The Monolith Monsters (1957)

Mammoth skyscrapers of stone thundering across the earth!

I watched the 1957  Universal-International, science-fiction/horror movie “The Monolith Monsters” on Svengoolie. It was produced by Howard Christie (Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet the Invisible Man, Abbott and Costello Go to Mars, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, and TV such as Wagon Train, The Virginian, Larado) , and directed by John Sherwood (The Creature Walks Among Us).

The movie tells the story of a large meteorite that crashes in a Southern California desert and explodes into hundreds of black fragments which have strange properties. When those fragments are exposed to water, they grow very large and tall.

The fragments also begin to slowly petrify some of the inhabitants of a nearby small town. Most exteriors were filmed in the Alabama Hills[1] in Lone Pine, California, whose rugged landscape has been used in films such as Gunga Din, High Sierra, Maverick, How the West Was Won, The Charge of the Light Brigade, and Gladiator.

Universal’s back lot, particularly Courthouse Square, was used for the town scenes. The film’s “California Medical Research Institute” is the same fictional facility that also features prominently in Universal’s “The Incredible Shrinking Man”.

Cast
  • Grant Williams as Dave Miller – (August 18, 1931 – July 28, 1985) The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Monolith Monsters, The Leech Woman, PT 109, Brain of Blood, Doomsday Machine)
  • Lola Albright as Cathy Barrett – (July 20, 1924 – March 23, 2017) The Monolith Monsters, Kid Galahad, TV episodes of Peter Gunn, The Beverly Hillbillies, Burke’s Law, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Rawhide, Wagon Train, Bonaza, Peyton Place, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., McMillan & Wife, The Incredible Hulk
  • Les Tremayne as Martin Cochrane – (April 16, 1913 – December 19, 2003) Francis Goes to West Point, The War of the Worlds, Forbidden Planet, The Monolith Monsters, From the Earth to the Moon, The Monster of Piedras Blancas, The Angry Red Planet, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Mutiny on the Bounty, Goldfinger, War of the Planets
  • Trevor Bardette as Professor Arthur Flanders -(November 19, 1902 – November 28, 1977) Gone with the Wind, The Grapes of Wrath, Flight to Mars, The Monolith Monsters
  • Phil Harvey as Ben Gilbert – (May 11, 1921 – January 5, 2021) Francis in the Haunted House, The Monolith Monsters, Touch of Evil, The Thing That Couldn’t Die, Monster on the Campus, TV episodes of Gunsmoke, Death Valley Days, The Tom Ewell Show
  • William Flaherty as Police Chief Dan Corey – (May 2, 1919 – January 1, 2000) Man of a Thousand Faces, The Monolith Monsters, TV episodes of M Squad, Dragnet, Highway patrol, Death Valley Days, Bonanza, Sea Hunt, Ripcord
  • Harry Jackson as Dr. Steve Hendricks – (March 21, 1923 – July 30, 1973) The Monolith Monsters, TV episodes of The Phil Silvers Show, Maverick, The Twilight Zone, Dennis the Menace, Hawaiian Eye, The Danny Thomas Show, Hazel, Perry Mason
  • Richard H. Cutting as Dr. E. J. Reynolds – (October 31, 1912 – March 7, 1972) Creature with the Atom Brain, Attack of the Crab Monsters, The Monolith Monsters, South Pacific, Monster on the Campus, TV episodes of Hopalong Cassidy, The Man Behind the Badge, Lux Video Theatre, The Millionaire, Crossroads, The Lineup, Death Valley Days, U.S. Marshal, Tales of Wells Fargo, State Trooper, Bonanza, Laramie, Maverick, Sugarfoot, Wagon Train, The Green Hornet
  • Linda Scheley as Ginny Simpson – (Born August 7, 1950) The Monolith Monsters
  • Claudia Bryar as Mrs. Simpson – (May 18, 1918 – June 16, 2011) I Was A Teenage Frankenstein, The Shakiest Gun in the West, Angel in My Pocket, The Monolith Monsters, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Psycho II, Psycho III
  • Dean Cromer as Lead Highway Patrolman – (July 8, 1917 – December 14, 1995) Them!, The Monolith Monsters, TV episodes of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, Fireside Theatre, I Led 3 Lives, Adventures of Superman, Perry Mason, Highway Patrol, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Cheyenne, Death Valley Days, The Donna Reed Show, Mission:Impossible, Adam-12, Wonder Woman
  • Steve Darrell as Rancher Joe Higgins – (November 19, 1904 – August 14, 1970) Code of the Secret Service, Nothing but Trouble, Heldorado, Roll on Texas Moon, The Monolith Monsters, Tarantula
  • William Schallert as Meteorologist – (July 6, 1922 – May 8, 2016) The Man from Planet X, Them!, The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Gallant Hours, Speedway, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Strongest Man in the World, Tunnel Vision, Hangar 18, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Innerspace, House Party 2, TV episodes of Leave it to Beaver, Richard Diamond Private Detective, Wanted Dead or Alive, Sea Hunt, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Death Valley Days, Hazel, The Lucy Show, The Patty Duke Show, Combat!, The Rat Patrol, Star Trek, The Mod Squad, Bewitched, Land of the Giants, Get Smart, The Partridge Family, Kung Fu, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Matlock, Quantum Leap, The Torkelsons, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, How I Met Your Mother, According to Jim
  • Troy Donahue as Hank Jackson (Dynamite Expert) – (January 27, 1936 – September 2, 2001) The Monolith Monsters, Monster on the Campus, Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon, The Godfather: Part II, TV episodes of Rawhide, Wagon Train, Tales of Wells Fargo, Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, Surfside 6, Hawaiian Eye, The Patty Duke Show, Ironside, Ellery Queen, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, CHiPs, Fantasy Island, Laverne and Shirley
  • Paul Petersen as Bobby – Newsboy – (born September 23, 1945) an American actor, singer (Colpix), novelist, and activist, The Monolith Monsters, In The Year 2889, TV episodes of Donna Reed Show, F-Troop
  • Paul Frees as opening narrator (uncredited) – (June 22, 1920 – November 2, 1986) was an American actor, comedian, impressionist and vaudevillian, voice work in films such as The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, The Monkey’s Uncle, Boris Badenov (from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show), Inspector Fenwick (from Dudley Do-Right, impersonating Eric Blore), District Commissioner Alistair and Weevil Plumtree in George of the Jungle, Baron Otto Matic in Tom Slick, Fred in Super Chicken, several voices for the Jackson Five cartoon series, several J. R. R. Tolkien characters (most notably the dwarf Bombur) in Rankin/Bass animated versions of The Hobbit and The Return of the King, The Little Drummer Boy, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, The Manchurian Candidate, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, Colossus: The Forbin Project, King Kong Escapes, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, The Cyclops, I Dream of Jeannie, Midway, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, The Monolith Monsters

