The Beast of Hollow Mountain
A horror beyond belief... breathing hate, death and destruction!
Year of Release: 1956
Also Known As: La bestia de la montana
Running Time: 79 minutes (1:19)
Director: Edward Nassour, Ismael Rodriguez
Guy Madison ... Jimmy Ryan
Patricia Medina ... Sarita
Carlos Rivas ... Felipe Sanchez
Mario Navarro ... Panchito
Pascual Garcia Pena ... Pancho
Eduardo Noriega ... Enrique Rios
Julio Villarreal ... Don Pedro
Lupe Carriles ... Margarita
An American rancher living in Mexico is staying near Hollow Mountain, an impenetrable swamp where, stories have it, dwells a living prehistoric Tyrannosaurus Rex!
The Beast of Hollow Mountain, remindin' us that you can marry for love, or you can marry for money, but if a dinosaur eats your fiance before the ceremony his life insurance policy still goes to his kids.
An speakin' of bein' swallowed by prehistoric maws, I'm real sorry about slackin' off lately but I only got released from Chickawalka General a coupla days ago after undergoin' treatment for dehydration, pneumonia, an a brief bout of paranoid schizophrenia. I know it sounds terrible, but Tetnis says the quacks in the ICU're overexaggeratin' a perfectly normal reaction to bein' locked in the trunk of a car for 74 hours, so I'm not worried about it.
This whole thing's Silas Tankersley's fault anyway, cause if he hadn't brought Neidhart to the drive-in I woulda never been tempted to tug on his beard til he jumped outta the truck bed an buried his horns in the Topaz tryna gore me through the gondolas. Mean ole crank mashed the fender in so far it started strippin' the tread off the tire an makin' a noise like a mouse caught in Chinese finger trap, an I wasn't about let an American classic go to pot on account of a grumpy old goat with bipolar personality disorder. It's moments like this that really test our mettle as human beins, an I want everyone to know that I handled the situation with dignity and diplomacy.
Anyway, once I finished peein' in Silas' gas tank after he'd gone to the concession stand I called up Bondo around 12:15 in the AM an calmly requested he open the gate to the salvage yard so's I could find a suitable replacement.
"Bondo! Thank cripes you're home, listen, my baby's been mutilated in a senseless act of violence at the hooves of a rampagin' billy goat an she needs a fender transplant!" I wailed.
"Yer what's been mutilated by a what? Who the HELL is this?! I gotta be up at 5:30 to pressure wash the elk chunks outta Marv Chintzley's grill so he won't overheat on the way to Phoenix; you can bring your... whatever it is in tomorrow afternoon," he grumbled groggily.
"It's the Topaz! An she can't wait til tomorrow! You haven't heard her anguished cries of agony when I turn 'er to the right Bondo, she's DYING!" I hollered hysterically, surrendering any and all haggling leverage I may have had.
"So pound it back into place and bring it in TOMORROW!" he groaned.
"Oh you'd like that wouldn't you, Dr. Mengele? What kinda sick--"
"ALRIGHT! Alright... the spare key to the gate's under a pile of radiator hoses inside a washer fluid tank in the backseat of the '58 Edsel parked next to the acetylene tanks," he mumbled.
"Isn't that a little inconvenient?" I asked, calming slightly.
"Yeh, but you can betcher whiny, triggered butt nobody's gonna find it in that Edsel," he said before pitchin' the phone across his bedroom.
Now, I don't wanna say Bondo's disorganized, but his lot covers roughly three an a half acres, an best as I can tell he sorts his rigs by the square root of the odometer readins; took me three hours to find another Topaz an I got lost so many times I was half expectin' a minotaur to pop out from behind one of the Studebakers an tear my head off.
It was a sun-bleached yellow color an mine's a sophisticated, dignified maroon, but I figured it wouldn't be too bigga deal to have a Hulkamania motif for a coupla days til I could get 'er painted. Only when I started pryin' the fender loose I noticed this growl creepin' up behind me an next thing I knew a Rottweiler the size of a bull moose comes tearin' after me tryna munch my kibbles 'n bits, an I had no choice but to jump into the trunk of a '71 Dodge Dart an hope he'd get bored an go find a Goodyear tire to eat.
Took about an hour but eventually I heard what sounded like Snarles Barkley stompin' off in disgust, cept all he'd actually done was climb into the bed of a nearby Jeep Honcho, an when I opened up the lid to look around he launched 'imself onto the trunk an came down hard enough to shatter the decades old 10W-30 bottle I'd been proppin' the lid up with an slam it shut.
Duke Tankersley an his ole bloodhound, Gank, finally found me three days later. Bondo claimed my Topaz'd been left there by somebody tryna ditch a hot vehicle but he's full of it. On the plus side though, he gave me the yellow one in exchange for not suing, an stoppin' Sadie Bonebreak from beatin' him to death with a tire tool, so now I'll have spare parts if the old girl develops another ailment.
