“The Beast of Yucca Flats” is many things, but none of those make it a good movie. What makes it so damn desolate?
As a horror fan, I have a pretty high tolerance for bad horror movies. Ideally, people should identify good aspects of any creative work. Of course, some projects make that very difficult, if not impossible. A good example is The Beast of Yucca Flats, which is simply a mess. Written and directed by Coleman Francis, this movie pretty much sucks. There it is. Usually I dance around making empty-headed critiques, but why mince words here?
Still, I have to ask: Am I being too tough on this film? The story is simple. A Soviet scientist named Joseph Javorsky (Tor Johnson) gets hit by a nuclear blast. It scrambles his mental circuits, he goes nuts and kills a few people, then chases two boys (Ronald and Alan Francis) around for a while. He is The Beast of Yucca Flats, basically. Also, the opening scene features a woman getting murdered, but it seems to have nothing to do with the rest of the movie.
You may think I missed a bunch of details, but not really. There are some “shoot first, ask questions later” cops (Bing Stafford and Larry Aten) who mistake the boy’s dad (Douglas Mellor) for the murderer, but it’s not too exciting, either. They are of little to no consequence, other than the fact that they slay the beast. That’s right, I feel no guilt for spoiling this turkey. Honestly, I can’t imagine this film being seriously enjoyed by anyone, especially not without the Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) commentary to humorously guide you along.
The Vaguely Interesting Narration
If I had to call anything about this movie positive, I’d say it’s the narration. It’s just so randomly strung together that, if you’ve recently been struck in the head, you might find it interesting somehow. In fact, based partly on the narration, I think the director’s intention was to make an absurdist masterpiece with sci-fi horror elements. One semi-famous narrative line: “Flag on the moon — how did it get there?” While pre-Beast Javorsky may have held space-race info ine his briefcase, that doesn’t provide adequate context for the narration, either. So what gives?
The Beast’s rampage is promoted as a byproduct of technological progress. Still, I’m not buying that, and I understand aspects of the Unabomber manifesto. I’d say The Beast of Yucca Flats is more a result of bad storytelling, bad production value and an attempt to tie everything together as something grander than it is, or ever could be.
Honestly, the worst thing about movies like this is that I want to like them. I want so much to like every cheesy movie I see, and to make the special claim of an oddball director’s misunderstood genius. I just can’t do that here. So, if you watch and enjoy The Beast of Yucca Flats, I urge you to respond to this article. I want to know what you liked about the film and why — that is, if you’re able to communicate ideas after seeing such mind-numbing fare.
What are your thoughts on The Beast of Yucca Flats? Let us know in the comments!