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Film / The Beast of Yucca Flats

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The Beast of Yucca Flats. A film by Coleman Francis.

Joseph Javorsky. Noted scientist. Played by Tor Johnson. Defected from Soviet Russia. Hunted by KGB. Walks onto a nuclear test site. Touch a button. Things happen. The A-bomb. A man becomes a beast.

No-one talks — the camera didn't have sound gear. A narrator. Unable to speak in full sentences. Flag on the moon. How did it get there? Nothing to do with movie. A plot point abandoned.

A topless woman is strangled. Nothing to do with the rest of the movie.

The beast kills a couple on vacation. Caught in the wheels of progress. People hunt the beast. Climb a mountain, then give up.

Boys from the city. Not yet caught up in the whirlwind of progress. A guy gets shot from a plane. Man's inhumanity to man. Beast is finally killed.

Next Sunday A.D.. A man and some robots in space. They riff the movie. People laugh. Tropers recap riffing here.


Tropes on the page. How did they get there?:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • Remembering the film was made nearly a decade before Apollo 11, the storyline about the mystery of Russians apparently reaching the moon first would have made a good movie. Too bad it's totally forgotten about after the nuke goes off.
    • Remember the father who was nearly shot to death by the police sniper? He vanishes from the movie after recruiting a few townsfolk to hunt for his missing kids. And if there are any repercussions for the cop's "shoot first" procedure, it's never indicated.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Basically the Central Theme of the film.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Joseph Javorsky. Noted scientist."
    • "Caught in the wheels of progress" or variations thereof.
  • Artistic License – Politics: If the Soviet Union actually got to the moon ahead of the United States, they would sooner embrace capitalism, McCarthyism, and McDonald's than keep it a secret; they would make sure every news station and newspaper on the planet announces and reports on the Soviet moon-landing. Along with their launching the first satellite and being the first nation to send a man to space and bring him back, being the first country to put humanity on the moon would mean the USSR flat-out wins the Space Race, the obvious showcase that socialist Soviet technology is years ahead of that of the capitalist United States plus the resulting crushing blow to the rivalling capitalism of the United States are two of many reasons the USSR would have for making sure every eye and ear on the planet knows of their accomplishment.
  • Author Appeal:
    • All three of Coleman Francis' films have featured a vigilante shooting of a character. In one of them, The Skydivers, Coleman was the sniper; in another, Red Zone Cuba, it was Coleman who got sniped.
    • Why exactly does the film have that weird unrelated prologue? Well, Francis just happened to like nudie shots a great deal, so he included one on that justification alone.
  • Beige Prose: The narration is this, as it consists mainly of sentence fragments and vague descriptions. Most infamously "Flag on the moon, how did it get there?" (To be fair, it would have been spookier in 1961.)
  • Bloodless Carnage: Two characters get shot — multiple times — but there's no blood in evidence. The Beast's kills are also totally without gore. If not for the nude scene at the start, the film barely qualifies as PG.
  • Bronson Canyon and Caves: Where most of the movie was shot.
  • Bottomless Magazines:
    • The deputy shoots a single-shot bolt-action rifle from the plane again and again and again and again without once stopping to reload.
    • Averted in the shootout between the KGB agents and Javorsky's bodyguard; we're treated to a long sequence where he clumsily reloads his revolver.
      Crow: Just don't shoot while I'm reloading, that wouldn't be fair!
  • Children Are Innocent: They're not yet caught in the whirlwind of progress.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Flag on the moon. How did it get there? Though, in this case, the Fauxlosophic Narration has some meaning: a top secret Russian moon landing of course! No, really; that's the secret with evidence being smuggled in the briefcase at the beginning if you pay attention.
  • Dull Surprise: Several people are strangled over the course of the movie. None of them try to scream or fight back, instead they seem to just give up and accept death within the first second.
  • Dying as Yourself: After the narrator's repetition of how Javorsky was a kind man until he became the Beast, the scene with the rabbit works as an example of this trope. note 
  • Face–Monster Turn: The titular Beast was once a scientist named Javorsky, working for the betterment of mankind before getting caught in an atomic bomb blast and becoming a murderous mutant.
  • Fanservice:
    • The topless actress in the opening murder has basically nothing to do with the movie's plot. Coleman apparently just thought a nudie scene would be edgy, considering the weakening of The Hays Code during The '60s.
    • The deputy's wife/girlfriend serves a similar fashion, as she appears to only be in the film in order to flash some skin as she gets out of — and then immediately back into — bed.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: Trope on the page. How did it get there? The narration is basically entirely this. Things like the "wheels of progress" are name-dropped, but never elaborated upon.
  • Filming for Easy Dub: Beast of Yucca Flats was recorded silent, and the dialogue dubbed in later, so in the few cases where people do talk they're either off-screen or far enough away from the camera that we can't see their mouths moving anyway.
  • He Knows Too Much: The KGB agents at the start are under orders to kill Javorsky for this reason.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: An atomic bomb turns Joseph Javorsky into The Beast, a super-strong and incredibly tough killing machine.
  • I Love the Dead:
    • It is heavily implied that the killer at the start of The Beast of Yucca Flats abuses the woman's corpse.
    • The young woman the the beast takes to his cave, while not quite dead yet, appears to hold some fascination for the former man.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • "Joseph Javorsky. Noted scientist." It's first said to introduce his character, then repeated after his transformation to re-enforce the fact that he used to be a kind man.
    • "Shoot first. Ask questions later."
  • Must Have Caffeine: It wouldn't be a Coleman Francis film without a character needing coffee.
  • Pet the Dog: As mentioned in Dying as Yourself above, the Beast kisses a rabbit before expiring.
  • R-Rated Opening: A topless woman is killed by someone in the opening scene. There is no connection to the rest of the film. (The man who kills her bears no physical resemblance to Tor Johnson's character and lacks the Beast's scarred hands.)
  • Science Is Bad: Apparently, according to the narrator, Joseph Javorsky tried to use science for good, but the evil it wrought overwhelmed and transformed him. As the wheels of progress turn, his fate will be the fate of us all. Or something...
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Throughout the entirety of the movie, the soundtrack is blaring stock cues that often clash with the "nothing" going on onscreen.
  • Stop, or I Will Shoot!: Taken to the worst extreme. A sniper is sent up in a plane to bring down the suspected killer and starts shooting at a family dad who was looking for help for his family stranded on vacation. Naturally, the dad starts running, convincing the shooter he's found the guilty party. (The letter of the trope is inverted as the sniper is explicitly instructed to shoot to kill on sight, despite the risk of shooting an innocent.)