“The Monolith Monsters” (1957) is a sci-fi horror film directed byJohn Sherwood and produced by Universal Pictures. The plot of the film revolves around a meteorite that crashes in the desert area of the Southwestern United States, taking with it an extraterrestrial life form that manifests itself in the form of strange black stones.
Stones have a destructive effect on human life, as when exposed to water they dissolve into a rapidly expanding sort of sand, contaminating and destroying everything in their path, including humans.
The plot focuses on a group of scientists who try to find a way to stop the spread of contamination caused by stones. Tensions mount when Grant Williams’ character (a geologist) is accidentally contaminated and begins to turn to stone.
The film was well received by critics upon its release and is regarded as a classic of the science fiction genre from the 50s. In particular, the film is known for its spectacular scenes of destruction and the visual effect of stones dissolving into sand.
“The Monolith Monsters” opens with the discovery of a fallen meteorite near a city in the Southwestern United States. Once analyzed, the meteorite is found to contain a alien life form in the form of strange black stones, which have a destructive effect on human life.
During a severe storm, some of these stones are exposed to water and begin to dissolve, becoming a sort of sand that rapidly expands and destroys everything in its path, including humans.
A group of scientists, including geologist Dave Miller (played by Grant Williams), Dr. Rolf Ericson (Leslie Denison) and Dr. Lorna Thayer (Lola Albright), try to find a way to stop the spread of contamination caused by stones . Meanwhile, the city is evacuated as the stone epidemic spreads more and more.
While investigating, Miller meets Cathy Barrett (Virginia Leith), a young woman living in the Contamination Zone who is at risk of becoming contaminated. Meanwhile, Miller is accidentally tainted and begins turning to stone.
Tensions rise as things seem to get out of hand and the city is ever closer to destruction. Eventually, the scientists discover that the stones can be destroyed by sonar, and manage to save the city from total destruction. However, Miller’s life is still in danger, and scientists must find a way to save him from turning to stone.
Briefly, the plot of the film revolves around the scientists’ struggle to find a way to stop the spread of the alien stone contamination, and the struggle to save the city from total destruction.
Here are the main characters of the film “The Monolith Monsters”:
Dave Miller, played by Grant Williams: A geologist who is one of the protagonists of the film. Miller sets out to uncover the truth about the origin of the alien stones and tries to find a way to stop their contamination from spreading. He is accidentally tainted by the stones and starts turning into stone.
Virginia Leith as Cathy Barrett: A young woman who lives in the Contamination Zone and is at risk of being contaminated. Become an important ally for Miller in the fight against the alien stones.
Dr. Rolf Ericson, played by Leslie Denison: One of the scientific staff members trying to find a solution to the crisis.
Lola Albright played by Dr. Lorna Thayer: Another member of the scientific staff working on solving the crisis.
Ben Gilbert as William Flaherty: The local police officer who works with scientists to solve the problem.
Richard H. Cutting as Martin Cochrane: The director of the local museum who helps the scientists in their research.
Trevor Bardette played Harry Sherbourne: An old geologist who discovered the alien stones many years ago and who helps scientists find a solution to the crisis.
Steve Darrell played George Thompson: A farmer who is killed by the alien stones.
These are just some of the characters featured in the film, but there are other minor characters who contribute to the plot of the film as well.
“The Monolith Monsters” is a 1957 science fiction film directed by John Sherwood and produced by Universal International Pictures. The film was written by Norman Jolley and Robert M. Fresco, based on a story by Fresco.
Production of the film took place in Universal City, California, USA with a budget of approximately $300,000.
The film was shot in black and white, with the aim of reducing production costs. However, a process called “Spectrorama 70” was used, which allowed for very particular lighting and visual effects, making the images very atmospheric.
The cast of the film included actors such as Grant Williams, Lola Albright and Trevor Bardette, among others. The film was released in US theaters in October 1957, to positive response from audiences.
“The Monolith Monsters” is considered a classic of 1950s science fiction cinema, and has been lauded for its mysterious atmosphere and innovative special effects for the time. The film inspired several other subsequent science fiction films and had a significant impact on the genre.
Distribution and Reception
“The Monolith Monsters” was released in theaters in the United States on October 30, 1957. The film was a moderate success at the box office, grossing approximately $1.2 million on a production budget of $300,000.
The film was generally praised by critics for its mysterious atmosphere, innovative special effects, and original storyline. In particular, the film was lauded for its ability to build tension up to the conclusion, which left the audience in suspense.
However, some critics have criticized the script for some inconsistencies and a lack of character development. Overall, however, the response from audiences and critics was positive, and “The Monolith Monsters” became a classic of 1950s science fiction cinema.
The film was also released in several countries outside the United States, helping to spread his fame around the world. Even today, the film is considered an example of how a good idea and excellent execution can lead to a successful film with a great impact on the public.
“The Monolith Monsters” is a 1950s science fiction film with a distinctive style typical of this period. The film uses a visual language reminiscent of the tradition of gothic horror cinema and that uses twilight lighting and sound design to help create an eerie and eerie atmosphere.
In addition, the film uses innovative techniques for special effects, such as the “Spectrorama 70” process used to create the appearance of the alien stones. This technique made it possible to obtain very atmospheric and high-quality images, which helped make the film a classic of the science fiction genre.
The film’s score, composed by Irving Gertz, is also a hallmark of the film’s style. The music uses a combination of electronic and orchestral sounds, which contribute to the atmosphere of tension and excitement mystery.
Overall, “The Monolith Monsters” is one of the best examples of how 1950s science fiction cinema created a unique visual language, which inspired subsequent generations of filmmakers and left a lasting imprint on the genre.
“The Monolith Monsters” was directed by John Sherwood, an American director who was mainly active in the 1950s and 1960s. Sherwood worked for Universal Pictures on several genre films, including 1955’s Creatures from the Sea and 1953’s War of the Worlds, where he served as an assistant director.
Sherwood has directed only a few films in his career, but has worked as an assistant director on many other successful films, collaborating with directors such as George Pal, Jack Arnold and Robert Wise. He has also worked in television, directing episodes of several series such as ‘Perry Mason’ and ‘The Virginian’.
In “The Monolith Monsters”, Sherwood demonstrates that he has a good understanding of the science fiction genre and how to create an eerie and eerie atmosphere. His directing style uses innovative special effects techniques and a visual language that recalls the tradition of gothic horror cinema, helping to create a film that has become a classic of the genre.
While Sherwood was not one of the most well-known directors of his time, his work on ‘The Monolith Monsters’ demonstrated his ability to create impactful and influential films in the science fiction genre.