Film Review: The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956)

Release Date: August 1956
Directed by: Edward Nassour, Ismael Rodriguez
Written by: Willis O’Brien (as El Toro Estrella), Robert Hill, Jack DeWitt
Music by: Raul Lavista
Cast: Guy Madison, Patricia Medina, Carlos Rivas, Mario Navarro

United Artists, 81 Minutes

Review:

This is just a really weird film.

Let me start by saying that, as a western, this film is really good. I enjoyed the story thoroughly and I was engaged by the characters, their situations and the world they lived in. It was dynamite for a mid 1950s low budget western affair.

Then the dinosaur showed up and ruined the movie.

Had this film not had the dinosaur added into it, I would have seen it as a really underrated western gem.

I liked Guy Madison as the lead cowboy a lot. Carlos Rivas was great as his rancher partner Felipe. Eduardo Noriega was a decent western villain. Patricia Medina did a fine job as the love interest and motherly figure to Panchito. Pascual Garcia Pena was hilarious and endearing as Pancho. Mario Navarro was good as his son Panchito and he wasn’t annoying, as kid actors tend to be. Ultimately, this was well casted, had good characters and was well-written and executed.

Then the dinosaur showed up and ruined the movie.

The dinosaur sequences were bizarre and felt out of place with the rest of the film. A lot of the dinosaur effects were achieved using stop-motion but in some of the closeups, they used an articulated puppet. This is also the first film to feature stop-motion shot in a widescreen format and in color.

Unfortunately, the mixing of the stop-motion and the live action isn’t well handled. Often times the dinosaur looks crisp on the screen while the live action backdrop is blurry and out of focus. Also, some of the action between the dinosaur and the separately filmed live action sequences don’t sync up and are nonsensical.

It is hard to decipher what the hell is happening in the end, as our hero swings wildly from a rope, taunting the dinosaur and leading him into a tar pit. A tar pit that didn’t sink the human moments earlier but somehow swallows a giant dinosaur whole. Maybe the dino’s immense weight has something to do with it but low budget sci-fi filmmakers of the 1950s never bothered with crap like physics.

If someone did a re-edit of this picture without the beast, it would be infinitely better.

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