Friday, October 28, 2016

Season of Horror: The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959)

I'm so happy it's a rainy Friday night and I have the privilege of relaxing with a new monster movie. Don't judge. We should all do what makes us happy. The Monster of Piedras Blancas comes by recommendation of brother John. Rubber suited monsters aren't my favorite thing, but they are usually fun and lovable, and John never leads me astray on a recommendation, so I'm sure there's something I'll enjoy about this flick. It's been about three years since I last saw Creature From the Black Lagoon. The character on the title menu looks like the Creature's evil twin holding a decapitated head. It's going to be a bumpy night.

We open with a nice view of a lighthouse and move to a claw reaching into a bowl that is chained. The crotchety lighthouse keeper is walking his bike and stops to yell at some darned kids with fishing poles that he's told to stay away. While the credits roll, he rides his bike through the village.

A group of onlookers are gathered around a boat on the beach and one man tells the constable he's never seen anything like it, with the head ripped clean off. The constable notes they're white as sheets and they don't look like they have a drop of blood left. Sturges, the lighthouse keeper rides up and the man claims he knows more than he'll tell. They discuss how the Rinaldi brothers usually fish at the point. The constable tells the crowd it's not a Roman Holiday and they should disperse.

Sturges rides to Kochek's Meat and Groceries for supplies, and Kochek relates how he was the one to find the Rinaldi brothers with their throats cut clean without much blood around. Kochek claims that if it had happened when he first came there, people would blame the Monster of Piedras Blancas. Sturges asks for his meat scraps, but Kochek says he gave them to Bert for his hogs. Sturges informs him that he'll be sorry for doing that. Some men walk in with one of the Rinaldi brothers and Kochek reminds Sturges that there's a first class funeral for the Rinaldi brothers the next day.

Sturges heads over to The Wings Cafe to see his daughter, Lucille. He tells her to be home before dark, but she says she has to work that night and that she'll have Fred take her home. Constable Matson asks Sturges if he saw anything unusual, since the Rinaldi brothers always fish out at the point. Sturges says that he warned them that it's dangerous at that time of year since nobody can tell when a squall comes up, that nobody listens and they'll be sorry. After he leaves, the Constable stupidly complains about Sturges being unfriendly in front of his daughter. He apologizes and she states she knows the town's not very fond of him.

They all leave and Fred asks if her dad's always been at odds with the town, but she says she'll tell him some other time. Fred suggests she come along with him to pick up some specimens at the point. She offers to make sandwiches to take with them.

The doctor informs the Constable that the jugular veins, the carotid arteries, the esophagus and trachea were cut straight across and there was a complete transection of the spinal cord, but all he really needed to say was that the heads were severed from the trunks. The doc can't explain how it happened though he relates it to the effects of the guillotine. Kolchek brings up the Monster of Piedras Blancas, but the Constable claims it's an old wives tale. The doctor narrows it down by saying it may have been a freak accident or they may have a lunatic on their hands.

Fred and Lucille are setting out a nice spread at the point with a huge basket of goodies from The Wings. Fred undresses while Lucille eats a big...cookie or cinnamon roll or something round. Fred asks for a pickle and she asks why the Constable asked her dad about the Rinaldi brothers.

Sturges is chaining a bowl of what appears to be dead fish out on the rocks, while Fred and Lucille start playing around in the water.

While the doc and the Constable are having coffee, the doc shares how he did not mention that although the heads were severed as though by scalpel, the arteries were distended as though something were attached to pump out the blood. Ew. Matson asks if it they have a monster on their hands, but the doc thinks there's a logical explanation for severed heads and drained bodies. Go figure.

Lucille continues to help Fred look for specimens, which apparently requires the removal of her clothing.

Matson visits Kochek to put the kibosh on his rumor mongering and threatens to lock him up for inciting a riot if he continues. Fred brings Lucille back to the café and they run into Constable Matson, who asks to chat with Fred over a cup of coffee.

