The Beast of Yucca Flats 1961, 54 minutes, B&W. Anthony Cardoza, Executive Producer, written and directed by Coleman Francis. Starring Tor Johnson as Dr. Joseph Javorsky. Cast includes Francis, Larry Aten, Bing Stafford and Conrad Brooks. Schlock-meter rating, 3 stars out of 10.
Few films are as inept as The Beast of Yucca Flats. After watching it, I'm convinced that a talented group of ninth graders with a few thousand dollars and a long weekend could do a better job than Tor Johnson, Coleman Francis and company. The plot? A woman is murdered. A defecting Russian scientist (Tor Johnson) is attacked in a desolate part of Nevada by communist agents. An atom bomb explodes. Tor is turned into a mutant beast who wants only to kill. Tor kills, then chases a hapless family through the Yucca Flats. Finally, two inept cops kill Tor.
Be forewarned: The preceding plot summary is far more exciting than this dog of a film. There is virtually no action, and when Tor is on the chase, his big, aging blubbery body inspires far more pity than fear. Francis shot the film without dialog, which was dubbed badly into the finished film. The viewer rarely sees lips move when actors speak. Also, the self-pretentious Francis adds ridiculous, over-the-top narration, spoken like a man on LSD. My favorite meaningless phrase is "Flag on the Moon."
It merits three stars only because The Beast is Tor Johnson, whose always fun to watch bellow. Those who dare watch it should see the MST3K version. At least there's a few laughs. (Doug Gibson speaking: I must admit, adding to this a few years later after originally writing the review, the film has grown on me. It is bad, but unique and strangely watchable; a real cult film. I give it an extra star!)
Notes: Ed Wood actor Conrad Brooks has a small role; Cult figure Titus Moody helped with production; Coleman Francis directed three films spoofed by MST3K: Beast, Skydivers, and Red Zone Cuba; Francis' wife and sons were in the film. The non-MST3K version has a very brief nude scene. "Beast of Yucca Flats" is essentially a silent film, with narration and brief dialog, obviously recorded since you don't see the speaking actors' faces. The entire film can be seen on YouTube and is part of the UEN Sci-Fi Friday cycle of movies.
-- Doug Gibson