The Monolith Monsters (1957) – Film Review

monolith monsters film review bluray

Director: John Sherwood
Cast: Grant Williams, Lola Albright, Les Tremayne

Certificate: PG

By Roger Crow

There’s an effects shot in It Came From Outer Space which proved invaluable for the makers of this little remembered sci-fi yarn. Made on a tight budget, re-using Clifford Stine’s effects shots saved the production a fortune.

monolith monsters film review coverThat familiar scene involves a giant meteor which crashes to Earth and the fragments begin to spread – turning everyone they come into contact with to stone.

“Macho heroics”

Aside from the now familiar tropes used in many similar movies, there’s also a chance to see one of the most famous fictional towns in film history. Not only did the Universal town square eventually turn up in Gremlins, but most famously in Back to the Future.

The yack track with Kevin Lyons and Jonathan Rigby is rather splendid, featuring plenty of top trivia and gentlemanly banter, which is a welcome change from some experts who talk ten to the dozen, or even worse, just state the obvious (Arnold Schwarzenegger on Conan the Barbarian being a prime offender).

The subtext of course, as with a lot of 1950s US sci-fi movies such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, is that these are communist rocks, as suggested on the commentary.

The cast is as solid as the antagonistic rocks, with the dreamy Lola Albright adding a much needed softer appeal to all the macho heroics.

The Blu-ray version looks terrific, with Ellis Carter’s crisp monochrome cinematography a treat for the eyeballs.

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“Golden era”

Made during a golden era for US sci-fi, such films used to be on TV all the time back in the day. That said, I’m amazed I’ve never seen The Monolith Monsters until now. Though it might not be up there with the best of the era, The Day the Earth Stood Still, it’s still a great watch.

Just a shame the villainous rocks don’t do much, expert grow and then fall over, and like so many films of that era, don’t live up to the thrills of the poster. (Fans of the original Superman movie will no doubt wonder if the crystalline entity later inspired the Fortress of Solitude, while the dam burst later feels like the third act of Richard Donner’s 1978 masterpiece).

It’s also a shame that ELO’s classic track ‘Turn to Stone ‘wasn’t included as a soundtrack extra, so feel free to turn the sound off at a key moment and add that via your smart speaker.

• Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase
• 1080p presentations on Blu-ray
• Disc One – Man-Made Monster and The Monolith Monsters
• Disc Two – Monster on the Campus (available in both 1.33:1 and 1.85:1 aspect ratios) • Man-Made Monster – Brand new audio commentary with author Stephen Jones and author / critic Kim Newman
• The Monolith Monsters – Brand new audio commentary with Kevin Lyons and Jonathan Rigby
• Monster on the Campus – Brand new audio commentary with author Stephen Jones and author / critic Kim Newman
• Optional SDH subtitles
• A Limited-Edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films included in this set by film scholar Craig Ian Mann
The Monolith Monsters is included on 'Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror', released on Blu-ray by Eureka, £29.99

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