Meanwhile, back at the lighthouse, Sturges is cleaning the light in the lighthouse and complaining to his doggie, Ring, about the two brothers who went fishing and caused people to be asking questions and prying into their business.

Fred drops Lucille off and they talk about how her dad used to be lots of fun but changed just before her ninth birthday when he had to stay in the tower due to a storm while her sick mother's condition worsened. The doctor refused to come out in the storm, when Sturges called, and Lucille's mother died. Lucille was sent to boarding school and has only come home for summers within the past two years. She tries to get Fred to hang out on the rocks with her, but he claims he needs to go prepare his specimens. After he leaves, she decides to go skinny dipping on the beach alone. A claw fondles her clothing while she is in the water, but is nowhere to be seen when her daddy calls her in. He chastises her for swimming alone at night and questions what they teach her at college, since it's not modesty. She tells her dad that she felt that someone was watching her. He gets mad and tells her he'll ship her off to college if she goes swimming alone again at night. 

We get a glimpse of a monster shadow on its way to shop at Kochecks. Kocheck looks shocked to see a claw reaching for him. Sturges said he'd be sorry for not giving him the meat scraps.

The pallbearers are carrying the Rinaldi brothers from the church to the cemetery and Little Jimmy's mom tells him he doesn't have to come to the cemetery. He hangs out on the street whittling wood until he realizes it's his lucky day when he finds a nickel. He goes in to shop at Kocheks but since he can't find Mr. Kochek behind the counter, he goes looking and finds his prone body in his office. He runs to the cemetery as fast as his lame leg can carry him and tells his mother that Mr. Kochek was murdered and he didn't have a head.

Fred shows up as the Doc and Constable prepare to investigate. They look around and find a big fish gill and decide to take it to the Doc's office to run some tests on it. On the way out, Matson tells Eddie to take the body in the ice room and stay and keep an eye out on the store. Over at the Doc's place, Matson is complaining about the Doc and Fred dipping the fish gill in and out of a solution for an hour. Fred identifies the gill as similar to that of the prehistoric amphibious reptile Diplovertebron, only larger. Lucy suddenly comes in crying saying her father has been hurt and is unconscious by the caves. The doctor provides her with a little pill to make her feel better and they rush off in the jeep.

They find Sturges with a hurt leg and a bad gash in his arm, and they get him back to the lighthouse to tend to his wounds. Lucille asks if anyone wants coffee and they tell her to make some, but when she comes back in a few seconds with it, nobody wants any. She tells Matson that she heard her dad go out the night before, and then realizes that Ring, who never leaves his side, is nowhere to be found. She goes out and calls for him but gets no response. It's safe to assume Ring didn't make it. I only hope we don't have to see his decapitated doggy head. The Doc and Constable go back to town and Fred decides to be a good boyfriend and stay with Lucille.

Sturges wakes up and while Lucille goes to make him some broth, Fred asks him about the legend of Piedras Blancas (Pee-ay-drus Blank-us). He tells Fred the rocks on the seaward side are covered white with gull dropping (Piedras Cacas?), making them almost impossible to see in bad weather, and that many ships were lost before the lighthouse was installed. Since there were never any survivors, the early settlers started a legend that a monster lived in the rocks. Fred asks if anyone has ever looked in the caves, and if he minds if he goes to have a look, and Sturges becomes agitated.

Back in town, the Doc and Constable find out that Will's little girl has become the next victim at the store. They go to check on Eddie.

Fred starts probing into Lucille's dad's changed behavior. He asks why her dad sent her away. She says he forbid her from playing by the rocks and beach, and one day she sneaked away and got caught in the caves by the tide. He sent her to bed without supper and then sent her away to boarding school the next day, where she didn't see him for ten years. He asks if she's heard the legend White Rocks, which she has, and he says he's going to take a look in the caves. She gets angry with him for disobeying her father by deciding to go into the caves and tells him not to come there again.

The Doc and Constable are at the store and Eddie is nowhere to be found. Matson goes to look for him in the ice room and we hear a roar, followed by the Matson's anguished cries. We glimpse the lower portion of the monster as it exits with Eddie's bloody severed head.

