The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961) Review

Horrorific content by TE Simmons on December 06th, 2021 | Movie Review | Sci-Fi, Mutant, Creature, Police, B-Horror

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It’s about a defecting Soviet rocket scientist who gets caught up in a counter-espionage shoot-out and accidentally irradiated at an atomic test site.

The Beast of Yucca Flats was written, narrated, and directed by Coleman Francis (Red Zone Cuba (a/k/a Night Train to Mundo Fine) and The Skydivers) and stars Tor Johnson (Night of the Ghouls, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and Bride of the Monster) along with Douglas Mellor (Fanny Crosby) and Barbara Francis (the ex-spouse of the director) (The Skydivers).

Can a husky radiation-man-monster wander his way out of the desert?

The Beast of Yucca Flats Review

The tagline reads, “Commies made him an atomic mutant!” but the test nuke presumably was detonated by American forces – all of whom were firmly opposed to Stalinist doctrine. So, shouldn’t the tagline have read, “Anti-commies made him an atomic mutant!”?

The film opens with some gratuitous nudity and a strangling which has nothing to do with any of the action which follows.

It’s certainly a disorienting film. Some critics condemn The Beast of Yucca Flats as the worst horror film ever. Admittedly, it does suffer from some continuity errors (such as scenes which switch from day, to night, then back to daylight again). The film budget did not allow for sound recording during filming; boom operators for the mostly outdoor cinematography would have been cost prohibitive.

It’s acted like a silent film – but actors don’t even mouth their lines. Instead, whenever a character speaks, we cut to a non-speaking character. Or a long shot is used. Or the camera remains outside a structure after the actors enter it. That way, the lines could be dubbed in later without matching mouth movements to dialogue.

The narrator’s lines themselves are plucked out of nowhere. “Boys from the city – not yet caught by the whirlwind of progress. Feed soda pop to thirsty pigs.” What?!

After Dr. Javorsky is caught in a nuclear blast, he becomes a murderous beast. He commits some murders. The police give chase. Eventually, law enforcement resorts to a light airplane to track him. Tor Johnson is perfectly cast although it’s a shame he wasn’t given any dialogue to show off his Swedish accent.

The film is surreal enough as it is, I suppose. If the chief aim of a director is to create celluloid that audiences want to watch, then by that measure The Beast of Yucca Flats is outstanding. No one is bored with a viewing – the eyes are simply riveted to the screen. This a film made by outsiders with no previous experience. It’s gonzo filmmaking.

Worth Watching?

Certainly, I think so, but very few legitimate critics would agree with me.

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