Sunday, December 29, 2013

Beast From Haunted Cave, Inspiration for Alien

"Beast From Haunted Cave" from 1959 begs an important question.  Shouldn't there be a "the" in the title?  Oh well, at least it isn't missing the monster.  In fact, this monster will remind you of the alien in Ridley Scott's "Alien."  Whatever this 71 minute masterpiece is lacking, horrible, gruesome deaths are not among the missing.  If you thought Alfred Hitchcock's "North By Northwest" was the best movie to come out of South Dakota in 1959, this film may change your mind.
The plot:  A group of Chicago thugs headed by Alex (Frank Wolff) and Marty (Richard Sinatra...yep, his cousin) descend into a South Dakota ski resort.  Sheila Noonan (Gunsmoke, A Bucket of Blood) plays Gypsy Boulet, Alex' eye-candy.  They don't exactly blend, but they have a fool-proof plan to rob the town bank of it's gold supply.  The night before the robbery, Marty romances a bar-maid, Natalie (Linne Ahlstrand, July 1958's Playboy Playmate of the month).  Marty brings her to an abandoned gold mine where the two are beset by a giant spider-beast.  Marty escapes, but our Playmate endures the most excruciating, and prolonged death ever put on the screen at the hands of the blood-sucking beast.  The spider encases her in a web case and slowly sucks the blood out of her over a couple of days.
The robbery is successful, the next day, but the getaway is bumpy.  The gang hires a ski guide named Gil (Michael Forest, who is still acting at the age of 85) to take him to his cabin where they will wait for a plane to bring them, and the gold, to Canada.  Uh-oh!  Gil and Alex's main-squeeze fall in love.  The pipe-smoking Gil seems a better match, as Alex is old enough to be her grandfather.  On their trail, not the police, but the blood-sucking spider carrying the webbed sack with the half-alive Playmate (her mind now gone).  As the spider starts capturing gang members, Gypsy and Gil fall further in love.
Will Gill and Gypsy escape the hungry spider?  Will Frank Sinatra's cousin be spared a fate worse than death?  Will Alex find a woman his own age, or be sucked dry by the beast?  All these questions and more are answered in this flawed but nightmarish monster movie.  Sheila Noonan may not be an Eva Marie-Saint, but the acting in this film isn't bad.

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