Monday, October 19, 2015

Monster From Green Hell - Nightmares In Central Africa

By Steve D. Stones

With the success of Them in 1954, it was inevitable that a series of giant bug movies would soon follow on the big screen. Most were inferior efforts in comparison to Them. Monster From Green Hell (1957) is one of those lesser-known efforts that caters to an age of atomic fears.

Dr. Quentin Brady, played by Jim Davis of TV's Dallas, is a scientist who sends animal and insect test subjects into space to study the effects of cosmic radiation. One of Brady's rockets with a wasp specimen crashes in Central Africa in a region known by natives as Green Hell. The natives soon report seeing strange giant monsters in the area, but never specifically state they are giant wasps. These claims are dismissed as native superstitions.

Brady and his assistant Dan Morgan decide to track four hundred miles into Central Africa to investigate the claims. Along the way they encounter water shortage, dehydration, attacks from natives and a contaminated water hole. Soon they encounter a village wiped out by giant insects.

A lot of screen time is spent showing Brady, Morgan and their guides tracking through the African jungle. Although Brady and Morgan discover the source of the native's claims to be giant wasps, the creatures who appear on screen look nothing like wasps. They move very slowly and look more like a cross between a crab and a moth. The stop motion animation is a bit dated, but still makes the film fun to watch. One of the giant wasps even battles a giant snake towards the end of the film.

Brady and crew are eventually chased into a cave by one of the wasps. Dynamite is used to hold the wasps back from entering the cave, but instead traps the explorers in the cave. They find a way out just as a volcano in the area erupts and kills the nest of giant wasps.

Like the strange giant rat-bat-spider in Angry Red Planet (1960), the cult appeal of Monster From Green Hell may be in how the giant wasps are shown. They are not very convincing as wasps, but their strange appearance and slow stop motion animation adds to the appeal of the film.

The punk rock band The Misfits recorded a song entitled Green Hell in the early 1980s on their Earth A.D. album. The song was later covered as an homage by the Heavy Metal band Metallica in 1987. This song is likely inspired by Monster From Green Hell. Happy viewing.

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