You prolly don't wanna hear about that though, so I won't go into it. Fortunately I was able to wrestle the remote away from my roommate who was in the hospital for observation followin' an incident involvin' a case of Pole Cat beer an a porcupine, an since The Beast of Hollow Mountain was playin' on Comet I decided to get some work done while I recuperated.
I don't wanna over-hype it, but you should prolly be aware that it's the second greatest Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs flick ever to come out of a Spanish speakin' country, so you might wanna consider movin' it to the top of your viewin' schedule - I mean, unless you ain't seen The Valley of Gwangi. Hollow Mountain really can't compete with Gwangi cause Gwangi has James Franciscus makin' like Roy Rogers tryna corral an Allosaurus, an Hollow Mountain's only got Guy Madison makin' like Gene Autry tryna corral a Tyrannosaurus, so you can see how they aren't really the same. Still, they don't make flicks like these anymore, so lemme take this opportunity to give you a sample of the wisdom you stand to gain by poppin' this one in your VCR. First, it's really hard to catch an oath-bound 8-year-old when you're wearin' a parachute dress. Second, everyone loves Capitalism until somebody undercuts their pricing. An third, if you think two employers fightin' over who gets to employ the town drunk is a plausible economic scenario, you might be a Boomer.
The movie begins south of the border where a coupla cowboys (Jimmy an Felipe) are lookin' for some missin' cattle in the shadow of Erebor, til Felipe goes squishin' into a patch of quicksand an Jimmy hasta haul 'im out before his quatro sinkos. Then they find a dead steer buried up to its neck in the bog an Felipe starts jumpin' to conclusions an blamin' this big shot rancher named Enrique who musta promised to build a wall around the swamp an make America pay for it or somethin'. Bottom line though - they don't really know for sure what's goin' on, so Felipe suggests they head for town before their Jimmy gets rustled, only these pendejo chicanos start throwin' firecrackers at some drunk's horse an he ends up gettin' bucked off an dragged down Main Street like a loose tailpipe until Jimmy can correct the guy's wardrobe malfunction (in Mexico this is known as a serape mishap-e) an detach 'im. Then Jimmy goes to visit Don Pedro to ask 'im if there've been any reports of U.F.O.s abductin' cattle lately, only pretty quick Enrique shows up an starts complainin' about el Americano an the slave wages he pays that allow 'im to undercut Enrique at the market til Pedro hasta separate 'em an give 'em this "just you two wait until your mother gets home from the tortilla plant" look so they'll slink away. That might wella been the end of it, cept the next mornin' Jimmy an Felipe wake up to find a Dear Juan letter tacked to their bunkhouse sayin' all their hired hands're scared of the mountain an that they're goin' back to Tijuana where it's safe.
Fortunately the drunk (Pancho) an his little boy (Panchito) arrive to fill the openings an Jimmy decides to put 'em on staff even though Panchito's only about seven years old an the minimum age for 80 hour work weeks in Mexico is at least 10. Then this P.O.'d lady (Sarita) rides out to Jimmy's pasture to chew his hindero for poachin' her employees, til Panchito explains that they gotta repay their debt to Jimmy for savin' Pancho's life an how he hasta stick around cause he's his papa's AA sponsor an he's the only thing keepin' Pancho from ridin' into town an drinkin' a horse trough fulla tequila. Sarita eventually apologizes for bustin' Jimmy's huevos, but when it becomes clear her hot Latina temper is on the verge of ignitin' a brush fire her horse bolts an Jimmy ends up havin' to give 'er a lift back to town - even though she's engaged to Enrique an everybody for 1000 square miles is Catholic an the penalty for bein' seen with another man in public is 10 years of warmin' up the crowd at the bull fights. Naturally, when Enrique sees 'em rollin' into town together he goes apeshit an starts a brawl in the farmer's market where they use each other's faces to turn the entire week's avocado crop into guacamole, until Jimmy finally makes like Santo an monkey flips Enrique into the ceramic Virgin Mary figurine display to teach 'im some manners. Meanwhile Pancho's gone into the swamp to figure out where the beef is, but instead runs afoul of Tyrannosaurus Mex an gets turned into Pace Thick & Chunky, an by the time Jimmy an Felipe get a minute to go look for 'im all they can find is his hat an the scent of soiled pantaloons in the air. By this point Jimmy's pretty well had it with the 125 degree heat an the folks who're still sore about that whole Mexican-American War thing, so he decides to sell the ranch an go open up an oil preserve in Texas.
