Monster Mash

A Dark and Scary Place

1950s Monster B-Movies: Introduction


1950's Monster B-Movies are very much a product of their time. In a sense it is lucky they are as, without that general feeling of paranoia throughout the populace (particularly in America where the vast majority of these were made), we wouldn't be able to look back and marvel at the immense enjoyment these low budget films induced.

The then fear of imminent annihilation at the hands of the H-bomb and atomic war seeped into the poors of the smaller studios... and even some of the larger ones. Expected reality was to be instigated by the realms of science fiction. In other words, anything that could be imagined was given its roots in atomic testing or other science pushed beyond the wall of morality.

The Cold War was also a factor; this meant 'Reds Under the Beds' mentality became a fear of all outsiders. This worked to the industry's favour. After all, these were supposed to be scary movies. Accordingly, nearly all aliens were bent on invasion or destruction. Even those appearing to be benign had either ulterior motives or threatened reprisals if we didn't change our ways. Any mad science came back to bite us on the bum - including a succession of giant animals or people. For example, Godzilla rose from the depths severely miffed by noisy atomic testing.

Many of these films share a similar format in that the heroes are normally military men or young experts in their field, there is often a professor present, and the romantic interest for the hero is most commonly the professor's beautiful daughter.

Concepts became increasinly bizarre and querky. It seemed very little escaped being opened to manic exploration. That suited some people fine; some actors secured regular (if not well-paid) work, and many producers managed to sell their finished project to a major studio for a reasonable profit... before going off to film something even more crazy.

What makes these films work so well is that they are played straight, and so all the more funny in the case of the bad examples. This period rolled out films so bad they are good, films so bad they are awful, but also a handful of timeless classics.

The scores I have given for these movies are relative to each other, rather than to the reviews in other categories. I have to say I'm enjoying immensely the re-watching of these films. It requires only three words to sum up Sci-Fi Monster Movies from this period: Fun. Fun. Fun.