The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956)
Somehow I have never thought the western mixed too well with fantasy and this Guy Madison flick hasn’t done much to change that opinion. When the credits pointed out this was from an idea by Willis O’Brien I thought perhaps it was an earlier version of the Ray Harryhausen flick, Valley of Gwangi. For those not familiar with the work of O’Brien, look no further than the 8th Wonder of the World, KING KONG.
This United Artists release from director Edward Nassour was filmed in Mexico. The filmmakers should be commended for doing a nice job utilizing a location shoot and presenting the film in color. If one didn’t know the title and missed the opening narration warning of a beast in local folk legends you’d think you were watching another range war western for the first 45 minutes of the films 80 minute running time.
Madison is a Gringo who owns land and is raising cattle against the wishes of Eduardo Noriega who is the local land baron. To compound problems Madison casts a handsome figure and has caught the eye of Noriega’s betrothed played by Patrica Medina. Like any decent western there will be a little gun play and a decent punch up on main street between our two leading contenders for Medina’s hand.
Guy is all for law and order but Noriega is bending the rules to his liking. Caught in the middle is Medina whose hand has been promised to the local Baron yet it’s more than obvious that her heart longs for our soon to be hero Madison.
The tone of the film takes a sudden shift when it’s discovered that cattle are not being rustled as was originally thought. They’re being devoured by what appears to be a very Gwangi like dinosaur. Madison jumps to the defense of Medina and her young charge when the dinosaur cuts loose for his film ending rampage.
Using selected overhead shots the director allows us to see through the dinosaurs eyes as he goes about stalking his prey. It’s effective as are some of the stop motion effects from Nassour. On the down side many of the shots are rather cartoonish and not up to Harryhausen standards. Kind of reminded me of those old Davey and Goliath cartoons from Saturday morning television.
Raul Lavista supplies the film with a thrilling soundtrack that might be it’s best overall attribute. Madison being no stranger to the western genre fits the saddle fine and handles himself like any top notch cowboy when it’s time to use his fists or six shooter. Medina as the love interest turned up in a number of B’s (like this one)before moving into TV and has a large number of credits in the medium to her name.
This oddball western turned up recently on a blu ray release from Scream Factory as a double bill with The Neanderthal man.