Black Scorpion [1995]

Fans of '50s science fiction should be pleased by this "big bug" chiller, which offers a fine showcase for the talents of special effects master Willis O'Brien (King Kong). The Black Scorpion follows closely in the multiple footsteps of Them!, produced three years earlier by the same company (Warner Bros.)--again, giant insects threaten mankind, though here a volcano is responsible for unleashing them, and the metropolis in peril is Mexico City. Though direction, acting, and scripting aren't on par with Them!, O'Brien's title creatures (which sport implausible yet creepy faces) are memorably monstrous, especially during hero Richard Denning's visit to their nightmarish underground lair. Warner Bros.' DVD features a surprising amount of extras for an older title. "Stop Motion Masters" is a short tribute to O'Brien by his famed student Ray Harryhausen; also included is O'Brien's dinosaur-laden opening for Irwin Allen's The Animal World documentary, and legendary test footage for two unfilmed monster projects by O'Brien's assistant, Peter Petersen. --Paul Gaita

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