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Kenneth G. Crane
Jim Davis, Robert Griffin, Joel Fluellen
Writing Credits:
Louis Vittes, Endre Bohem

A scientific expedition in Africa investigates wasps that have been exposed to radiation and mutated into giant monsters.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 70 min.
Price: $24.95
Release Date: 3/8/2022

• Audio Commentary with Film Scholar Stephen R. Bissette
• “Missouri Born” Featurette
• Booklet


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Monster from Green Hell [Blu-Ray] (1957)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 6, 2022)

In the 1950s, movie studios big and small cranked out seemingly endless horror flicks that reflected the “atomic age” and the advent of space flights. In this vein, we go to 1957’s Monster From Green Hell.

American scientists Quent Brady (Jim Davis) and Dan Morgan (Robert Griffin) sends small animals and insects into space to study the effects of radiation in that setting. One of the rockets goes off-course and lands in Africa.

Six months later, Brady and Morgan learn that the creatures on board that particular craft mutated into giant monsters. They partner with locals to stop this deadly menace.

Wow – that sounds like a tale with real potential for excitement, doesn’t it? Space age thrills, a trek through Africa, enormous killer insects – what could go wrong?

A lot, as it happens, most of which relates to the movie’s 27-cent budget. Granted, those involved with Hell may lack the talent to create an engaging film even with ample bucks at their disposal, but clearly the production’s intense lack of funds damaged it.

On IMDB, a post claims that 40 percent of Hell comes from stock footage. That estimate feels high, but make no mistake: the movie does use a ton of clips recycled from other projects.

Given the flick’s brief 70-minute running time, all that old material becomes more problematic – and another reminder of the low budget. Clearly those involved needed to cut a slew of corners, and the fact they could only gin up the bucks to shoot maybe 50 minutes of their own material turns into a concern.

As does the bargain basement feel of what we see. The vast majority of the shots filmed explicitly for Hell take place in various offices or indoor sets, an odd choice for a story that spends so much time on the hunt for killer bugs in the wilds of Africa.

Of course, this relates to the production’s inability to go much of anywhere beyond soundstages, and many of the “outdoors” shots also obviously came from sets. On their own, these issues don’t feel fatal, but even for a cheap 1950s flick, they make the result seem awfully insubstantial.

It doesn’t help that Hell barely attempts a real plot, and even with that brief running time, it pads its “narrative” mercilessly. A ridiculous amount of the movie shows little more than characters as they plod through Africa.

Hardly anything happens – at least not in relation to the story’s alleged purpose as a monster movie. Sure, the characters encounter travails and problems as they traverse the terrain, but these feel like the filler sequences they are.

Face it: with the aforementioned 27-cent budget, the producers couldn’t afford to actually feature the killer insects too much since special effects cost money. This means that the film avoids the mutated creatures as much as it can.

We see them briefly early in the film – comically and awkwardly joined to more of that stock footage – and not much again until the alleged “climax”. Some of the effects actually look decent given the cheapness of the production, but the title critters don’t appear enough to create thrills.

Even with great visual effects, though, Hell would become a terrible movie. It just becomes a slow, tedious road to nowhere.

The Disc Grades: Picture C/ Audio C/ Bonus B-

Monster from Green Hell appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I don’t know why this release bothered with the 1.33:1 version, though it does expose the full frame and show more information than the 1.85:1 edition.

If that rocks your world, enjoy it. I stayed with the 1.85:1 presentation for this review, based on the assumption – potentially erroneous - that the filmmakers intended the movie to play that way.

In any case, Hell offered passable but erratic visuals. That said, sharpness usually worked fine, as the majority of the movie displayed appealing accuracy.

The main exceptions came from all those aforementioned stock shots, as those tended to appear mushy and fuzzy. However, the elements created specifically for the film became fairly concise and only suffered from occasional instances of softness.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. The film’s decent layer of grain implied no overuse of noise reduction.

Print flaws became the main concern here, particularly in the form of vertical lines and streaks. Other issues remained infrequent, and the lines didn’t impact all parts of the movie.

Still, those defects became a distraction, and I also saw a couple instances of missing frames. Blacks seemed fairly deep and dense, while shadows offered reasonable clarity.

The packaging touts a “rare colorized climax”, and this meant the last two minutes or so of the movie came in color. The tones looked pretty wan and weak. Overall, this remained a watchable image that suffered from a mix of problems.

Don’t expect much from the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, as it felt like a lackluster effort, even for its era. Speech was intelligible but somewhat brittle.

Music lacked much range and could seem shrill. Effects appeared adequate but without much range, and they suffered from a little distortion at times.

Some pops and clicks accompanied the mix, though not on a persistent basis. This worked as a decent track given its age but not a good one.

A few extras flesh out the disc, and we find an audio commentary from film historian Stephen R. Bissette. He provides a running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, sets and locations, various effects, genre domains and production elements.

At times, Bissette’s chat can feel like a glorified IMDB overview, especially during the film’s first half. However, I like his personal perspective on Hell and the genre, and when he delves into effects – his real wheelhouse – the track improves significantly.

Honestly, I wish Bissette spent most of the 70 minutes on the effects, as these portions easily turn the most interesting. Even at its weakest, though, this remains a good commentary, one that becomes superior when Bissette touches on his preferred topics.

Missouri Born runs 14 minutes, 41 seconds and brings remarks from film historian C. Courtney Joyner as he discusses the life and career of actor Jim Davis. Joyner makes this a tight, informative overview.

Finally, the package includes a booklet that features an essay from author Dan Stradley as well as some photos and art. It finishes the set on a positive note.

Even by the low standards of bargain basement 1950s sci-fi/horror, Monster From Green Hell seems cheap and shoddy. We do not even find campy thrills, as the film brings us a sluggish, dull experience. The Blu-ray offers mediocre picture and audio along with a few decent bonus features. Expect a boring drag of a movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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