn't fit and I still don't really think it does. Maybe Megalith or monolith "danger"..."monster" implies a scary creature)
I realized after watching this that this was a very carefully scripted, well plotted movie. No loose ends, none of the "...Oh they did a boner there", or "they screwed up there", or "that's pretty lame"...none of that. Nothing was contrived and the science they did, made sence, the origin made sence,the danger and menace made sence, the cure for the problem it caused in Humans made sence and the way the mennace was dealt with was plausible and credible. (though they didn't explain how the agent that stopped it worked, it did make "chemestry" sence.)
I have to say that of all the science fiction movies I've seen this is probably the most credible, logical, plausible one I've ever seen, and even the special effects of the growing rocks was pretty well done. (probably nothing by todays standards, but for the time, the effects were very good)
Considering this is a 1957 movie, and apparently a "B" movie at that, this is a very well crafted story, and sci-fi writers could learn a lesson or two. If your looking for a scream fest, this is not your movie, but if you don't want your intelligence insulted, this one is for you.
on June 28, 2004
This was the second monster movie I ever saw (right after Them!). Not I have it in my collection and it is better than I remembered.
A small mining town is in danger when a mysterious meteorite falls in the nearby mountains. Black rocks, unexplained deaths and destruction soon follow. Soon the truth is learned as it is discovered that the meteorite is a deadly menace. When the stone comes in contact with water is absorbs the silicates in the area and grows into a Column. Once tall enough, the column topples and shatters creating new pieces to grow and shatter.
Just as the menace is discovered the region experiences a torrential downpour. Gigantic columns of rock begin to tumble down a mountain pass towards the town. An evacuation is put into effect while a method of stopping the crushing rocks is searched for. People who come in contact with the rocks are paralyzed as their silicates are removed. A cure used on a small girl with a paralyzed arm leads to the breakthrough in stopping the monoliths. The only way to stop them before they destroy the town is to blow up the local dam so that it washes salt from the salt mine into the path of the approaching towers.
Although the idea of falling rocks used as monsters seems a bit lame, the movie works (if you ignore the science and biology). Better acting than is found in most monster movies contributes to the films success along with excellent special effects and genuine suspense. The Monolith Monsters should be added to the collection of any monster movie fan.
In science fiction films the threat of meteors serves as a plot premise in one of two ways. First, there are the meteors (or asteroids or comets or rouge planets) big enough that when they collide with the earth it is going to literally be the end of the world. Contemporary audiences will be thinking "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon," while those who are older or have a sense of cinematic history will be thinking of "Meteor" and other films all the way back to "When Worlds Collide" (which always makes me think of George Pal and his bride). Second, there are the meteors that crash and bring with them a strange visitor from another planet, which can be anything from a dangerous microscopic organism as we found in "The Andromeda Strain" or a growing monstrous glob that threatens to devour everyone at the local movie palace as in "The Blob." But in the 1957 film "The Monolith Monsters" the writers (Jack Arnold and Robert M. Fresco with the story, Fresco and Norman Jolley with the script) come up with something a little bit different. This time the meteor essentially IS the monster.
The opening for "The Monolith Monsters" is fairly traditional for a Fifties sci fi flick. Paul Frees does an initial voice over and then the meteorite crashes near a small California town. Ben Gilbert (Phil Harvey) just happens to have his car overheat near the impact point and since he happens to be a geologist for the Department of the Interior he checks out the meteorite. What he finds are these pieces of rock that look sort of glassy, like obsidian (they do look good), but he does not notice that a piece of rock that had water spilled on it is smoking. This cannot be good and we would know this even if the music did not provide an ominous clue. That night the wind knocks over a convenient beaker of water that falls on Ben's samples and the rock begins to grow into (you guessed it) a monster monolith.
