You know, I was going to try and pick another great classic sci-fi movie to watch today, but then I watched a bunch of giant insect movies and that just got blown out of the water. So instead, I decided to focus on this little gem of a movie. Now I first learned of this movie from the Attack Of The 50 Ft. Monstermania special that I own. That became a sort of a shopping list for me and I would try to buy, or at least watch, as many of the movies featured on that special but today’s movie eluded me for a long time. While I still haven’t managed to obtain a DVD of this movie, I am at least able to finally watch Monster From Green Hell.
The plot: As the U.S. prepares to send manned missions into space, Dr. Quent Brady and Dan Morgan send various animals into space in order to test survival rates among them. During their tests, one of their rockets malfunctions and they determine that it will crash some where off the coast of Africa. Some time later in a remote part of Africa, villagers bring a dead man to Dr Lorentz and his daughter Lorna, who run a clinic in the area, and ask if he can explain how the man died. After performing an autopsy, Lorentz says the man died of a massive dose of venom, though no known animal is capable of producing the quantities found in the dead man. Arobi, Lorentz’s assistant, says that it is the work of the monster from the volcano the natives call Green Hell but Lorentz dismisses it, saying the monster is nothing but a legend and something real must be behind this. Several months later, Brady sees a news article about the unrest in Africa, with people claiming to see monsters. He shows the article to Dan and tells him he believes that the wasps they sent into space on the missing rocket are behind this. Dan is skeptical about Brady’s theory but when Brady shows him a crab that is twice the size of it’s mother and explains that the mother had been exposed to cosmic radiation for only 40 seconds but the wasps would have been exposed for a much longer period of time. Brady and Dan head to Africa and when they arrive in Liberville, the territorial agent directs them to see Lorentz and arranges a safari, though Brady is frustrated at the slow pace he takes in getting things done. Meanwhile, Lorentz, Arobi, and two villagers head to Green Hell to see if they can discover what is killing people. As they split up, the two villagers are killed by one of the giant wasps and carried off. Lorentz and Arobi carry on and when they get close to the volcano, Lorentz goes on ahead, leaving Arobi behind in case he needs help. Back in Liberville, Brady and Dan argue over how big the wasps could be and whether they will need the grenades that Brady insisted on bringing. When their safari, guided by a man named Mahri, finally gets underway, Brady says that it will take them close to a month to travel the 400 miles to Lorentz’s clinic. After 2 weeks of travel, they hear the sound of native drums and Mahri says they are war drums. They continue through the jungle and are soon attacked by the natives, but manage to get away with minimal losses. Forced to change course, the safari now continues on through a section of waterless plains, causing many of the men, including Dan, to suffer from dehydration, but they are saved by a tropical rainstorm. As they continue on their journey, Brady is injured and eventually collapses but they manage to make it to Lorentz’s clinic, where Lorna is able to treat him. As Brady recovers, he learns that Lorentz had left to go find out what is happening and he waits for his return. A few days later, Arobi returns and tells Lorna that her father is dead, showing Dan and Brady part of the wasp stinger that was left in Lorentz’s shoulder. Brady and Dan decide to head to the volcano to deal with the wasps and Lorna argues to go with them but as they prepare to leave, Mahri informs them that the villagers have all left in fear. Lorna says that she is able to shame some of the men into going with them but as they make their way towards the volcano, they come across another village that is littered with dead bodies and the villagers all flee in terror. Brady, Dan, Lorna, Arobi, and Mahri continue on their way and eventually reach the volcano, where they hear the wasps’ buzzing the closer they get. Brady goes to check the volcano and sees the wasp queen and her soldiers inside the cauldron. Heading back to the others, they split up and throw the grenades into the volcano in an attempt to kill the wasps but the grenades only make them angry. The group is forced to run and take shelter in a small cave where the wasps can’t reach them. Brady uses the remaining grenades to seal the cave and they explore the tunnels to find another way out. They eventually manage to find a way out, just as the volcano erupts and the emerging lava kills the wasps. As they watch the insects’ fiery demise, Brady contemplates how nature finds a way to destroy it’s mistakes.
Of the rash of giant insect movies that came out in the 50’s, this one didn’t really get a lot of recognition and for good reason. There really wasn’t anything remarkable or noteworthy about this movie. The acting was honestly a little stiff all around, with nobody really standing out, or honestly offering much emotion during any of their parts. The story was pretty decent, taking the excitement of space exploration and the space race that was occurring in the real world at the time, and adding everyone’s favorite mystery substance, “Radiation”, this time of a cosmic variety, to make for an interesting idea for some monsters. The monsters themselves looked too fake to really be scary, which might be why you barely saw them during the whole movie. In fact, a large portion of the movie focused more on Brady and Dan’s safari to reach Lorentz’s clinic than the actual monsters themselves. If anything, this can be used as a sort of breather while binge watching some of the other, and definitely better, giant insect movies of the era.
Rating: 2 out of 5