Every weekend we're watching movies together...whether you're in Pennsylvania USA, or Sydney Australia. It's a throwback! Back to the days when you had the anticipation for waiting till the weekend to see the classic horror or science fiction film that was listed in the TV Guide. The plan is to watch a movie at 7:30PM on Saturday night in your own time zone. Or, if you can't Saturday night...anytime during the weekend. Then, we'll all get together and e-mail our thoughts on the film...a few paragraphs...or simply a sentence if you'd like. They after-viewing reviews appear on our Creepy Classics/Monster Bash News Page. See the latest thoughts posted by viewers ther now.

Concept submitted by Mike Adams of Carteret, New Jeresey.

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Creepy Classics TV Movie This Last Weekend: THE BLACK SCORPION (1958) Fan Comments:

Every week, readers here are selecting a movie to view...then we all try to watch it together utilizing our DVD/video library. This past Saturday night, many of us watched THE BLACK SCOROPION (1958). This was suggested by Kevin Coon of Twin Falls, Idaho. Details about movie nights to come are HERE. Please include your name and location after your comments, so we can see how we're all joining together from diffeent locals around the globe!

I found myself at the Cinema Wasteland Convention on Saturday night for our movie night. I, luckily, remembered to bring a copy of THE BLACK SCORPION with me to watch on Saturday Night. I got to see it with friends Kevin Surnear and Dan Brenneis. This is a MUCH better movie tha I had remembered from my ast viewings (years ago). Lots of monster scenes. Pretty brutal killings of humans by the army of underground gant scorpions. They were awakened by a an exploding volcano and rose to the surface in seach of food from huge caverns. Richard Denning, Mara Corday, and the whole cast is likable and fun. I had heard that some of the scenes in the cavern with scorpions and other creatures...spider, bugs, and lizards were leftovers from the famous cut "spider scenes" of KING KONG (1933). Animator supervisor Willis O'Brien is the guy who engineered KING KONG for us back in the thirties.

I must admit that the close-ups of the scorpions are rather goofy, and yet scary, not quite matching wth the visuals of the great stop-motion.

Long live this big bug movies from the 1950s! -Ron Adams, Ligonier, PA

Hey Bash Synchers!
For many years as a stop motion fan, this was a holy grail movie. The first time I saw it was in 1990 and there is an interesting story behind my first viewing.

I was at a crossroads in my life. I was contemplating leaving a good job at a TV station to become a missionary in Mexico City. I was pretty firm in my decision to leave, but had doubts. I was asking God, ïs this the right thing to do? Give me a sign.¨ One day this was on my mind and I turned on the TV, and one of my favorite new shows was coming on, Mystery Science Theater 3000. The movie for the day, BLACK SCORPION, which has a giant scorpion attacking...Mexico City! It was one of many instances that confirmed my decision, and 19 years later, I am still a missionary in Mexico.

I actually own a copy of the DVD. I saw it in a record store in Mexico City and had to get it because it promised another holy grail of stop motion fandom...the dinosaur scenes from Animal World. I watched the Black Scorpion again without my friends Joel, Tom and Crow.
Now here are my comments on my third viewing of BLACK SCORPION:

