The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961) DVD / Blu-ray

By: Oberst von Berauscht (A Toast) –

Take your first beer, pour it in a fine pewter tankard, and drink a toast to independent cinema. The only good beer this film deserves is for the mere fact that it exists. Completed on a seemingly nonexistent budget, the plot involves nuclear scientist Joseph Javorsky (Ed Wood alumnus Tor Johnson) being transformed into a monster due to a nuclear test. (Of course the only actual physical change that occurs in Tor is his facial expression, and some gore effects based on a budget apparently high enough to afford glue and Rice Krispies.

Tor Johnson, The Best of Yucca Flats

The neck goes Snap, Crackle, and Pop

Beer Two

You’ll be downing the second beer the moment it becomes clear that this film has no actual dialog. All of it was dubbed in the studio well after filming, and since we never actually see lips move while actors are talking, it can be safely assumed there was no script either. There are scenes where entire conversations are held between people whose faces are never shown.

desert, The Beast of Yucca FlatsBeer Three

That is not to say the film is silent.In fact, The Beast boasts a narrator whose nonsensical ramblings boarder on sadistic.He takes every chance he can to comment on the events, often to no obvious purpose.Some of my favorite quotations: “Flag on the moon. How did it get there?”; “Boys from the city. Not yet caught by the whirlwind of Progress. Feed soda pop to the thirsty pigs.”; and the philosophical “Touch a button. Things happen. A scientist becomes a beast.”

Beer Four

Have a third beer to celebrate the stellar method performance of Tor Johnson.Just as Robert DeNiro has been known to study for months to enter the mind of his characters, even altering his physical appearance drastically, so did Tor spend tens of minutes preparing. All that work making his face look slightly different from the expression he used in Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Tor Johnson, The Beast of Yucca FlatsIs not the same as

Tor Johnson screaming, The Beast of Yucca FlatsBeer Five

From stunning vistas, to rocky mesas, to bluffs, buttes, mountains, and the sun setting on the horizon, the cinematographer manages to accomplish the masterful task of rendering the American Southwest totally uninteresting.Lingering for minutes on end on ugly cars and shitty nonfactors, it is entirely possible the filmmaker was making a bold statement about the monotony of existence.It is equally possible the filmmaker simply had no script, no original ideas, and no concept of framing shots, but nonetheless rented a camera that weekend.

Beer Six

The beginning of the film shows the beast entering a suburban home and murdering a naked woman in the shower, which would be fine, if the beast ever moved anywhere resembling a neighborhood, or even a home in the rest of the film.

Grilled Cheese zebrachicken painting... yeah...

Matt Forderer, 2002

This picture is relevant

In fact they go to great lengths to explain that the Beast’s killing ground was Yucca Flats, a nuclear testing ground in the middle of nowhere. A quick Google search revealed that the director shot the opening sequence after the rest of the movie. This marks a historical point in cinema, the first time a continuity error was added intentionally (presumably because the director had just seen Psycho, and wanted to reference it… poorly).

Verdict

About as watchable as ten tons of nuclear waste (and about as useful).

 

Bonus Drinking Game

Take a Drink: Every time the narrator says “Joseph Javorsky”

Take a Drink: During all off-camera dialogue

Drink a Shot: Any time the narrator says “Flag on the Moon… How did it get there?”


 

About Oberst von Berauscht

Oberst Von Berauscht once retained the services of a Gypsy to imbue in him the ability to accurately describe the artistic qualities of a film up to seven decimal points. To maintain this unique skill, he must feast on the blood of a virgin every Harvest Moon, or failing that (and he usually does), he can also make a dog do that thing they do where they twist their heads slightly (you know, when they’re confused about something) at least a few times a week. I’ve gotten way off track here… The point is, Oberst is one of the website’s founders, so… yeah

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