Recently released to Blu-ray from Olive Films comes the 1958 creature feature “classic”, The Monster of Piedras Blancas, a shamelessly inspired Creature from the Black Lagoon follow up produced by Jack Kevan, who worked in the manufacturing of the original Gill-man suit on Universal’s superior film. I’ll preface this review with some information; other than Hitchcock, I don’t generally touch much pre-1960 cinema, I appreciate the historical aspects, but just don’t find the films themselves that interesting. So with that being said, my expectations going into The Monster of Piedras Blancas were quite minimal.
The Movie (1.5/5)
Disappointingly, even going in not expecting much, The Monster of Piedras Blancas still felt like slog to sit through. The film can just simply be described as boring; it moves at a slug’s pace, with characters rehashing the same discussions about the monstrous legend over and over again. At only 71 minutes the film is an hour of the same exposition over and over with about 10 minutes of what is supposed to be an exciting climax. Everything else is presented to just fill in the time.
Fun fact: The Monster of Piedras Blancas was directed by Irvin Berwick who continued to produce movies after he directed this including his son Wayne Berwick’s film, The Microwave Massacre.
I’d say it’s a movie where a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 or a RiffTrax commentary could enhance the viewing experience, though The Monster of Piedras Blancas isn’t necessarily “funny bad” either. It is amateur hour film making, but never offensively bad enough to be entertaining to watch in any aspect. The monster suit itself is extremely silly looking, and he moves like WCW’s The Yeti leading to some true unintentional hilarity, like goofy rubber hands stealing clothing on a beach, or his dopey shadow lurking outside of a storefront. The Monster of Piedras Blancas could be much more enjoyable if it featured more of the terrible monster and less of the boring townsfolk denying its existence.
Just like the film itself, there is nothing offensively terrible about the transfer provided here by Olive Films. Picture clarity gets the job done, but not without scratches throughout and a few bits of annoying grain during darker scenes. This would all be much more forgivable if the movie was interesting to look at, but it is all just very flat and plain. All in all though, it’s a solid enough transfer for what the source material is, and fans of the film should appreciate that this exists on Blu-ray at all.
The Monster of Piedras Blancas is presented in what I can only assume is Mono 1.0, yet somehow it was the most enjoyable aspect of the film for me. I was into the classic crackling sound of the dialogue and thought the score was enjoyable in an extremely cheesy sort of way. I suppose I actually enjoyed the sound mostly because it wasn’t that great and made me laugh. Oh well.
Olive Films keep their releases very streamlined, so while this release does come in a very solid case with some goofy artwork, that’s pretty much all there is to see here folks. No inside art and no special features to be seen, unless you count English subtitles as a feature. Like much of the Olive Films catalog, it’s a bare bones release strictly to get a higher quality version of the film on a disc. It’s serviceable at the very best.
The Technical Stuff:
1080p High Definition presented in 1.78:1
Black & White
The Verdict (2/5)
While The Monster of Piedras Blancas is sure to garner some interest from fans or horror film history buffs looking for some deeper tracks, I really cannot give this a recommendation to anyone else. It’s nowhere near as interesting or good as The Creature from the Black Lagoon but also doesn’t fail miserably enough to be funny or entertaining bad. The Monster of Piedras Blancas is incredibly mediocre even for its time, and there is nothing more tedious in film than being average. If you want to see a man running around in a goofy rubber suit there are much better picks for you to watch, like ZAAT! For everyone still interested, you can pick up your copy of The Monster of Piedras Blancas on Amazon right now.
Note: This Blu Ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.