• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

The Monster That Challenged The World

TITLE: The Monster That Challenged The World

YEAR: 1957

GENRE: Science Fiction

By the mid-1950’s there was a wave of film featuring giant bugs, reptiles, and other assorted monsters filling the screens at drive-ins all over the country  There were a few memorable ones, but most of them were downright terrible and are fodder for the MST3k fans who like to do their best to shred a project. Although not a rotten production by any stretch, The Monster That Challenged The World would not rank among the great films from the Atomic Age of science fiction yet does have some acceptable elements.

An earthquake under the Salton Sea opens a fissure in the floor of the sea. Out of the fissure arises a group of mollusk-style monsters that have been trapped since pre=historic times. Lieutenant Commander John Twillinger (played by Tim Holt) is the man in charge of the investigation of the alleged sightings and works with a group of military personnel including administrative assistant Gail MacKenzie (Audrey Dalton) to investigate. Once they discover that there are indeed giant monsters terrorizing theCaliforniacoastline it is up to by the book Lt. Cmdr. Twillinger to save the day against the giant, carnivorous beasts. Will the beaches once again be safe for fishing and swimming, or will the bugs from the dinosaur era take over the world?

As expected with a small budget 1950’s film with a limited budget, The Monster That Challenged The World uses a fair amount of stock footage that slows down the story a bit. Scenes of action on military bases and people frolicking on a lakefront are peppered throughout the production to lengthen the film and unfortunately it shows through as some of the stock footage does not match the quality of the rest of the film. Screen writers David Duncan (Fantastic Voyage, The Time Machine (1960)) and Pat Fielder (The Return Of Dracula) insisted on creating a romantic interest between Lt. Cmdr. Twillinger and MacKenzie, which was standard in 1950’s sci-fi but also completely unnecessary and does not add to the storyline at all. On the positive, there is a hilarious scene where Twillinger visits a morgue and is offered a sandwich which the mortician removes from a cooler containing a corpse and promises “it’s nice and cold”. The monsters are also pretty impressive considering the small budget although it is clearly a guy with a plaster of Paris costume. In addition, the acting chops are better than most 1950’s sci-fi films and does help make the film watchable.

Director Arnold Laven is mostly remembered for his work as a producer in western television series such as “The Rifleman” and “The Big Valley”. Although not obligatory viewing, The Monster That Challenged The World is an acceptable yet flawed production that is rainy day afternoon viewing for those who appreciate the history of science fiction. The use of original material instead of stock footage would have helped tremendously and a less traditional storyline would have made The Monster That Challenged The World more memorable.

* * 1/2

–Mark

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