Saturday, September 22, 2012
The Black Scorpion (1957)
I remember the day so well. It was down in
the last day of Fantastic Film Festival. Me, Markus Widegren and Anders Östlund
was there to show a movie we made (Kraftverk 3714 by the way) and we decided to
check the town a little bit before hitting the train. My economy was very bad
at this time but that didn't stop me from buying The Black Scorpion at a record
store - I just needed it! Moments later we where sitting on a restaurant to
grab a bite and then I understood I spent the rest of the money I had on that
damn DVD. No money, at least three-four weeks until I was having money again.
My nice friends helped me so I could eat and I never regretted buying The Black
Scorpion that day! Since then it's become one of my all-time favourite monster
movies and we should be happy it ever got made, because it was not only my budget
that disappeared, theirs to - which left some interesting traces in the movie
itself. But more to that later... Lund
The action-quota in The Black Scorpion is huge. The first half hour is quite slow - but not in a bad way - but when the scorpions finally attacks a Mexican village (after eating a couple of telephone technicians in cool sequence) it's all monster-action to the end. In fact, this movie is like the dream of a ten year old boy: there's monsters, more monsters, different monsters, a couple of spectacular set-pieces and the scorpions are drooling! Yeah, a lot. It could be called "The Drooling Scorpion (with bulging eyes)" actually! Much of the epic look of the movie comes from the brilliant work of special effects visionary and animator Willis O'Brien (known for creating King Kong and several other classics). In one of the coolest sequences he even uses the trapdoor-spider that originally was used in King Kong (but cut), so it's an unique look at a monster that's more or less kinda lost - except in this movie. It's very well-made and the animation, especially the ultra-cool train-scene is among the best work I've seen O'Brien do.
Aren't we all fond of the stylish, not all the time so realistic acting in these movies? I think so, especially the traditional kiss between the loving couple - two pair of very firm lips pressing hard against each other totally lacking that important sensual and sexual tension. It's never convincing and it will never be and it will always look silly, but it works fine in movies like this. What's fun with the casting is that they've actually used Mexican actors to play Mexicans, except Mara Corday as the almost-not-helpless ranch-owner Teresa Alvarez. But strange enough, the accents still sounds fake!
No, I can't blame The Black Scorpion for being a smart movie. The total opposite actually, like they just didn't give a fuck about the science - not even the patented Pretend-O-Science that flourished in these movies. Maybe some of it was cut or never filmed because of the severe budget problems, but I have a feeling they just wanted to make a fun adventure romp that ends with military tanks battling a gigantic scorpion in a sports stadium. Don't we all wanna see stuff like that? Oh, the budget problems? Well, it's very visible during the attacks against the small village and
- we just see black silhouettes of the scorpions
running around, like black shadowy ghosts! They could never afford to actually
add the stop-motion puppets into the footage! This looks weird, but after a
while you get used to it and every close-up is an awesome animatronic (and
drooling) head of the scorpion anyway. Mexico
Yeah, The Black Scorpion is one of those monster movies from the fifties that actually delivers what the promises. There's a lot to love here - monsters and mayhem, stop-motion beasts and rubber-creatures. It's one of the few films that makes the dream of a ten year old Fred become reality.