Judge Dawn Hunt challenged the world to a game of hide-and-seek. She’s doing pretty well.
Made in the atomic age The Monster That Challenged The World is a rubber suit monster movie with a plot about as generic as they come. There’s a military base near San Diego where experiments with radiation are taking place. Add in an earthquake and a long-dormant prehistoric species and boom! You’ve got the recipe for the monster in the movie. The main characters all seem to be taken from the same playbook as other monster movies from the era as well. There is the hero who is a tough yet gentle man, the damsel in distress, and the scientist who can’t believe his radiation experiment would contribute to anything. The scientist ultimately pulls one of the dumbest moves of the entire film when he brings back one of the creature’s eggs to study. Because science.
However I was pleasantly surprised by how well this film actually is made. There are far more practical effects than I anticipated. For instance when there is a sequence of paratroopers time was taken to actually gather footage of real life paratroopers. Sure, there is occasionally a close-up which is lit differently and betrays the fact the actors couldn’t possibly be in any shots like that one, but that doesn’t detract from my enjoyment. I really appreciated how this was not a momentary thing but rather a continuing trend throughout the entire piece. It brought The Monster That Challenged the World up a notch in my estimation for sure.
The movie is at its least effective when the monster is actually on screen for more than a moment at a time, for it is then that the limitations of the rubber suit are put on full display. However given its age and the caliber of the other shots I’m willing to look past what becomes kind of a goofy monster by the end. Plus the rubber suit is kind of the point. It’s become a hallmark of these movies and works on a nostalgic level if not a practical one.
The video is a full-screen 1.33:1 full frame transfer, and is black-and-white. I was afraid that the many night shots would betray an inky black level however nothing becomes too obscured even when it’s supposed to be the dead of night. There are scenes where the lighting is obviously different in a close-up versus a wide shot, betraying stunt people versus actors but that’s part and parcel of films of this era and isn’t something which will bother any but someone new to the genre. The audio is a very simple stereo but it does its job well and though it won’t fill up the soundscape to overflowing it’s definitely serviceable.
There are no special features.