An earthquake in the Salton Sea unleashes a horde of prehistoric mollusk monsters. Discovering the creatures, a Naval officer and several scientists attempt to stop the monsters, but they escape into the canal system of the California's Imperial Valley and terrorize the populace.Written by
Jeremy Lunt <email@example.com>
When an earthquake awakens century-old giant mollusks with tusk-like mandibles and an appetite to match the long-hibernation, naval Captain Twill (former cowboy star of the forties Tim Holt) applies his no-nonsense, practical man skills to solve the problem. But not before some of his friends, subordinates and bystanders are inhaled. Single mother (Dalton) woos the affections of the married-to-the-uniform Twill, while her child (prolific child actress Gibson) causes untold grief while unattended in the laboratory. Oops! Did I bump the humidicrib regulator and accidentally breed a parasitic behemoth that could destroy the base? Evidence of why children should never be taken to the workplace, even if for the purpose of procuring cheap labour.
What distinguishes this picture, however, from the litany of inferiority that contaminate most of the fifties monster sub-genre is its acting. Holt is uber-professional in his timing, expression, delivery and especially interplay with the less experienced cast around him. Dalton, a former theatre actress, is also robust and there's excellent support in veterans Conried and Jones. The monster mollusks, which look like super-magnified maggots make horrendous shrieking yowls and are mostly concealed from view (the 'what lies beneath' imaginings do the job for the most part). Their inspired creation are among the more memorable movie monsters, not entirely absurd nor without some shock value considering the production scale.
Reasonably fast-paced, although the time taken to discover the presence of the monsters is longer that most audiences might expect. The narrative build-up is consistent with the mystery theme most often used in these types of movies, and serves the purpose reasonably well; the early conjecture about the aquatic assailant being a large shark was not an original alibi in terms of plot development, but nevertheless maintains engagement until the true monster is revealed. Certainly one of the key creature-features of its halcyon era and recommended viewing for even the casual admirer.
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