Monster movies reigned supreme in the 1950s. When it came time to put butts in seats and cars in drive-ins, producers would throw whatever they could together to crank out a couple of cheap thrills to release as a B-picture. Sometimes this lead to greatness in classics such as I Was A Teenage Werewolf and others it lead to Monster from Green Hell. Recently restored and released on Blu-ray by The Film Detective, is Monster from Green Hell worth a re-appraisal? In short: No.
It’s not great.
Picture and Audio
Do I have to do this?
Extras and Packaging
Like, seriously, no.
Okay, fine. You ever had a book report you really didn’t want to write? That’s how I felt approaching this review. I try my hardest to approach every film on its own merits, look for the good in everything. That’s really hard to do with this release.
Monster from Green Hell spins the cautionary tale of what should happen when man in all his hubris loads a rocket ship up with wasps and launches it into a cloud of cosmic radiation for science. Instead of the customary super stretchy, invisible, and flaming wasps one would expect, what results is instead a race of gigantic mega wasps who make their home in a volcano and threaten the people of Central Africa.
As far as cheap thrills go, Monster from Green Hell provides some of the cheapest. Take for instance the fact that the film takes place across Central Africa. This was done specifically because the filmmakers had access to footage from Spencer Tracy’s 1939 film Stanley and Livingstone, making it easy enough to write a story around the existing expedition footage and film new dialogue scenes similar to the Super Sentai to Power Rangers pipeline of the ‘90s.
Then you have the monsters themselves- Stiff wasp puppets, barely capable of movement let alone threatening an entire continent and crudely superimposed over the scenes they’re supposedly attacking. Take these elements, throw in a loose story duct taped together and strung along by constant narration and you have a movie that may best be suited as background noise while you do more important stuff.
Monster from Green Hell is presented with a 4k restoration by The Film Detective and is viewable in either 1.85:1 widescreen or 1.33:1 full screen. The restoration is decent and the black and white tone is consistent throughout. There does happen to be a surprising amount of scratching and debris left but nothing that ruined my viewing. On disc you’ll find a fifteen minute career retrospective on lead actor Jim Davis (no, not the Garfield guy) and a commentary track by comic book artist turned film professor Stephen R Bissette. Included in the clamshell is a booklet featuring an essay Don Stradley that covers mostly the same information found in Bissette’s commentary track. I tend to think of myself as a connoisseur of bad movies. Monster from Green Hell makes the unfortunate error of falling just short of being so-bad-it’s-good and lands with a thud squarely in so-bad-it’s-bad territory. Without much beyond a commentary track to sweeten the deal it becomes hard to find a place for this in my collection let alone recommend to anybody but the most hardcore of 1950’s giant bug movie enthusiasts.