‘Screaming young girls sucked into a labyrinth of horror by a blood-starved ghoul from hell.’
Beast from Haunted Cave is a 1958 horror/gangster/heist feature film directed by Monte Hellman (Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!) and starring Michael Forest, Frank Wolff (Cold Eyes of Fear; Death Walks on High-Heels) Richard Sinatra, and Sheila Carroll. It was released January 1, 1959.
Filmed in South Dakota at the same time as Ski Troop Attack, it tells the story of bank robbers fleeing in the snow who run afoul of a giant spider-like monster that feeds on humans.
Screenwriter Charles B. Griffith (Little Shop of Horrors) rewrote an earlier screenplay for the film Naked Paradise using the working title Creature from the Cave . A third version of this storyline appeared as the comedy film Creature from the Haunted Sea. It was produced by Roger Corman’s brother, Gene (Attack of the Giant Leeches), and released on a double-bill with The Wasp Woman.
A group of criminals, led by the ruthless Alexander Ward (Frank Wolff), hatch a plan to steal gold bars from a vault in Deadwood, South Dakota. Ward sends one of his henchmen, Marty (Richard Sinatra), to set an explosive in a nearby gold mine, the detonation of which will act as a diversion for their heist.
Although Marty, accompanied by a local barmaid (Linné Ahlstrand), succeeds in setting the explosive, he encounters a beast (Chris Robinson) in the mine. The beast kills the barmaid, but Marty escapes with his life.
The next morning, the explosive goes off as planned and Marty and his gang succeed in stealing gold bars from the vault. They set off to a remote cabin, led by a local guide named Gil Jackson (Michael Forest), where they hope to be picked up by a plane.
Gil is initially unaware of their plans, but he becomes suspicious when he hears reports of the robbery on the radio and discovers that they’re carrying handguns. They reach the cabin without incident, but once there, a violent snowstorm delays the plane’s arrival.
Marty’s “secretary,” Gypsy (Sheila Noonan), is taken by the young Gil and tells him that Marty plans to kill him once the plane arrives. Gil and Gypsy take off back to town together.
Marty, who still carries unpleasant memories of his encounter with the beast, has all the while been concerned about being followed. He encounters the beast again during the trip to the cabin, but his companions think he’s losing his mind…
“All of the monster stuff was added later on because (uncredited) executive producer Roger Corman wanted another creature feature. Like most other Corman films from the time, this is very low budget, short and talky, though an efficient enough time-waster. The script gives us a simple plot with fair, sometimes snappy dialogue and OK characterizations.” The Bloody Pit of Horror
“The film spends more time as a low-end crime thriller than a horror item. The monster is not all that scary, and is all too clearly a manipulated marionette made of rags and hair. But the majority of its appearances are well-staged (skipping a few sickly shots of the thing superimposed over the snow) and it retains a certain mystery.” DVD Talk
” …Beast from Haunted Cave uses the beast as an almost minor plot point, despite the film’s title. The scenes inside the monster’s lair, the ‘haunted cave’, remain downright creepy. Pale, half-dead bodies hang cocoon-like on the walls, and Hellman’s use of shadows, whether intentional or not, remain effective and disturbing today.” Digitally Obsessed!
“There’s a lot of things I like about this movie, most of which have to do with Griffith’s script. It’s one of those cases where the monster action is forced to take back seat to the heist plot, but the characters are rather interesting, and if it weren’t for the rather sluggish pace of the movie, it would hold the attention just fine.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
“While the monster follows them on their trek, it really doesn’t get much to do until the last third of the film, so I suppose they had to do something to fill the rest of the time. Still, it’s an interesting set up for a monster movie, and reasonably well made in an ultra-cheap, Roger Corman Fifties quickie sort of way.” Rivets on the Poster
“First-time director Monte Hellman … does an admirable job with the leftovers he’s got to work with, infusing this heist flick/monster movie combo with a touch of French New Wave cinema – dotted with hip ski resort babes, jazzy interludes, moody crooks donning indoor sunglasses and a surprising amount of cinematic wherewithal…” Willard’s Wormholes
Aspect ratio: 1.85 : 1