You'll find that these films are
of roughly the same vintage. We won't be discussing Jaws
or Tentacles or Orca or Anaconda.
And the B Monster reserves the right to ignore any title
that begins with the words "Peter Benchley's ... "
10. Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956)
The Milner brothers, the production team responsible
for this tedious outing, went on to produce at least one
unimpeachable cult classic, From Hell It Came, all
about a murderous walking tree stump with a snarling kisser.
Quality notwithstanding, at least that film had snarling,
murdering and walking. This film offers precious little
to hold an audience's attention. Cathy Downs and Kent Taylor
are convincing enough, but it's not their fault that nothing
much really seems to happen between one or two fleeting
shots of the murky submerged menace.
9. Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959)
This is the semi-gory saga of a Black Lagoonesque creature,
lured ashore by a lonely lighthouse keeper with scraps from
the local butcher shop. Don Giant Gila Monster Sullivan
and Jeanne Untamed Youth Carmen are the teen beach
rompers who ultimately prove the beast's undoing. A memorably
ferocious creature undermined by some interminably talky
8. She-Creature (1956)
The formidable femininity of Marla English is the main
attraction, but Paul Blaisdell, outfitted in his most flamboyant
costume, is likewise memorable. With snarling fangs and
bobbing antenna, this scaly She Creature also sports
flowing blonde hair and a set of Dolly Partonesque breasts.
The timeworn plot centers around second-rate Svengali Chester
Morris who is obsessed with Marla and resurrects her prehistoric
ancestor by means of hypnotic regression.
7. The Beach Girls and the Monster (1965)
Slapped together with spit and suntan oil under the
auspices of former matinee hunk Jon Hall, this one turned
up on TV occasionally as Monster From the Surf. To
keep his lackadaisical son from ignoring his studies in
marine biology, scientist dad dons a scrappy rubber suit
and sets about murdering twisting beach nymphs. Lots of
stale surf footage and songs by Frank Sinatra Jr.
6. Horror of Party Beach (1964)
This one's the coolest, kookiest, sandiest shindig on
the list. Filmed entirely on location in Stamford, Conn.,
Party Beach delivers the campy goods. Motorcycle
gangs, knockdown beach fights, a swingin' teen combo that
does "The Zombie Stomp," and mass-murdering amphibious
creatures with dentures made of wobbling hot dogs. Don't
dare miss this one.
5. It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955)
FX maestro Ray Harryhausen maintains that production
penny-pinching only allowed for a six-armed octopus. Take
a closer look, as the giant sea-beast wraps its snaky tentacles
around the Golden Gate Bridge. This flick's stop-motion
work is still a grabber even in these days of digitally-produced
demons. Hero Kenneth Tobey -- every casting director's idea
of a no-nonsense military man -- takes charge as thousands
stampede the city streets, fleeing a creature that can't
even follow them on land.
4. Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)
This film's admirable ingenuity and sultry soap opera
subplot disguise the fact that it is unrelentingly grim.
The big grunting slugs carry their victims to an underwater
lair to feed on them at their leisure. Bulky Bruno Ve Sota
as the cuckolded husband of tempting tart Yvette Vickers
delivers screenwriter Leo Gordon's dialogue with tenderness
and conviction. Despite the movie's cheapness, its sweaty,
swampy atmosphere is quite palpable.
3. Atomic Submarine (1959)
What a cast! Arthur Franz, Tom Conway, Dick Foran, Bob
Steele -- this must be an Alex Gordon production! The entertaining
band of veterans is hot on the trail of a suspicious alien
craft hiding beneath the polar ice cap, using the earth's
magnetism as its source of power. Franz has it in for young
pacifist Brett Halsey, but in the end, hatchets are buried,
teamwork prevails and the saucer's pilot is exposed as a
hairy, wormy, otherworldly cyclops.
2. Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)
You'd think that gigantic, murderous crabs would be
scary enough. But these flesh-craving crustaceans possess
the power of speech and the ability to absorb the thoughts
of their devoured victims. By night, they stalk the island-bound
survivors, calling to them with the voices of the dead.
Lovely Pamela Duncan and hunky Richard Garland lead a cast
that includes Ed Nelson doing double duty as the various
1. Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)
Defeating all challengers, the original Gill Man as
portrayed by big Ben Chapman stands fin and shoulders above
the competition. Producer William Alland and company fashioned
not only one of the 1950's most identifiable film icons,
but one of the most vividly realized characters in all horror.
As enjoyable today as in its original 3-D release nearly
50 years ago.