Great giant monster theme music.
Hey I know that guy, didn´t the creature get him in Brazil???
Lot of earthquake talk, pretty poignant for me as we just went through a 7.2 quake last Sunday. See a full report at my blog:
Wow that dispatcher speaks great English, no accent at all. I wonder why Richard couldn´t understand him? His buddy thickened his accent to talk with him...what a hoot!
Isn't that funny and cute, an abandoned baby, they sure are jolly about it!
Spooky dead guy!
I learned a little Spanish with this movie
Presidente Municipal, Alcade - Mayor
Mucho Gusto - Pleasure to meet you
Con Permiso - Excuse me.
That doctor is preparing some margarita...holy cow! Quite a coffee break heh heh.
Pretty impressive location shooting, better than Bronson Canyon!
This movie started good, but man, it is dragging in the middle. We want some scorpions!!!
Squeaking Scorpion!
GIANT SCORPION. COOL!!! Pretty good effects. Notice there are no process shots, all models, but pretty good.
Boy Pancho sure is worked up. They needed Rin Tin Tin for the part.
The first process shot, the amazing transparent scorpion. Pathetic. It is sad that they didn´t have a hold of Ray´s Dynamation process to do the attack on the town right. Sad when you consider how great Kong was, and to think Kong´s master had a hand in some of these effects.
Were talking about scorpions in the desert, why do they have a frog in the bottle???
There standing in a little box hung from a cable 10 feet away from a giant scorpion, and they act like it was nothing. They should have said ¨cheese¨ when they took the picture.
Cool monster fight!
Must be the granddaddy of them all.
Mexico City!!!
Why so much mystery to tell them there is still a giant scorpion, blah blah blah, it is dragging again!
A giant scorpion is heading to destroy the city, and there is time for romance??? Yawn!!!!
Shades of kong...attack on a train!
Tacubaya! I have been there! Insurgentes too!
Monument to the Revolution.
We need some dynamation, sad process shots.
Olympic Stadium, home of the Pumas de UNAM!
This is an OK movie in the monster on the loose genre. Some cool animation mixed with some real bad process shots. Too much talk, should have trimmed all the romance. It was fun to see my city once again.
See you next week for Monolith Monsters!
-Ken Blose, Mexico

This is what makes 50's sci-fi some darn much fun!! You have Mexico being destroyed by volcanoes and earthquakes and then to top it all off a horde of giant scorpions invades the countryside!! Richard denning and Carlos Rivas are two men who trying to help the citizens of Mexico when they are faced with an even more menacing terror than earthquakes. Sexy Mara Corday is also on hand to help our hero. The special effects are top notch and the final battle scenes in the stadium are a monument to stop motion.

The train massacre is also excellent! Simply one of the finest films ever made!!
-Kevin Coon, Twin Falls, ID

To Ron or Creepy Classics
From Michael Aguilar
This weekend I took your advice and watched one of your favorite movies THE BLACK SCORPION. Although I didn't watch it at night but in the morning in the garage while filming. I always thought THE BLACK SCORPION was better than THEM with the giant ants. I'll never forget when I saw the film. I had never heard of it before, or found no mention in Famous Monsters, watching it late at night. I didnt know what to expect. It had everything! You can't compare the cavern scene with alll the monsters in it! They were saying that the catapillar might of been a leftover from King Kongs famous spider scene. Of course the stop motion was supervised by Willis O'Brien and animated by Pete Peterson. I still don't understand why this film is so obscure when compared to THEM. Well, this is all Ii can say about it I hope everybody got a big kick from it!
From Michael Aguilar, Arizona

(Editor's Note: Michael is an old school stop-motion film animator)

Ron, The Black Scorpion is a frustrating film. Peppered throughout the film are sequences that harkened back to the work Willis O'Brien did on King Kong. Unfortunately, those scenes are few and far between.

The Black Scorpion is an obvious retread of the film Them. It even starts out the same way. Them had a great idea. Combining the procedural police work of a Dragnet episode and radioactive insects, it was a great idea effectively handled. By the time The Black Scorpion came out, the idea had lost it's sheen. However, there are a couple of sequences which redeem the film for me. The first is where the nest of scorpions is discovered. They reside in a cavern. A team of scientists go to investigate. When one of the team falls into the chasm leading to the cavern, the remaining two go to investigate. They discover the nest of scorpions who are overcome by a bloodlust caused by the dead man. Among the scorpions is a giant worm. All vying for human flesh. It's a savage sequence masterfully handled by Willis O'Brien. That sequence reminded me of what the lost "spider" sequence of King Kong would've looked like. The next sequence is the best and it's the reason I keep returning to the film. A train is rolling through the desert at night when suddenly it is attacked by giant scorpions. The scorpions ravage through the train cars picking out victims. They fight among themselves and in one amazing scene two scorpions treat a human like a wishbone. When all of this is going on, an even bigger scorpion arrives and kills the competition. The sequence is eerily lit and the sudden savagery is very jolting.

