Eunice does The Beast of Yucca Flats

“Don’t you be playing with coyotes.”

The Scoop: 1961 NR, directed by Coleman Francis and starring Tor Johnson, Bing Stafford, and Barbara Francis.

Tagline: Commies made him an atomic mutant!

Summary Capsule: A narrator narrates while Tor Johnson wanders around the desert and backwater cops shoot at tourists.

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Eunice’s Rating: Eunice. Noted Mutant. Not yet caught by the whirlwind of Progress. Pop in a DVD. Things happen. A reviewer becomes bored.

Eunice’s Review: You know, I love those “A Billion Public Domain Movies for $2.00” packs. You never know when you’ll find some diamonds in the assorted rough, and, MST3k fan that I am, some just plain hilarity.

That’s how I came to own my copy of Beast of Yucca Flats. While it’s true that I paid about a penny for it, I have to say that’s one red cent I want back. Allow me to elaborate.

We open with a woman toweling off after showering (apparently with her shoes on), who then gets strangled, and then something (that I suspect I really don’t want to know) is done with/to her corpse.

This has nothing to do with anything. Honestly just forget it ever happened.

BoYF stars that paragon of screen acting Tor Johnson. As the narrator explains he’s a, noted, scientist of… something, who defected from… somewhere, is meeting blah spies blah Yucca Flats blah guns blah blah blah atom bomb. Basically he ends up accidentally walking into a nuclear testing site (whoops!) and instead of growing fifty feet or becoming a hybrid with an insect he becomes a serial strangler zombie type thingamajig.

The narrator then points us in the direction of Officers Jim and Joe, and their life motto of “shoot first ask questions later.” And then something something something…

And then we get some more mad hot narrating about a family vacationing in the wrong place at the wrong time when their car breaks down and… zzzzzzzzzzzzz….. *thunk*

Oh sorry, must’ve dropped off there.

Known best for being featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, it’s one of those post-Atomic Age drive-in B movies of the fifties and sixties. BoYF is definitely at the bottom of that particular barrel.

It’s a bad movie. And not a “so bad it’s good” bad movie. It lacks the charm and heart of, say, an Ed Wood movie, where you can tell it’s someone’s baby. It lacks the energy or life to make a good party movie (and yes, I’ve tested this).

I’m not saying it isn’t funny at all. Some of the, very few, lines are hilarious (which is mostly the delivery, and unfortunately cannot be done justice in the Groovy Quotes section), the randomness of the girly scenes, the nonfatal fatal wounds. What I’m saying is there’s just not enough here that justifies suffering through 54 minutes of monotone narration. 54 minutes that feel like they will never end. I mean cure for insomnia boring.

While I like me some bad movies, it’s just a bad bad movie.

Now I know BoYF has a pretty strong following, and I can see why, really I can. And I don’t know much about Coleman Francis, and this is the only movie of his I’ve seen. And, I really do feel like I’m being too harsh. But, to me, it’s just some cheap random footage of people who can’t act running (or standing or shambling) around the desert that was then spliced together by someone who couldn’t direct or edit for an even cheaper buck.

I enjoyed it much more with the silhouettes of a man and his two ‘bots and edited down to only the funniest bits. Undiluted? I’d call it a train wreck, but it’s more like watching a toy train’s batteries slowly die and then it topples over with a dull “thud.”

Unless you’re looking to boost your cult movie street cred, leave this one in the rough.

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Intermission!

  • Really, the opening is completely irrelevant.
  • I’m pretty sure Narrator is trying to get somewhere, but, to be honest, Rocky Balboa makes more sense when he philosophies than this guy.
  • Those dirty thirsty pigs!
  • Which is funnier, the police randomly shooting at people from the helicopter or the the Mom? Discuss.
  • This film was shot without sound. To avoid having to sync a lot of the sound during post production, the actors would turn away from the camera when speaking or cup their hands over their mouths when shouting.
  • According to producer/actor Anthony Cardoza, the rabbit at the end was actually a wild baby bunny who wandered into the shot unscripted. Tor Johnson improvised and kissed the bunny.

Groovy Quotes

Narrator: Joseph Javorski. Noted scientist.

Narrator: Touch a button. Things happen. A scientist becomes a beast.

Narrator: Nothing bothers some people. Not even flying saucers.

Mom: Don’t you be playing with coyotes.

Narrator: A man runs. Someone shoots at him.

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Heather does Food of the Gods « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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