Saturday, October 29, 2011

Monster On The Campus!

This is the story of a respected scientist who by dint of an accident involving Gamma radiation becomes an uncontrollable monster.

No, it's not this guy.

This is the story of a man named Donald Blake who finds an ancient secret which gives him access to more power than a normal man and a peculiar proficiency with ancient weapons.

No, it's not this guy.

This is the story a professor wishing to unlock the secrets of evolution who gets bitten by a dead fish and changes into a prehistoric killing machine.

Yeah, it's this guy.

The tale begins on a bucolic college campus when a Coelocanth is delivered to one Professor Donald Blake. The fish, treated with Gamma rays to keep it fresh, is delivered in a partially unfrozen state and its blood seeps onto the street where a German Shepherd laps up a few drops and changes into a ferocious sabre-toothed wolf. The dog gets better. Blake (Arthur Franz) and his girlfriend Madeliene (Joanna Moore) along with BMOC Jimmy (Troy Donahue) miss the critical clues but later Blake in a freak accident gets bitten by the dead fish and transforms into a Neanderthal who kills Molly Riordan, a nurse who wanted to befriend him in various ways. The police suspect Blake, but bizarre hand prints convince them another person must be the killer. Blake despite his blackout and misadventure is in class the next day where he again encounters a prehistoric dragonfly two feet in length. Blood again becomes mixed with his pipe tobacco and before you can "Trog" he's changed again and kills again. At last Blake begins to suspect the truth and goes to a remote cabin to intentionally bring out his inner caveman, but his girlfriend turns up as do the police and circumstances get hairy, to say the least.

This is fun little shocker with a ton of coincidence to explain away a slim plot, but it does offer up some very evocative scenes. The image of Nurse Riordan dangling from a tree by her hair after having died of shock is a keeper. Likewise the scenes on the campus streets featuring long shadows work pretty well. The action is pretty evenly paced, and the acting is pretty good, as this one is filled with veteran character actors who know how to keep it interesting. Whit Bissel is on board too as a skeptical colleague of Blake's, and he's always a blast on screen.

Franz as the dim-witted Professor is just unlikeable enough that you don't really care about his ultimate fate. The movie does do a good job of getting you to care about his victims though. There is very little actually seen in this lower budget affair, but a great deal is very effectively suggested.

I very much recommend this one. If you haven't seen it, it's a hoot.

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