The above sequences come out of left field because it didn't jibe with the tone of the film. There are too many scenes of exposition and explanation that when the scorpion scenes occur they jolt just by contrast. Most movies of this type usually have a big payoff scene at the end where the title character dies a spectacular death. This film, however, misses out at that chance. When the title character is shown scurrying through Mexico City, a really bad process shot of the scorpion is used. At times the scorpion becomes almost see-through. It's used quite often and it looks terrible. Also, there are a lot of close-up shots of the scorpion. I don't know how to describe it other than it just looks goofy. The ending feels rushed and anti-climactic to me. The scorpion is essentially trapped in the stadium. It's just a matter of shooting it.

Another frustrating aspect to this film are the lead actors. It's got nothing to do with their ability. Far from that. The film stars Richard Denning and Mara Corday. Along with John Agar, Richard Denning starred in just about every sci-fi movie in the fifties. He was a good looking, intelligent actor. Also, falling under that category is Mara Corday. Both these actors deserved better than the characters they were given. They were basically called upon to look stern, angry, or scared at any given moment in the film.

The state of special effects started with one film: King Kong. Willis O'Brien created so many effects for King Kong that one tends to lose count. One reason for his success in King Kong was that he was given free reign. During the fifties his hands were tied monetarily as to what he could create. His hands were also tied by filmmakers who simply forgot who Willis O'Brien was. Had they remembered, films like The Black Scorpion would be minor classics instead of just fairly good films.

-Kirk Smith, Manito, Illinois

Dear All Fellow Creepy Classic Movie Synchmasters out there in the volcanic lands of Mexico, I watched the "Black Scorpion" (1958) this past Saturday evening at the Cinema Wasteland Show with my good friends Ron "Monster Bash" Adams and Kevin "The Sopranos" Surnear and had a GREAT time in doing so!---So here are my observations on what I believe is the 2nd best "big-bug" film ever made (at least in the 1950`s!)- next to "THEM!" (1954):

1) This movie has an pretty interesting premise! {giant scorpions are unleashed from an underground system of deep caverns by volcanic eruptions and the subsequent earthquake(s) associated with them. The bloodthirsty and cannabilistic arachnids then proceed to terrorize the countryside and kill many people and animals (mainly cattle) before the local government officials and our leading man and hero (played well by Richard Denning) and our beautiful leading lady (Mara Corday) help to put a stop to the menace by exploding the entrance to the caverns by using explosive charges of dynamite!} Problem is-the scorpions later find a way out (including the "big mama" of the bunch) and attack a train full of passengers bound for Mexico City at night (This is the best and most horrifying scene in the film-AND-also the best animated scene in the movie as well!) They then proceed to tear apart the poor people limb by limb and eat them using their pincers-UNTIL the giant mama comes and proceeds to attack her fellow comrades- picking them up, turning them over and stinging them to death. It is then left to our heroes to kill and dispose of the single, huge solitary scorpion left- and they do so in a wonderfully staged climax set in a huge soccer stadium! (I don`t remember another creature feature climax set in a sports stadium- do you folks?)

2) The SPFX in this film range from FANTASTIC to POOR. Considering that Willis O` Brien and Pete Peterson worked on this film- they should be top-notch THROUGHOUT the production. Problem is, they ran out of money halfway through the film (the head honchos at Warner Bros. didn`t want to spend the extra $) So what we get is great animation (the aftermentioned train scene, the underground cavern scenes with the giant worm and trapdoor spider chasing the young boy and the superb ending) mixed with extremely poor SUPERIMPOSED process shots (in stark black) of a scorpion silhouette advancing on the city and it`s inhabitants (on it`s way to the stadium) being lured by a truckfull of fresh meat carcasses.Another problem is the close-up head shots of the scorpion(s)- They happen way too often and look WAY too fake! (I don`t remember seeing scorpions ever drool at the mouth, do you, folks?!)

