The Monolith Monsters

What could be more terrifying than an onslaught of gigantic killer rocks from outer space?  Well, practically anything you could think of, so when Universal-International offered The Monolith Monsters to an already-saturated monster audience in 1957, the studio added a more personal danger to augment the horror of these oversized rocks, just as they had done with Tarantula’s acromegalic scientists and It Came From Outer Space’s humanoid zombies.  In director John Sherwood’s The Monolith Monsters, humans coming into contact with the alien crystals slowly turn to stone as silicon is drained from their bodies.

By no means a science fiction classic, The Monolith Monsters is better than most monster movies of the era, and its theme of “man vs. stone” is a novel one, although it coincidentally shared that theme with the same year’s Night The World Exploded from Columbia.  The atmospheric The Monolith Monsters stars the sadly-underused Grant Williams (The Incredible Shrinking Man) as a U. S. Interior Department geologist who tries to unlock the mystery of the multiplying monoliths before they reduce Universal’s studio lot town to rubble.

The weakest part of this enjoyable outing is the screenplay by Robert M. Fresco and Norman Jolley, which relies on far too many coincidences.  Just try counting the number of times the rocks “accidentally” come into contact with their growing agent:  water.  But most audiences don't watch sci-fi films for their plausibility -- they watch them for their thrills -- and The Monolith Monsters provides plenty of them.  The exciting special effects by Clifford Stine’s department are quite convincing, and the high-speed photography of the growing, toppling monoliths is a singular image in all of science fiction cinema.  The Monolith Monsters is a minor sci-fi film, but even Universal's lesser efforts are usually more rewarding than other studios' bigger-budgeted science-fiction releases.

To learn about The Monolith Monsters’ outstanding music score by Irving Gertz (with assistance from Herman Stein and Henry Mancini), click HERE.

 

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