The Monster That Challenged The World (1957)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 11/16/14
Cast: Tim Holt, Audrey Dalton, Hans Conreid

An earthquake at the Salton Sea awakens some giant prehistoric mollusks that start feeding on local swimmers. The Navy orders the beaches to be closed while they hunt the creatures and destroy their subterranean lair with depth charges. Unfortunately, some of the creatures get away and make for the Great American Canal, which gives them the opportunity to migrate to the Pacific Ocean. And to make matters worse, yet another creature hatches back at the Naval research lab due to the carelessness of a child. "The egg won't hatch as long as we keep the water temperature at exactly 38 degrees, and we must make sure that no one touches this knob. This knob, right here. Don't anyone touch it. Okay?" Uptight Navy commander John Twillinger (Tim Holt) is in charge of the operation, but he always makes time to hit on Gail (Audrey Dalton), the sexy secretary who works at the lab.

It's a fun and entertaining outing that spends a lot of time explaining the science behind the creatures, and plays nicely into the general population's fear of nuclear radiation and atomic bomb testing. The underwater photography is excellent and the creature is effectively creepy looking. In addition to the solid performances by Tim Holt, Audrey Dalton, and Hans Conreid, the film also features a number of amusingly eccentric characters that help lighten the tone, including a switchboard operator who's always talking to her mom, a super sexy rebellious teenager, an oddball coroner, a grumpy canal guard, and an exceedingly loopy museum curator. It's interesting that the film shares a lot in common with "Jaws" (1975), and I wouldn't be surprised if Steven Spielberg was influenced by it.