When fellow geologist Dave Miller (Grant Williams, a.k.a. "The Incredible Shrinking Man") shows up the next day to the office he finds that Ben (cue the music) has been turned to stone. Plus there are all these broken pieces of black rock all over the place. Later that day Dave's girl friend, Cathy Barrett (Lola Albright) takes her class of school children on a field trip to the desert, where young Ginny Simpson (Linda Scheley) finds one of those cool looking pieces of black rock. She takes it home with her but her mother, who has not been watching the movie, insists Ginny wash off that dirty rock before she brings it into the house. By the time Dave starts to piece things together and shows up at the Simpson house, Ginny's parents are turned to stone and so is her arm. What can this all possibly mean?
This is the point in "The Monolith Monsters" where Dave turns to his mentor, Professor Arthur Flanders (Trevor Bardette), who shows up and starts connecting the dots by providing a lot of necessary exposition. The interesting idea here is that these rocks leach all of the silicone out of anything that touch, whether it is the dessert sand or Ginny's arm (I did not know that silicon was a big part of our arms, but then I never did take biology so what do I know? However, that iron lung doing what it does makes no sense at all). But the monster in this film is rather unique and for once there is not a lot of time wasted getting everybody to do the right thing; the closest thing to a villain in the film is veteran character actor William Schallert who plays a weatherman whose true level of expertise is about what you would expect from a 1950s weatherman.
Dave is a rather classic science fiction B-movie hero and there is something to be said for the film's simple solution to the menace of the monoliths (it is a simple household item found on most dinning room tables). For that matter the monoliths, which grow into this giant obelisks that then splinter and topple forward (decent special effects for the time), ready to repeat the process during the next thunderstorm, are pretty interesting just because they are so decidedly different; in other words, they are truly alien. You also have to like the brisk pace of this story, which director John Sherwood ("The Creature Walks Among Us") brings in at 77 minutes. Not a great film this remains a solid B-movie from the period that offers more than its share of originality with the ideas if not the execution.
on November 27, 2002
Meteor fragments from deep space grow gigantic and mobile after contact with plain water. What is worse, they absorb the silica out of human flesh and turn people into stone. (Silicon Valley nothwithstanding, I had to look up "silica," too). This nifty-'50s sci-fi flick is unique because the "monster" is a bunch of rocks. Not giant bugs or radioactive dinosaurs, mind you, but rocks with an attitude of deadly intention. Giant rocks that crush buildings and steadily move down the canyon toward the helpless desert town. The authorities run around with more than the usual B movie incredulity because they can't fathom what space-age menace is on the loose now. Our favorite scene is after Grant Williams figures out that water gives the rocks mysterious power, it starts raining heavily in an arid area that probably hadn't seen more than a passing shower for months. The script includes the obligatory mysterious deaths and enough suspense to keep classic sci-fi/horror fans amused. Sighful-eyeful, Lola Albright lends her considerable talents to the story. Sadly, her role as a "Miss Landers"-type schoolteacher means she dresses modestly, and there is no cleavage or cheesecake. Filmed in glorious B&W, this Universal entry is an entertaining second string effort. Fine for collectors and die-hard fans of '50s sci-fi. ;-)
on July 11, 2002
Although this movie was made in 1957, in my opinion it has the most well thought out plot from a scientific viewpoint of any movie that has been produced before or since! The actor that played the geologist was excellent - he played the role with great intensity at all the appropriate points in the film. I felt that the special effects were just excellent(even by todays standards). Even after all these years, I still get goosebumps when I watch this movie. The concept of these crystals growing to colossal heights & propagating across the country with the simple addition of water (which allowed them to draw silica from the earth) was mind boggling. This movie has never been given the credit it so richly deserves. It certainly would be wonderful if audiences could again be treated to a science fiction movie such as this with such well thought out concepts.
This movie would be a prime choice for a remake if it remained true to the original story line & just updated the technology, special effects & sound(which would be truly awesome with THX).
on February 1, 2002
-"Its been gathering the secrets of time and space for billions of years.And how long do we have to unlock its most important secrets?Three hours or three minutes?"-
The strength of this movie lies in the fact that its such an original story.Despite the title,there are no "monsters" in this movie.The threat comes in the form of a meteor that crashes to earth and when exposed to water grows to gigantic proportions only to come crashing back down to the earth where it breaks into pieces and the process is repeated over and over again...