The film’s special effects were created by Clifford Stine, whose career began in 1933 with “King Kong”. Alternate takes from Universal’s “It Came from Outer Space” (1953), which Stine also created, were used for the meteor crash in the film’s opening sequence.

From time immemorial the Earth has been bombarded by objects from outer space, bits and pieces of the universe piercing our atmosphere in an invasion that never ends. Meteors, the shooting stars on which so many earthly wishes have been born – of the thousands that plummet toward us, the greater part are destroyed in a fiery flash as they strike the layers of air that encircle us. Only a small percentage survives. Most of these fall into the water which covers two-thirds of our world, but from time to time, from the beginning of time, a very few meteors have struck the crust of the Earth and formed craters – craters of all sizes, sought after and poured over by scientists of all nations for the priceless knowledge buried within them. In every moment of every day they come from planets belonging to stars whose dying light is too far away to be seen. From infinity they come. Meteors!
[meteor crashes]
Another strange calling card from the limitless reaches of space. Its substance unknown, its secrets unexplored, the meteor lies dormant in the night – waiting!

Narrator – Paul Frees

The movie’s music, although uncredited, was by Henry Mancini (Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Creature Walks Among Us, Operation Petticoat, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther),

Irving Getz (The Alligator People, Curse of the Undead, The Leech Woman, Daniel Boone, Land of the Giants Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) and Herman Stein (It Came from Outer Space, Revenge of the Creature, This Island Earth, Lost in Space). I like this movie and I’m going to give it 4 out of 5 stars.



Footnotes
  1. The Alabama Hills are a range of hills and rock formations near the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada in the Owens Valley, west of Lone Pine in Inyo County, California. Though geographically separate from the Sierra Nevada, they are part of the same geological formation.
Sources

Wikipedia
IMDB
Rotten Tomatoes
Svengoolie

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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