Director: E.A. DuPont
Writer: Aubrey Wisberg & Jack Pollexfen
Stars: Robert Shayne, Richard Crane, Doris Merrick
The Beast of Hollow Mountain
Director: Edward Nassour & Ismael Rodriquez
Writer: Robert Hill
Stars: Carlos Rivas, Edward Noriega, Julio Villarreal
Scream Factory’s latest release offers two United Artists releases, 1953’s The Neanderthal Man and 1956’s The Beast of Hollow Mountain.
Hollow Mountain boasts a story credit by legendary King Kong effects artist Willis O’Brien. Other than that there’s nothing to really distinguish it from cowboy-versus-dinosaur b-movies of the 1950’s. It wasn’t the only cowboy-versus-dinosaur feature O’Brien was involved with, either. Famously, another intended but unrealized cowboy-dinosaur project by O’Brien was resurrected by Ray Harryhausen after his mentor’s death and produced by Warner Bros. as The Valley of Gwangi. Alas, changing of the guard at Warner resulted in a limited release dump for the film, supported by little advertising.
The Beast of Hollow Mountain is a much less focused picture than Gwangi. With the dinosaur action coming very late in the film, the narrative is set against a melodrama in a small Mexican town between an American rancher and his local rival. The presence of the dinosaur is never explained fully, and devouring of the antagonist wraps up the melodrama rather neatly. Typical, forgettable, b-movie stuff – it seems Hollow Mountain was destined to the same fate of obscurity as Gwangi. This release marks the first time The Beast of Hollow Mountain has been available in DVD or Blu-ray.
The Neanderthal Man works like a two-dimensional take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. A mad scientist in northern California, Professor Groves (Robert Shayne – misspelled in the credits as ‘Robert Shane’) is driven to the brink by the ridicule of his colleagues regarding his outlandish theories about the origin of man. Groves resents man’s inherent ego, and thinks Neanderthals had bigger brains—at least I think that’s what it is.
Groves develops a serum that causes animals to regress to their previous evolutionary forms. After turning his house cat into a Sabre-toothed Tiger, and his deaf maid into a cave-woman, Groves turns the syringe on himself with disastrous results. It’s a pretty incoherent movie, especially by the time it gets into its third act.
The films are rather short — you can knock out both in less time it takes to watch a modern blockbuster — and feature laughable special effects. The eponymous monster of Neanderthal Man is rendered via what looks like a paper mâché mask with hair glued on the outside. Even the stop motion effects in The Beast of Hollow Mountain are rather sub-par for their time. The T-Rex model used is crude, and for some reason sticks out and wags its tongue whenever it roars.
There are no special features to speak of, but the inside of the slip cover features a few productions photos from either film. The lack of features may indicate little reverence, but at least the picture transfer is crisp and not some video dump.Whether you enjoy cheesy b-movies, or just settling in with some booze and a group of friends for a MST3K-style riff session, you’ll find Scream Factory’s latest double feature fitting. Otherwise I’d say give it a rent.