The first movie to be filmed in ‘Regiscope’ (which promised to deliver ‘animation in depth’ but was a short-lived phenomenon), The Beast of Hollow Mountain is also notable for being the first-ever science fiction western. It’s based on a story by Willis O’Brien – who’s better known as the special effects genius behind the original King Kong – and an old Mexican legend. The film was also part-filmed in Mexico and features a largely Mexican cast. The only exceptions were Guy Madison (who was best known for starring in the TV series Wild Bill Hickok) and Liverpool-born Patricia Medina.
Madison stars as Jimmy, a rancher who’s puzzled by the mysterious death of some of his cattle in a swamp at the foot of Hollow Mountain. Local legend has it that the mountain is indeed hollow and is frequented by a monster. Jimmy, though, prefers to believe that the deaths are the work of a rival rancher, Enrique (Eduardo Noriega), who’s engaged to Sarita (Medina) but is jealous of her friendship with Jimmy. The truth emerges when Jimmy finds Sarita in a shack on the edge of the swamp, being terrorised by a 30ft tall prehistoric monster. The rancher must team up with his rival to try and defeat the beast.
Although nowadays there’s an undeniably camp B-movie appeal to The Beast of Hollow Mountain, the special effects were very convincing for the time, with the fight sequences between man and prehistoric beast a particular delight. Eat your heart out, Spielberg.
Mexico – USA | 81 minutes | 1956
Director: Edward Nassour, Ismael Rodriguez
Writer: Robert Hill, Jack DeWitt (based on a story by Willis O’Brien)
Guy Madison as Jimmy Ryan
Patricia Medina as Sarita
Carlos Rivas as Felipe Sanchez
Mario Navarro as Panchito
Pascual García Peña as Pancho
Eduardo Noriega as Enrique Rios
Julio Villarreal as Don Pedro
Lupe Carriles as Margarita
José Chávez as Manuel
Margarito Luna as Jose
Roberto Contreras as Carlos
Manuel Arvide as Martinez
and this just in
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