For Reel

The Black Scorpion (1957)
June 12, 2016, 11:15 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Edward Ludwig
2 Stars
The Black ScorpionAs Hollywood is wont to do, the first response to the great success of Them! was to milk a new genre of Big Bug creature features, ignoring all that made Gordon Douglas’ masterpiece a classic and instead assuming it was merely the spectacle giant insects that made the film connect so thoroughly with audiences. The Black Scorpion isn’t the worst of imitations—as with Them!, it spends an admirable amount of time creating an atmospheric, mysterious tone before the monsters appear, and once they do they are animations supervised by the great Willis O’Brien. When, in the climax, a giant scorpion repeatedly pulls helicopters from the sky and stings them with its tail, the action has an incredible sense of weight and force to it, thanks in large part to how the scorpion’s body nearly folds in on itself during the movement. Fans of stop motion will also be delighted to see several other creatures that were leftovers from King Kong over two decades previous—one, a trapdoor spider, terrorizes a young boy. But The Black Scorpion proves the old adage that sometimes less is more. By the time the scorpions finally appear, they occupy nearly every frame of the picture. Even the most impressive creature won’t maintain viewer interest when it is meant to be gawked at for an hour straight. Similarly, the politics aren’t as rich as Them! (although the film does indeed champion the need for cooperation between disparate groups), and a romantic subplot is dead in the water.

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