Elsewhere, Don Pedro's havin' a house party where 200 weirdos in papal mache pinata pope hats're lightin' off bottle rockets an practicin' their Japanese folk dancing for Sarita an Enrique's weddin', only this mean ole maid tells Panchito that his papi's a buzzard taco an that he needs to move on an do somethin' constructive like organizin' a cock-fighting ring to save for his future. So of course the kid takes off for the bog an leaves the wedding without a ring bearer; fortunately this gives Sarita the openin' she's been lookin' for to ditch Enrique Pugnesias for whiter pastures, only while she's chasin' after Panchito, the chili con Carnesaur's back at Jimmy's ranch pilferin' unprocessed cheeseburgers an startin' a stampede that's likely to result in the world's biggest impromptu rodeo clown tryout back at the villa. Things aren't much better in the swamp where the kid's barely able to avoid gettin' scarfed up like a Panchurro, before bein' rescued by Sarita an stashed in Jimmy's beer shed. This may not've been the best course of action, cause pretty quick Chomper, the Mexico City Stomper, installs a sunroof in the buildin' an starts flickin' his tongue out like Gene Simmons an gettin' more'n more P.O.'d about not bein' able to reach 'em with his tiny arms. I don't wanna give away the endin' here, but like any good Western, you know durn well Jimmy ain't just gonna saddle up an ride into the sunset without settlin' the score with Fraudzilla, so I'll just leave it at that.
Alrighty, well, if this flick'd been made by Roger Corman you'd probably assume the dinosaur element was added as an afterthought when the rest of the movie turned out a bit unremarkable, although hiding the monster for the bulk of the film was fairly standard in those days if you didn't have a Ray Harryhausen on hand producing state-of-the-art effects. It's 44 minutes before we get so much as a T-Rex silhouette, and 59 minutes (of a 79 minute runtime) before we finally get to see the dang thing, and that's just unacceptable. '50s monster movies really only work when the filmmakers aren't afraid to show their creature - whether that's because the critter is of impressive construction or because they have no shame is unimportant, but the audience needs to see it, and see it regularly, because they aren't there to admire the sparkling dialogue of the British babe you've hired to play a Mexican. The movie would have probably received better reviews at the time had they simply cut the dinosaur entirely and played it as a straight Western, though it would certainly have been lost to history without its unconventional gimmick. It's difficult to tell what kind of budget the film really had, because with the exception of the dinosaur effects and the cheesy sped up footage of the cattle, the production values are actually decent. It's also important to note that it's in color, despite being produced in 1956 when color film was still expensive and only just beginning to usurp black and white. This leads one to believe that the money for the stop motion effects might actually have been there, and that the director (who also did the special effects) might well have opted to do them himself for the bigger pay day, or more innocently, because he simply wanted to and the responsibilities of both directing and creating the effects overwhelmed him. Nassour did have previous special effects experience, having animated the monsters in The Lost Continent, and Godzilla Raids Again, so I'm not implying there was anything shady going on, but any way you slice it there's a pronounced dip in quality between the effects and the rest of the movie that really tanks it during what should be the most exciting portion, and that's a bummer.
In any event, what say we pick the steer shrapnel outta Rex's incisors and find out whether it's Grade A prime rib, or strictly anus beef. The plot, as is usually the case when you mash two incongruent themes together for the giggles, is pretty silly. It's basically a rehashed version of the Smaug scenario from The Hobbit when you get right down to it - slumbering beast is awakened by external forces, becomes quarrelsome, and starts munchin' the local populace. Of course, that doesn't happen until the movie is 75% finished, and until that time the monster really only serves as a plot device to stoke tensions between the feuding ranchers, which, depending upon your outlook, leads to a decent Western ruined by a dinosaur, or a monster movie that takes way too long to get started. Admittedly, this concept was always going to be a hard sell to anyone exercising even the smallest degree of skepticism, but I just think they played it way too seriously instead of making it goofy and fun, as was done rather effectively in The Valley of Gwangi. The acting on the other hand is pretty good, and much better than you're probably used to seeing in low budget Horror/Science Fiction/Fantasy flicks of the '50s. Our hero is a little wooden at times, but Patricia Medina comes off as sympathetic and likeable, Eduardo Noriega plays a great heel, Pascual Pena pulls off the comic relief character endearingly, and Mario Navarro, while obnoxious at times, might well give the most believable performance of the cast as the little boy forced to grow up too fast as a result of his father's alcoholism. Fine performances all around, so much so that it kinda bums you out knowing a pitiful stop motion dinosaur's eventually gonna show up and render it largely wasted - the fight choreography and "forgive me, when a man is in love he is not himself," line not withstanding.
