This film ends our post-Cloverfield reviews of giant monster films past. It may be the first such film shot in full colour and one of the last projects to involve Willis O’Brien (though, sadly, not on effects). The plot involves a cowboy up against rustlin’ villains…. and one really big varmint.
Cast and Crew
Guy Madison as Jimmy Ryan
Patricia Medina as Sarita
Carlos Rivas as Filipe Sanchez
Mario Navarro as Panchito
Pascual García Peña as Pancho
Eduardo Noriega as Enrique
Julio Vilarreal as Don Pedro
Lupe Carriles as Magarita
Full credits available at the imdb.
Presently unavailable, though you can buy a poster at Amazon.com. The film isn’t much more animated.
An heroic gringo and his Mexican friends become involved with cattle rustlers, a female ranch owner, and a dinosaur.
I have to admire the oddball brilliance of combining these genres in ’56. Westerns were popular with kids in the era, and the same audience often likes dinosaurs
I address the film’s less-than-stellar writing and effects elsewhere, so I’ll pick on the narration. It interrupts on a couple of occasions to tell the audience we could figure out or things which a character could have passed along more effectively.
Originality: 4/6. Inserting a dinosaur into a western constitutes an original move, and the film also broke ground by showing us a colour dino. Everything else about the film manages to be incredibly clichéd. We have the heroic American cowboy, the fiery Mexican heroine, a comic-relief sidekick, an annoying kid, a treacherous villain, dumb-as-a-hay-bale henchmen….
Effects: 3/6. We wait for most of the film to finally see the dinosaur. Its brief appearance involve replacement animation rather than stop-motion. Several models exist of the dinosaur in different poses, and the technicians switch models rather than move a single articulated beast. It’s passable, but not terribly well-done. In order to save money, the film dispenses with the models when possible, and shows us close ups of advancing legs and feet. These shots unmistakably show a guy in very bad dino-booties.
Story 3/6. A clichéd, slow-moving period western is interrupted by a dinosaur. The mix has potential for a matinée/drive-in feature but fails because the story has been handled so badly.
Acting: 4/6. The actors give about average performances for a kids’ matinée feature from the 1950s.
Production 3/6. The film features passable colour shots of Mexico.
Emotional Response: 2/6. *Yawn.*
In total, The Beast of Hollow Mountain receives 22 out of 42.
The title recalls one of O’Brien’s first films, The Ghost of Slumber Mountain (1918).
Ray Harryhausen worked on a more successful cowboys ‘n’ dinosaurs film a decade later, The Valley of Gwangi (1969)