Beast of Yucca Flats [1961]

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Runtime: 56 minutes

Government security sure has gotten lax at nuclear test sites. It seems like any old defecting Russian nuclear physicist fleeing Soviet agents (who are oddly indistinguishable from American gangsters) can stumble into an A-bomb detonation by accident and turn into a bloodthirsty monster. (You think Stan Lee watched this film before creating the Incredible Hulk?) Meanwhile a vacationing family wanders through the desert as the cops hunt the atomic beast. Tor Johnson (an Ed Wood Jr. fixture) makes a superbly cheesy rampaging mutant, but the film really enters the Twilight Zone when the investigating cops mistake an innocent dad looking for his sons lost in the desert for their target ("Shoot first, ask questions later" is their motto). Supercheap cult director Coleman Francis shot this without sound, dubbing it all in later, and he clumsily cuts away from every actor as they start to speak to hide his handiwork. He hardly had to worry: the flat dialogue and wooden narration is almost absurd enough to distract viewers from his cinematic incompetence. In short, a masterpiece of zero-budget camp with an unbelievably surreal edge. --Sean Axmaker

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