The Monster of Piedras Blancas ★★★

2017 Cult Movie Challenge
Week #7: '50s Sci-Fi

THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS (Irvin Berwick, 1959)
Olive Films Blu-Ray

"I never saw anything like it in my life. Head ripped clean off." In the one-Jeep town of Piedras Blancas, the authorities are baffled when a pair of fishermen wash up sans craniums. The local deli owner recalls tales of a crustaceanal creep, but little does he know the meat scraps he's been giving the point's lighthouse operator, a surly man no one particularly likes, are actually being offered up to satisfy the creature's hunger. When the monster's meal schedule gets unintentionally missed, it's left to its own devices, and this quiet coastal community's about to be a few heads shy at the next census.

Running a short 71 minutes, THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS keeps its bipedal beastie offscreen until the very last section, though its initial appearance, only partially revealed with decapitated trophy in hand, is one of the film's most memorable moments. (And everyone's casual acceptance of the existence of a seven-foot rampaging reptile is downright hilarious.) The buildup to this plays the film as a reasonably straightforward mystery, with a slight subplot exploring the budding romance between a science student and the beacon keeper's daughter, and a few offbeat touches (like a weird scene where a crippled kid hightails it across town to report a murder, or the bit where our bloodthirsty being seems unusually interested in the heroine's undergarments) doing their best to help hold your attention. Still, a little less talk and a little more monster would've gone a long way, but at least once he finally shows, in all his drooling glory, he's worth the wait. 6/10

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