The Film (3.5/5)
Inspired by the huge 1954 hit, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Monster of Piedras Blancas was made in attempt to cash in on the success of that film. The story, taking place in Piedras Blancas, is about a lighthouse keeper, Sturges (John Harmon from the Microwave Massacre) is feeding meat scraps to a prehistoric man-sized monster that lives in a cave near the ocean. The local townsfolk don’t believe that the creature exists, but before you know it, people are getting killed with their bodies near its lair. There is memorable scene where the monster is holding a victim’s head, which was used in publicity stills and photos, and even the artwork used for this blu ray release courtesy of Olive Films. It goes on a rampage until the film’s hero, Fred (Don Sullivan from The Giant Gila Monster and The Rebel Set) plays a little cat and mouse with the monster on the lighthouse, near its home leading to a decent, maybe a little bit silly climax.
Often called a poor man’s Creature of the Black Lagoon, The Monster of Piedras Blancas does stand out on its own merits. The monster’s suit does indeed resemble the iconic “gill man” creature, but despite the similarities, the suit is a pretty impressive creepy design. The monster’s roar was also fiercely chilling until the end where a couple of roars sounded more like a man’s voice (which it was in real life obviously)as opposed to a growl. The hands of The Monster of Piedras Blancas were the same hands used for the creatures in The Mole People while the monster’s feet came from The Metaluna Mutant in the classic 1955 film, This Island Earth.
The movie is also has some great cheesecake, Jeanne Carmen (Untamed Youth), playing Lucille “Lucy” Sturges, Fred’s girlfriend. She gets carried off by the monster in a scene that was clearly borrowing elements from The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Also on hand to lend his acting talents and to add some credibility to The Monster from Piedras Blancas is veteran actor Les Tremayne (The Angry Red Planet, The War of the Worlds) as Dr. Sam Jorgenson who examines and wants to study the creature. While not an all-time classic, The Monster of Piedras Blancas is a very entertaining low budget movie with decent performances by the cast. Director Irvin Berwick’s vision of what he wanted from his film wasn’t as effective as he probably would have liked it to be; but he directed the film as well as anyone else doing fifties B-horror movies and he did throw in a couple of real shocks (at the time)
Having a VHS release and often found on websites on the black market circuit, Olive Films (who licensed this movie a few years ago when they acquired the Republic library) presents the long awaited release of The Monster of Piedras Blancas in its original aspect ratio of 1:78:1 in 1080p with an MPEG-4 AVC encode and the results are outstanding. With a very solid grey scale, solid black levels, Olive Films did a great restoration job with this movie. It has a really nice polished look to it. There is of course print debris, speckles here and there because the film elements were over fifty years old, but overall, and after watching it twice I was highly impressed with the image quality. Just an excellent transfer
The audio used for this film, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, is perfectly fine the monsters roar, dialog, and screams of people all coming in clear. This release does include English subtitles
As with many of Olive Films’ Blu-ray and DVD releases, The Monster of Piedras Blancas is another title which falls into their library of “barebone” releases. Because this film is considered an obscure title, I, as well as many fans are just grateful that the movie was even released on blu ray
Fans of The Monster of Piedras Blancas can now rejoice as Olive Films has finally released it. While it’s far from a classic, and comes up short when compared to other similar films such as the black lagoon series, this will delight many die-hard fans who enjoy these classic black and white cheesy, campy, but still so much fun movies from the 1950s. While it lacks in the extras department, the audio and video quality for this release more than make up for that. HIGHLY recommended and thank you Olive Films !