To tell you more would ruin the film for you because a major portion of the movie is dedicated to discovering the secrets of the meteor and finding a way to stop its slow advance towards the town of San Angelo.
One problem I had with the film was that no one was ever in any immediate danger from the falling rocks.A scene with one of the main characters speeding down the highway while the monoliths are crashing down around him would have done a lot to boost the excitement level.
All told,this is a decent little flick.The spfx are good if not great and the cast is pretty solid.I thought it had a bit more potential than what made it to the screen but I definetly enjoyed it more the second time I watched it.
If you like 50's sci-fi but your looking for something a little different I dont think you'll regret making this purchase.
on May 23, 2001
First of all I could have sworn I saw a DVD of this film. But in andy case...
Like all of the '50's Sci-Fi movies one must put away their modern-day objections and open their minds to some silliness. If one can't do that, all of these movies will be nothing more than kids stuff. "Monolith Monsters" must be viewed with the same open-mindedness. It's a good story that allows the mystery to build before we get to the payoff: So-so special effects of "living" rocks that grow into "monoliths" of towering, tumbling rocks that threaten a desert community. One can't help to ask: "How long have the meteor fragments been in the desert and is this the first time it ever rained to initiate this terror?" Don't be a cynical adult when watching this film and you'll enjoy it. It makes for a good weekend watch with your kids or by yourself and is much better than many other '50's Sci-Fi movies. On a quality scale, I put it slightly below "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" or "Them" but equal to "Trantula." For those (like me) who can't help themselves when it comes to '50's Sci-Fi, this is a film worth having.
on October 8, 1999
...for what that's worth. Like the last reviewer, I saw it at a very early age. Thirty years later (channel flipping at 1 am), I recognized it instantly--from nothing more than the opening scene of a car moving down a desert highway. It must be a very special movie that something like that should happen--twice, judging from saxsdad's review. And forget the allegory-for-the-communist-threat hypothesis: that's a (thankfully discredited) analysis of 50's sci-fi that began in the paraniod imaginings of professors paid on the side by the column inch. Nevertheless, Monolith Monsters abounds in rich Freudian imagery (this last to film students hard-up for a paper topic). And it has all the elements of classic Hollywood 50's sci-fi: it takes place in the DESERT, there are Scientifical Experiments and Explanations, it has Alien Monsters, and High-Technology (albeit an iron lung)--all except radiation (being the California desert, not NM). The B/W photography rounds out Monolith Monster's bona fides. Get it while you still can. Whenever you have an apartment that needs cleaning, dishes that need washing, or a paper due in the morning, you'll never tire of watching this instead.
on April 25, 1999
This is the same kind of dull '50s sci-fi we're all used to. You know, the kind that winds up on MST3K because it's so bad! Many people have drawn the Communist-Threat analogy to this type of movie which goes to show you can read just about anything into a weather report or a Valentine.
The threat this time is brought about by a mysterious meteor that crashes to earth depositing a strange, black, obsidian-like rock all around the impact site in the desert. But when a geologist spills water on a fragment, it GROWS! If that weren't bad enough, it absorbs moisture from anything nearby, including people. Soon, the rocks begin to grow into tall spires, which fall over and create more fragments that grow and... well, you get the idea. The little helpless town of San Angelo is directly in the path of the oncoming monoliths, and there's a race against time to figure out a way to stop the menace.
Imagine being menaced by mono-colored Magic Rocks and you've got the picture.
If John Agar were in it, he could not have made this flick more unbearable to watch. Rotten acting abounds, although the heroine love interest is cute and has a certain amount of talent. The idea of the movie is pretty clever too. This might make a really good remake.
Buy it if you've got tons of bucks. Rent it otherwise.