Home > Uncategorized > The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

            Oh, boy.  As “Hot Mess Cinema” goes, this one needs to be handled with oven mitts.  “The Beast of Yucca Flats” is a nightmarish mess of shots clustered together loosely.  There is no reason, no purpose to the shambling thing.  It simply is, and that is unfortunate.  It almost seems that the movie is like some kind of mathematical impossibility; the whole is less than the sum of its parts.  This kind of reverse-productivity became absolutely astonishing to me as the movie stumbled along.   

            “The Beast of Yucca Flats” begins in media res, with a kind of “Psycho” shower killing that was miraculously executed without evoking an ounce of suspense.  Even though the scene kicks off the movie, it is never mentioned again.  The scene just vanishes.  Then the audience gets to meet the great protagonist, turned antagonist whose missteps couldn’t emotionally matter any less.  Swedish pro wrestler turned Ed Wood regular, Tor Johnson, plays a brilliant (snicker) scientist named Joseph Javorsky.  He becomes irradiated after a nuke goes off, and spends the rest of the movie aimlessly wondering around the desert killing people, sweating like only a four-hundred pound man can.  He is brought down with gunfire from the local dimwit sheriff and the movie ends.  Poof, it just ends.  Watching “The Beast of Yucca Flats” felt like waiting for a bus, because it is just dead time.  Nothing is gained here, but the nice thing is that nothing is lost, either. 

            Piece for piece, this movie is technically awful.  As I watched it, I noticed the obvious; the plot is disjointed to the point of non-existence, the continuity is screwy, and the acting sucks.  Then I started to ask myself why the acting sucks, and I realized that I never got to see any of the actors talking.  That is to say, every time there is dialogue, the camera is too far away to see mouths moving, or the characters are shot from behind, or their mouths are covered, and then it hit me; they didn’t have any sound equipment on location.  This was shot as a silent movie!  That was the icing on the cake for me because I wondered why every spoken line in the movie sounded like it was recorded inside a cardboard box.  Every amateur screen writer should watch this movie, because I feel it is a classic example of the “Shitty First Draft,” except it was never revised.  I’m sure the writer had lots of great things to say about the Atomic Age, the crushing wheels of progress, and how man becomes a casualty of his own ambition, but that movie was never made.  Instead, we are left with a movie full of emptiness; intangible, like the ether.      

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