Film Review: The Black Scorpion (1957)

Also known as: El escorpión negro (Spanish title)
Release Date: October 11th, 1957
Directed by: Edward Ludwig
Written by: Robert Blees, David Duncan
Music by: Paul Sawtell
Cast: Richard Denning, Mara Corday, Carlos Rivas, Mario Navarro

Warner Bros., 88 Minutes

Review:

“[to the peons in the village as he and Ramos pull into the rural town in their jeep] We’re from Mexico City! I say, we’re from Mexico City! We’re scientists! Is the mayor here?” – Hank Scott

There were a lot of these giant creature movies in the 1950s when American culture had succumbed to atomic hysteria. Some of these films are good and some are terrible but then there is a third type, the ones that are so bad that they become an incredibly amusing experience to witness.

The Black Scorpion is that third type. This is also probably why it was riffed on the first nationally televised season of Mystery Science Theater 3000. But as awful as the effects may seem, they were still created by stop motion maestro Willis O’Brien: the man behind the effects on The Lost WorldKing Kong and Mighty Joe Young. Classic stop motion doesn’t hold up well today but for the time, it was better than the alternative method of forced perspective.

The plot sees this giant black scorpion start tearing up shit in Mexico. It’s a good Hollywood example of refined whitey boffins talking down to a culture that isn’t theirs. But I guess that doesn’t make this any different than any ’50s film that features scientists in an exotic location.

It’s a silly movie but it is exciting if you are into this type of thing. I obviously am because I spend a lot of my time throwing films like this on.

On a side note: it has a really cool poster. The monster is also cool. Plus, it has a lovable face.

I will refrain from running this through the Cinespiria Shitometer because I really like this film and I respect the work of O’Brien.

Rating: 4/10
Pairs well with: Other O’Brien stop motion pictures like The Lost WorldKing Kong and Mighty Joe Young.

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