THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS
The clear influence on The Monster of Piedras Blancas was the hit of The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). The monster, when eventually seen, looks very similar to The Creature not too surprising given that this films producer Jack Kevan worked on the design of the creature on that film. Like The Creature, the monster here is suggested as being of prehistoric origin. Just like The Creature, the monster has biologically improbable designs on heroine Jeanne Carmen. Irvin Berwick even conducts his own variation of the famous sequence from The Creature from the Black Lagoon where the Creature followed Julia Adams beneath the water as she swam, albeit on a much lower budget here Jeanne Carmen strips off on the beach to go swimming and we simply see the monsters claw come over the rocks to take her clothes. There is a later scene where Jeanne Carmen strips off to her underwear and gets into her nightgown, which is edited in a way that suggests that the monster is outside peeping in, before it bursts in and carries her off in its arms where we get the distinct impression that the sight of her in her underwear got it all worked up.
Irvin Berwicks director has the flat, pedestrianness that was common to many of the B movies of the era. The photography is drab. There is not a lot of subtlety to the film the fact that John Harmon has been tending the monster over the years is a surprise that is not too subtly signalled by his giving strange and fearful looks every time someone talks about going near the beach. The monster is kept off screen and in the shadows or we only get partial glimpses of it for most of the film it is not until the last ten minutes that we see it in full. Berwick does at least get one good shock off where Les Tremayne enters the freezer in the store, the camera stays outside as we hear a scream and then we get a half-shot of the monsters legs (the first we have seen it) as it emerges carrying a severed head in one hand.
Director Irvin Berwick did little else of distinction. He did make a couple of nudie films with Strange Compulsion (1964) and The Street is My Beat (1966), as well as the psycho film Hitch-Hike to Hell (1977). Screenwriter H. Haile Chace went onto direct the sensationalistic V.D. (1961) and the science-fiction nudie Paradisio (1962).
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