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Film / The Beast of Hollow Mountain

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The Beast of Hollow Mountain is a 1956 Weird West film starring Guy Madison. It was the first-ever giant monster movie in color, beating out the Toho blockbuster Rodan by a matter of months.

Amidst rumors that the eponymous mountain outside a small village in Mexico may be cursed as farmers and their cattle never return from it, American rancher Jimmy Ryan (Madison) butts heads with the hard-headed Enrique (who believes that Jimmy is trying to steal away his fiance, Sarita), pals around with fellow rancher Pancho and his son Panchito, and attempts to solve the mystery of why people and animals who wander into Hollow Mountain never seem to return. He and his friends eventually discover that a Tyrannosaurus Rex lives there, and havoc ensues.

This movie was featured in the fifth episode of the reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Tropes pertaining to said episode can be found here.

Tropes found in this movie include:

  • Animal Stampede: A cattle stampede is caused by the T. Rex shortly before the climax.
  • The Alcoholic: Pancho "drinks to forget his wife"...but it's likely he'd drink anyway. This is Played for Laughs.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The theropod dinosaur is seen lifting a man... indeed, it appears to be strangling him... with its tiny little arms.
  • Beef Bandage: After his fight with Enrique, Felipe hands Jimmy a raw steak which he puts on his black eye while talking to Don Pedro
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Enrique is willing to do anything to undermine Jimmy's business. Even when he actually wins and Jimmy plans to leave town at Sarita's insistence, he still tries to cause a stampede to steal Jimmy's cattle.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Enrique is strangled to death by the dinosaur. Gypsy remarks that it must be the only instance of that sort of death in all of Hollywood.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: While it's hardly uncommon for a western Love Triangle to end with one of the competitors dying, this film is the first to have one of them choked to death by a dinosaur.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Much like fellow Mystery Science Theater 3000-riffed movie Avalanche, the movie is mostly spent on introducing the characters and their relationships with each other before the eponymous beast actually appears in full in the last act. In fact you could cut the monster out entirely and the only plot hole would be how Pancho and Enrique died.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: The titular beast. The film is a typical generic Western for the first three quarters, and then, out of nowhere, a dinosaur attacks. If one wasn't aware of the title or pitched premise one would be left with the impression that some crazy meddling executive shoehorned a T rex into an otherwise ordinary Mexican romance.
  • Enemy Mine: When the dinosaur pops up during Jimmy and Enrique's climactic showdown, they immediately call an unspoken truce.
  • Genre Shift: The first two thirds of the movie is a standard western drama. It doesn't become a monster movie until the final act.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Almost every sentence, especially from Jimmy. Which wouldn't be too bad if he didn't have about 8 different ways of pronouncing his best friend Felipe's name, all of them wrong (usually settling in somewhere around "Fellupy", as in rhymes with Penelope).
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Enrique's main problem. While Jimmy is legitimately doing things like undercutting Enrique's business and hitting on his fiancee, Enrique massively overreacts to all of it. He screams at his fiancee just for talking to the guy, starts fist fights in the middle of town, and at the end plans to start a cattle stampede in the middle of town just to get the better of his rival. Sarita probably wouldn't even be tempted to spend so much time with Jimmy if Enrique wasn't such a complete ass.
  • He's Just Hiding: In-universe: Panchito adamantly refuses to believe that his father is dead and goes into the Hollow Mountain in search of him. It nearly results in him being killed by the dinosaur. It's not helped by Jimmy outright lying to him, insisting that his father is still alive and wandering the swamp, but that Panchito can't go look for him.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Despite coming close to it several times, Panchito is able to survive all of his encounters with the dinosaur.
  • Karma Houdini: Subverted, but only barely. For all of Enrique's Jerkass tendencies throughout the movie, and even at the end when he bluntly (and remorselessly) confesses to his outright villainy, the other characters never give him more than a mild rebuke. He even seems on the verge of making peace with Jimmy during their Enemy Mine moment at the climax. The dinosaur thinks differently. Exit Enrique.
  • Left Hanging: The movie abruptly ends after the defeat of the dinosaur, with no details about what happened to the surviving main characters (such as Jimmy, Sarita, or Panchito) afterwards, or how the people back in town react to Enrique's death or even if Panchito ever accepted his father's death.
  • Living Dinosaurs: Turns out that a Tyrannosaurus Rex was living in Hollow Montain.
  • The Load: Pancho is such a pathetic waste of a human being that Panchito, his young son, takes care of him rather than the reverse.
  • Love Triangle: While Sarita is marrying Enrique, she also grows more and more attracted to Jimmy, who wants her for himself.
  • Mighty Whitey: Jimmy is the most competent and rational member of the cast and the only one who believes that there is a reasonable explanation behind the mystery of Hollow Mountain. Most of the locals are too afraid to check. In the end, he is the one who ultimately does the monster in as the rest of the cast watches. He also hooks up with Sarita after Enrique is killed by the dinosaur.
  • Missing Mom: Panchito's mother passed away some time before the events of the movie, and Pancho drinks heavily because of it. Then Panchito's father dies as well.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Jimmy is afraid of hurting Panchito by telling him the truth about his father's death, and instead insists that Pancho is still alive and searching the swamp for his lost cattle, and tells everyone else to tell him this too. As a direct result, Panchito runs into the swamp to search for his father and almost becomes the Beast's lunch. By the time someone does finally tell him the truth, he's become so convinced in the lie that he can't possibly believe it. To be fair, Panchito might have refused to believe it even if he wasn't lied to, but Jimmy's lies certainly didn't help.
  • Quicksand Sucks: The tar pit equivalent, which threatens both the human and non-human occupants of the area. Jimmy tricks the T-rex into stepping into it and drowning to death in the film's climax.
  • Rancher: Jimmy and Felipe own their own ranch, a point of tension with fellow rancher Enrique.
  • Runaway Bride: Sarita is in the middle of enacting this trope straight before the wedding is interrupted by the monster-induced stampede and Panchito's escape to try and locate his father.
  • The Seven Western Plots: This movie would be an unremarkable, run of the mill Ranch story if it wasn't for the dinosaur.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Jimmy throws a knife at the dinosaur while hanging from a rope in the swamp. He nails it right between the eyes.
  • Villain Ball: Enrique essentially wins the feud between himself and Jimmy when Jimmy decides to cede the girl to his rival and leave town after finishing this year's cattle drive. But Enrique decides he can't live with Jimmy having any sort of profit from his time in Mexico and sends some of his men to stampede Jimmy's herd so that he can't sell it. This puts Enrique and his men in a position to be attacked by the dinosaur.
  • Weird West: An early entry in the genre, and the first to feature a dinosaur.
  • What a Drag: When Pancho's horse is startled by firecrackers, it bolts and Pancho falls off. He gets his foot caught in the stirrup and is dragged along behind the horse until he is saved by a passing American.
  • Widowed at the Wedding: Sarita begs Jimmy to leave town because she knows the feud between himself and her fiance Enrique will only end with one of them dead, and she explicitly states she doesn't want to be "widowed on [her] wedding day." Which happens anyway thanks to the titular monster!