THE BLACK SCORPION (1957) Reviews of Willis O’Brien monster movie

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‘Every horror you’ve seen on the screen grows pale beside the horror of’
The Black Scorpion is a 1957 American science fiction horror film about volcanic activity that frees giant scorpions from the earth; the monsters wreak havoc in the rural countryside and eventually threaten Mexico City.

Directed by Edward Ludwig from a screenplay written by David Duncan and Robert Blees, based on a storyline by Paul Yawitz. Produced by Frank Melford and Jack Dietz (The Ape Man) and released by Warner Bros.

The Amex Productions movie stars Richard Denning (Unknown Island) and Mara Corday (The Giant Claw, Tarantula).

The stop-motion special effects were created and supervised by Willis O’Brien (King Kong). Pete Peterson, who worked with O’Brien on Mighty Joe Young and would again on The Giant Behemoth, did most of the actual hands-on animation.

Buy Blu-ray:

The Black Scorpion will be released on Blu-ray on March 20, 2018, via Warner Archive Collection. Special features:
Stop Motion Masters with Ray Harryhausen
Las Vegas Monster and the Beetlemen test footage
Ray Harryhausen’s dinosaur sequence from The Animal World
Giant Monsters trailer gallery
Theatrical trailer

An earthquake strikes Mexico, resulting in the overnight birth of a new volcano. Sent to study this phenomenon are geologists Doctor Hank Scott (Denning) and Doctor Arturo Ramos (Rivas). En route to the village of San Lorenzo, the two men witness a destroyed house and police car. They find a dead policeman nearby, as well as an abandoned infant.

They take the infant to San Lorenzo and give it to friends of the child’s now missing parents; they are welcomed by the village’s priest, Father Delgado (Pedro Galván). In addition to the disappearances of locals and the destruction of their homes, there have been wholesale slaughter of livestock and strange roaring noises in the night. The villagers believe the culprit to be a demon bull and have been pestering Delgado for divine assistance…

“There is no guilt complex here, and no return of the repressed. The Black Scorpion becomes one of the purest and most straightforward of all 1950’s ‘Creature Features’, it is divested of the extraneous baggage that slows down its contemporaries, its simplicity is a major asset.’ The Celluloid Highway

“The excellent stop-motion work makes The Black Scorpion worth your time, and though the acting and story are sorely lacking, there is enough camp value here to keep you moderately entertained between scenes.” Exclamation Mark

“Not all the effects are solid: the scorpions look awful in facial close-ups and the budget ran out before everything could be completed, so a few scenes have the giant scorpions appear in silhouette form because only the backing had been completed at that time. Fortunately, much of the work had been done and there are two setpieces in particular to praise, plus a shorter scene in which an army of scorpions take on a toy train.’ Apocalypse Later

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