Thursday, March 26, 2015

Weird West Week: The Beast of Hollow Mountain

Welcome back lil' doggies to Day 3 of Weird West Week. Boy howdy this one is a bit of the strange but well keeping into the theme of the week, our story involves an American cowboy tending a ranch out in the Mexican territory. A wretched hive of scum and villainy(just kidding) as several of his cows have gone missing. Leading a team of cowboys to investigate it all seems to connect to an unexplored mountain said to be cursed according to the local villagers. This is The Beast of Hollow Mountain.

Hmm think Speilberg went a little cheap this time.

Cowboy/ranchman Jimmy Ryan (Guy Madison of Red Snow [1952], The Last Frontier, On the Threshold of Space, The Hard Man, Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, Gunmen of Rio Grande and Five for Revenge) finds himself in quite the pickle as his livestock has gone missing with huge, massive tracks leading away from the granging area. With a posse of 4, Ryan leads the investigation following a path of destruction that leads to Hollow Mountain alongside the swamps that interconnects the land. While checking on the cattle, ranch hand Fellipe (Carlos Rivas of Bonanaza, True Grit, The Undefeated, Topaz, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, The New Adventures of Zorror and Mi vida loca) tells Ryan the tales of the land of a strange beast said to reside in the valley and returns to reek havoc on the lands until its blood-lust is sated.

As they head back they see another ranch as a pack of dumb preteens toss fire crackers spooking horses and cause the ranch owner Pancho (Pascual Garcia Pena of Hidden Paradise, El Zorro vengador, House of the Frights, Los parranderos, Bring Me the Vampire, las mascara de jade, Youth Without Law and The Bandits) to be thrown from his horse and drug in front of his son Panchito (Mario Navarro of The Road of Life, The Black Scorpion, Villa!!, Bolero inmortal and The Magnificent Seven) aiding him from getting bounced around all the terrain.

I bemused by this plucky stranger.

Immediately falling for Don Pedro's daughter Sarita (Patricia Medina of Stranger at My Door, Miami Expose, Zorror, Count Your Blessings, Latitude Zero and Timber Tramps) and is disturbed to find out an wealthy, loathsome ranch owner is chasing after Sarita offering to watch over her father's ranch in return for her hand in marriage and told Jimmy to go back to Texas to ranch.

With the constant squabbling from Enrique the rancher (Eduardo Noriega of Deadly Reef, Mad Drivers, Mojados, Guyana: Cult of the Damned, El hombre sin miedo and Zorro: The Gay Blade) and Jimmy it is getting so the tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Pancho decides to continue looking for the lost cattle, tells Panchito to let Jimmy know where he went into the swamp if he does not return by dusk. A loud roar terrifies Pancho and something attacks him.

Fearing the worse, the fellas watch after Panchito before he drops him off to Don Pedro's home and leaves to see off his cattle for shipment. Panchito escapes the house and heads back to the swamps to find his father. Ryan, Enrique and a few others go out to find the boy and encounter a large reptile of prehistoric standing. The Allosaurus proceeds to chase down the horse riders and all hell breaks loose. Can the cowboys stop this massive monster? Will Panchito be saved?

A few points of interest in our movie. Practical effects artist Willis H. O'Brien developed the stop motion creature making it about two feet high and full articulated in over 50 points allowing the creature to move about, clamp his jaws and breathe heavily with an air compression tube.

This is the first film to use stop motion animation with the anamorphic lens or Cinemascope and in Technicolor as well. It has been shot in both Spanish and English with Guy Madison dubbed as his Spanish was barely passible. Aside from a bit of the slapstick drunk antics, this had all the Western themes of fist fights, gunplay and a serious vibe to this monster movie. 3 for 3 this week.

Why yes I am incredibly handsome and rugged.