A brave bystander attempts to stop it with a hatchet, but gets thumped by its heavy arm, crushing his collarbone. The Constable clutches his side and says to go get him, but the Doc says not now. They find another scale on the hatchet that's identical to the one found at Kocheks and deduce that the creature toting a head is their killer. Duh. Matson goes to get Fred and Lucy tells him he went to the cliffs. He tells Lucille that there have been two more murders and that she should keep the place locked because there's a creature loose. She seems strangely unemotional, but maybe she's still feeling the effects of the pill the Doc gave her earlier.

Fred is searching the caves with a big stick and is startled by the Constable sneaking up on him. He tells Fred there have been more murders by an inhuman creature that's seven feet tall with tremendous strength. He enlists Fred to go track it down, because apparently there is no police force in this town,  and they go to the Café to pick up some guns. They take a posse up to the beach and disperse to search the cliffs, moors and caves. Fred and Matson find Eddie's head being snapped at by a crab and Fred decides to save Eddie's severed head and shoots the crab. They hear warning shots fired and find that the two of the team were attacked, with one dead. The Constable says they'll need more men and will start the hunt tomorrow.

Lucille asks her dad why he asked Fred not to go in the caves. He asks what's between the two of them and she says she's in love with him, but doesn't mention how she told him not to come back when her dad tells her not to see him again. Her daddy tells her a long roundabout story about how he got lonely and befriended the creature in the cave, at first leaving fish he caught and then meat scraps. He confesses that he's been feeding the creature for years and he felt protective of the monster as if it was his own. It made him feel less lonely after sending Lucy away. Huh? He insists he needs to go tend the light, and she helps him up the stairs and gives him a kiss. He asks what's that for and she says it's because she loves him, but we know it's because he'll be dying soon.

Fred is studying the scales they found and he posits that the Creature was created at the bottom of the sea. He guesses that it's a mutation of the reptilian family and questions if it's capable of rational thinking of if it is just a beast. They discuss the Creature's actions at the store and conclude he's a thinking monster, which makes Fred decide to take him alive, and he comes up with a plan to use a net to capture him. The Doc agrees and says it may answer questions about evolution as well as put the town on the map.

Lucille puts out a dish of food for Ring and calls him but he doesn't come. She locks the door with a weak bolt. Fred goes to get a net and Matson says he's got to go to the office. The monster does some shadow play while Lucy undresses in front of the window. He breaks into the house and his ugly mug is finally revealed when Lucy opens her bedroom door, thinking it's her father.

Fred is working on the net and talking about how he'll ship it to the University if they should capture it to answer questions about evolution. Matson drives up and says he's worried about the light not being on in the lighthouse. When he calls Lucy and doesn't get an answer, he goes to check on her. The Creature has decided to carry Lucy off. Apparently he's interested in something other than cleanly severing her head and gorging on her blood.

When her daddy sees it carrying her to the caves from the lighthouse, he tosses a bucket at it and thumps it on the head, which makes it angry enough to put Lucy down and go after him. Sturges is waiting with a gun and plugs the beast a few times, with little result. Lucy comes to and finds poor Ring and then rushes off to the lighthouse where she finds her dad shooting at the monster. He tells her to go, and Fred picks her up in the road on his way there.

Her dad goes to the top of the lighthouse, thinking the Creature can't get past the steel door. Fred and the rest attempt to throw him a rope to rescue him, but the Creature forces his way through the door and goes after Sturges. One of the posse members attempts to shoot it, but Matson tells him not to because he might hit Sturges, and they watch as the Creature picks him up and tosses him from the lighthouse.

Fred goes up after the Creature, and when he realizes it doesn't like light, Lucy goes to turn the lighthouse light on it, allowing Fred to knock it off the lighthouse into the water, rather than actually shooting it, allowing for the possible Return of the Monster of Piedras Blancas.

to be continued...

No comments: