THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS
- RELEASE DATE: Available Now on Blu-ray (Click Here to Purchase a Copy)
- WRITTEN BY: H. Haile Chace
- DIRECTED BY: Irvin Berwick
- STARRING: Les Tremayne, Forrest Lewis, John Harmon
In the sleepy little coastal town of Piedras Blancas life is pretty normal for Sturges the town’s lighthouse keeper. He spends his days haranguing with the local shop keep, dotting on the safety of his teenage daughter, and leaving food scarps in a cave for the local blood crazed prehistoric sea monster to keep it calm. Well, wouldn’t you know it; one day Big S misses a feeding and that ol’ creature gets hangry…and starts ripping the heads off the locals six ways to Sunday; even though they staunchly disbelieve its existence until they no longer can!
With its prehistoric fish man antagonist; this film unavoidably draws comparisons to the 1954 universal Pictures classic THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (hell, the creature suits in both fright flicks were made by the same dude; namely Jack Kevan), but for me it has a few things that set it slightly above that classic creature feature. For one thing; this picture moves a lot faster than CREATURE; and never gets a case of “lead in ass” that bogs that picture down at times. Another plus is the (shocking for the times) gore that punctuate the film; while crude, it had to be absolutely gob smacking for audiences of the late 1950’s to see those severed heads (not to mention a crab making a meal of one). Additionally, the monster suit in this pic is aces and every bit as solid as the ol’ Gill Man…it’s a shame that this pic never had any sequels to solidify its monster as a classic in the pop culture consciousness.
Working against the picture is its more prosaic setting. THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON got a lot of mileage out of its “exotic” setting; it seemed mysterious and strange and added to the over-all atmosphere of the piece. A beach town with a lighthouse doesn’t pack the same punch, and detracts a bit from the overall aesthetics.
While completely devoid of extras; credit has to be given to the gorgeous transfer Olive had delivered for this release; and just the fact that this film has a Blu-ray release at all is cause to celebrate for fright flick fanatics.
If you’re a fan of man in suit creature features of the days of yore; THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS absolutely belongs in your collection; it’s a wonderful complement to the CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON films, as well as an excellent bridge for the more gore soaked monster mayhem that was to come to drive-ins and grindhouses (think of this as the HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP of its time and you’ll be right on board with what this film has to offer)!