From the video case:
A giant meteor crashes to Earth near the small town of San Angelo, and local geologist Ben Gilbert (Phil Harvey) brings a fragment back for testing. Shortly afterwards, fellow geologist Dave Miller (Grant Williams) shows up and finds the lab filled with rocks and Ben cold and dead, his body turned completely to stone.
Meanwhile, Dave’s girlfriend, Cathy Barrett (Lola Albright), takes her students on a desert field trip and young Ginny Simpson (Linda Scheley) takes one of the strange rocks home. Soon, like the lab, the Simpson farm is in ruins, Ginny’s parents are dead, and she herself is half petrified, but still alive.
Now, in a desperate race against time and nature, Dave and Professor Arthur Flanders (Trevor Bardette) must unlock the secret of the deadly rocks from outer space before they blanket the world and destroy mankind in an unstoppable wave of stone cold terror. (1957, b&w)
The Monolith Monsters is one of my favorite lesser-known Universal films. It’s an intriguing, and somewhat unusual story, with an array of colorful characters. The acting isn’t great, mind you, but there is something about these folks that make you like them.
San Angelo is sort of Mayberry with a Twilight Zone twist. Somehow, this movie gets you caught up in its little adventure.
The hero of Monolith Monsters is Dave Miller, played by Grant Williams (The Incredible Shrinking Man). He’s one of two local geologists. His partner is Ben Gilbert, portrayed by Phil Harvey (The Deadly Mantis, Monster On The Campus). Both fellows are very likable, and I wouldn’t mind chatting with either of them.
Dave’s girlfriend is school teacher, Cathy Barrett (Lola Albright). She’s not the most interesting person, but a nice lady with an even temperament. She also seems to be the only datable woman in the town of San Angelo.
My favorite character is Les Tremayne (The Angry Red Planet, The War of the Worlds) as newspaper man, Martin Cochrane. He mopes around and complains about his lot in life, and sometimes waxes philosophical. It’s hard to pinpoint his purpose in the film, but I’m glad he’s around, just for color.
There are other fine characters in this movie, too. For example, Steve Darrell (Tarantula) as desert farmer, Joe Higgins. He doesn’t get much screen time, but what he does get he makes the most of. I even like the opening narration by Paul Frees (The Thing from Another World).
You get the gist of the story by reading the video description above. I will only add that I think that the special effects, while by no means spectacular, are at least interesting. The plot has some obvious holes in it, but all in all, forgivable.
Each aspect of this movie, when taken individually, seems barely adequate, but somehow, when put all together, this conglomeration of adequacy becomes something more. It’s hard to place my finger on exactly why, but I really like this movie.
Directed by John Sherwood (The Creature Walks Among Us).
Scene to watch for: Little Ginny learns a lesson in lizard love.
Line to listen for: “Negative cleavage?”
Trivia: You may recognize lead actress, Lola Albright, as nightclub singer Edie Hart from the TV series, Peter Gunn.
Note of interest: The set for San Angelo, the fictional town in this film, was also used in two other Universal sci-fi films of the 1950s: Tarantula and It Came from Outer Space.
Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ! out of 5.