Here's who matters and why: Guy Madison (The Devil's Man), Patricia Medina (Phantom of the Rue Morgue), Carlos Rivas (The Black Scorpion, Tarzan and the Valley of Gold), Mario Navarro (The Black Scorpion), Pascual Garcia Pena (Los luchadores vs. el robot asesino, Bring me the Vampire, House of the Frights, La marca de Satanas, The Black Scorpion), Eduardo Noriega (Don't Panic, Guyana: Cult of the Damned, The Man and the Beast, Tarzan and the Valley of Gold), Julio Villarreal (The Witch 1954), Lupe Carriles (The Kiss from Beyond the Grave, El vampiro sangriento, Swamp of the Lost Souls), Jose Chavez (Demonoid, The Bees, Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolf Man, Planet of Female Invaders, El pueblo fantasmo, Neutron vs. the Maniac, The Invasion of the Vampires, The Terrible Giant of the Snow, La sangre de Nostradamus, El hombre y el monstruo, Invisible Man in Mexico, The Black Scorpion, El vampiro, El fantasma de la casa roja), Roberto Contreras (The Day Time Ended, The Black Scorpion, The Dark), Armando Gutierrez (Night of the Bloody Apes, The Invasion of the Vampires, El hombre y el monstruo, Mysteries of Black Magic), Guillermo Hernandez (Santo in the Treasure of Dracula, Dr. Satan y la magia negra, The Witches Attack, Blue Demon vs. the Satanic Power, Grave Robbers, The Diabolica Axe, El pueblo fantasma, Neutron vs. the Maniac, Santo vs. the Vampire Women, The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy, The Body Snatcher, The Witch 1954), Margarito Luna (Blue Demon contra cerebros infernales, Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolf Man, Blue Demon vs. the Satanic Power, The Diabolical Axe, Blue Demon: El Demonio Azul, 100 Cries of Terror, El monstruo de los volcanes, Santo vs. the Vampire Women, The Black Scorpion, El vampiro, Tarzan and the Mermaids.
Got a few mainstream credits here too, if you can believe that: Guy Madison (Wild Bill Hickok on Adventures of Wild Billy Hickok), Eduardo Noriega (Braulio Monasterios on Prisonera de Amor), Carlos Rivas (Lun Tha in The King and I), Roberto Contreras (Pedro in The High Chaparral).
The special effects, as previously alluded to, are bad even by 1950s stop motion animation standards. It may not be fair, but I think that by 1956 Ray Harryhausen had already spoiled us with flicks like The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, and It Came from Beneath the Sea, and the stop motion in those movies is just so far ahead of what Hollow Mountain has to offer that it comes across as an abject failure. To be fair, some scenes are worse than others, and I will say that the running animation on the dinosaur is not bad, but most of the time the critter is really stiff and its animation choppy. They also elect to use miniatures and independent backgrounds rather than rear projection most of the time, and a lot of the backgrounds are bizarrely constructed and almost Gumby-esque in appearance. The effects department also crafted a set of dinosaur legs to be worn by an actor, which are shot from the quadriceps down, and those sequences are even more ridiculous than the stop motion. So I think it's safe to say that this aspect of the film is a poison pill, unfortunately. The dummy dragged behind the horse and the sped up stock cattle footage are pretty pitiful too, but everything else is so much worse that they're hardly worth mentioning.
The sets and shooting locations are exceptional, particularly the building exteriors and interiors. Though in a state of disrepair in places, the authentic Mexican architecture enhances the film's atmosphere in a way movies that are set (but not actually filmed) there lack. Fans of Westerns may not see anything special, as they will have been exposed to this type of architecture time and again, but for Horror fans, it's not the kind of thing we see as often, and for that reason it feels fresh and gives it a little regional flavor that we're not often privy to. The landscapes are adequate and depict the rugged, untamed terrain effectively, but aren't as memorable as the human constructions, considering places like these exist in great abundance and aren't especially unique. The soundtrack, like most other aspects of the film, follows the Western motif and only deviates from it once the dinosaur appears. Of course, given that the movie is a Western for the majority its running time, the music matches the tone and general mood of the picture pretty well, despite not bringing anything new to the table. '50s movie soundtracks were generic in general, but Western soundtracks were perhaps the most interchangeable of any genre, so dinosaur or no, you'd be setting yourself up for disappointment expecting anything outside the box. There's some loud, dramatic brass arrangements in the opening credits and during the climactic showdown with the dinosaur, and while it seemed a bit unusual to go with no music at all during the big fist-fight scene, the score is pretty conventional. Overall, I think the production values (less the atrocious effects) are good enough to warrant a passing grade. However, the lack of dinosaur screen time makes it a real slog if you're not into Westerns, and leaves you feeling pretty ripped off when the credits roll. So unless you find the genre crossover irresistible, I'd suggest skipping this one in favor of either The Valley of Gwangi, or Dinosaurus!, as they deliver both the goods Hollow Mountain fails to.