Movies From the Black Lagoon


By Tom Doty

The space program is to blame when a pair of wasps are launched into orbit only to return as mutated giants in this Sci-Fi quickie from the fabulous fifties.

The mutated bug flick was on its way out of fashion when cheapjack producer Ed Zimbalist concocted this bug-fest. It all starts with a pair of bonehead scientists(Brady and Morgan) conducting experiments on life in a vacuum. They have been at it awhile and are now sending wasps, monkeys, and guinea pigs into the void. The idea is to see how life is affected before we send men into the great beyond(at least these chauvinists didn’t hit on the idea of launching a few women for the same reason).

They lose contact with the rocket stranding it in space for 40 hours. They theorize it will land in Africa but have no way of tracking it and just hope for the best. Meanwhile a doctor, Lorentz, in an African village is dealing with strange reports of animals fleeing an area the natives refer to as ‘Green Hell.”

The good doctor goes off to investigate. Brady and Morgan hear about the reports of monster sightings and repair to the dark continent. The local ambassador suggests they stop at Doctor Laurents’ village on the way to ‘Green Hell.” Unfortunately the men take a slow safari and are waylaid by hostile natives, poisoned water, and monsoons.

By the time they do arrive the good doctor is dead, after deciding to check out the reports himself rather than spend half the movie waiting for two scientists who were too cheap to rent an airplane. This works out well for Brady who is more than happy to console the doctor’s fetching daughter.

The group head out with plenty of grenades and eventually find the wasp nest. They surround the hive and toss pineapples at it. The explosions cause a fair amount of smoke but only rile the wasps enough that they chase our heroes into a nearby cave. Brady gets the bright idea to scare them away by tossing another grenade and only succeeds in causing a cave in. They reach an exit just in time to catch “Mother Nature” step in and take out the bugs with a natural disaster.

This one is really quite amusing with its clueless heroes who start the ruckus then spend the whole movie trying to get there only to sit back and watch as their problem is taken care for them. The village doctor comes off as more courageous. That said the best sequence involves Brady and Morgan on safari but the footage is actually lifted from 1939’s “Stanley and Livingstone.” That probably explains why they wear safari outfits that were passé by 1958 but dead matches for those worn by Spencer Tracy in that flick.

The bets bits involve the wasps. They could only construct a giant head for the close ups but it is suitably creepy. There is also a crackerjack sequence wherein a wasp attacks a giant snake. Implausible but a lot of fun and reminiscent of similar battle from ‘King Kong” and ‘The Lost World.” It only runs an hour and ten minutes too so you won’t feel like you missed too much while you zoned out to this cheez factory.

Best Lines: “He followed a trail into Green Hell.”

“Does an elephant run from superstition.”

‘Instinctively I knew something was going to happen.”


By Tom Doty

Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.

Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.

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