3) The music used in this film is pretty good!- Nice eerie notes are used to enhance the scary scenes in the film {especially in the cavern scenes} My only problem with this aspect of the production is that the music used for the sound of the scorpions is the same used for the giant ants in "THEM!" NOT EXACTLY ORIGINAL, FOLKS! Couldn`t they have found other sounds to use for these creepy critters?

4) Lastly, I really like the actors in this film. Richard Denning is nicely cast as the leading man (his character is pretty well written for a film of this type and budget) and of course, Miss Mara Corday is not only beautiful in the lead female role BUT shows she can act pretty good too! (This was probably her best sci-fi/horror film!)-- I put it a slight notch above "Tarantula" (1955) and WAY above "The Giant Claw" (1957)!! The other leads in this film also hold their own as well- Carlos Rivas is pretty good as the assistant Artur Ramos and the little boy Juanito is played by Mario Navarro. For you trivia buffs out there, Miss Mara Corday was the Playboy Playmate Of The Month for October 1958 and used to be married to actor Richard Long ("House On Haunted Hill" "Cult Of The Cobra" "The Big Valley" and 2 classic Twilight Zone episodes "Person Or Persons Unknown" and "Number Twelve Looks Just Like You") For more on actress Mara Corday (and other sci-fi/horror personalities) go to My rating for "The Black Scorpion" (1957): 3.25/5 stars. So until next week, when we try to evade the falling towers of "The Monolith Monsters" and watch and discuss that under-rated gem, I bid all of you a peaceful night from the town of San Lorenzo, Mexico!

----Dan Brenneis- Strongsville, Ohio- Monster Bash Staff Member and Lifetime FilmFan Extroadinairre.

Dan, Just a note. In the home movies of Evelyn Ankers and Richard Denning that we screened at MONSTER BASH a few years back, you can see Richard Long on the set with them. So, both famous spouses were there too: Evelyn Ankers and Richard Long. -Ron

Ron & CreepyClassics Fans;
THE BLACK SCORPION (1957) Amex Productions/Warner Brothers, Edward Ludwig, Director. Rating Two**Stars. Featuring the dependable Richard Denning, the 'very' attractive Mara Corday and the real star, Willis O'Brien, SFX Director and his creations. For the SCORPION's and the other creepy-crawlies are what of real interest here, the rampaging Arachnida's have more character then most of the supporting cast. Especially Child-Actor Mario Navarro playing JUANITO.

This is the last film that Willis O'Brien would have the chance to extensively use his multi-plane system of glass-paintings and miniatures to create depth and realism to the SFX scenes. This system was more expensive then the 'Front/Rear Projection' system developed by Ray Harryhausen for compositing the SFX with reality. Which explains why in the final scenes the animated 'Giant Black Scorpion' did not appear invading Mexico City, just the 'traveling matte', they ran out of money and could not complete compositing.

Of special note are two (2) creatures originally to be used in KING KONG (1933) in the lost 'Spider Pit' scene. A 'Clawed Spider' and 'Armored Worm'. If you are interested in seeing other models that survived, watch YOU'LL FIND OUT (1940) RKO featuring Kay Kyser, the 'Big Band' leader. Several of the props can be seen on a table or hanging on the wall in the basement/dungeon. One is even from the uncompleted CREATION (1931) the head of the ARSINOITHERIUM a giant two (2) horned Mammal. THE BLACK SCORPION was great fun too revisit. It is a pity that so many of O'Brien's projects did not come to fruition. They a certainly more imaginative and interesting then much of the crap that was actually produced...ROBERT, Chicago, Illinois

Thanks Robert. You can also see some of the KONG models in RKO's GENIUS AT WORK with Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill. -Ron

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