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Film / The Black Scorpion

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The Black Scorpion is a 1957 giant monster movie directed by Edward Ludwig.

When a volcano in Mexico erupts, Dr. Hank Scott (Richard Denning) and his partner Dr. Arturo Ramos (Carlos Rivas) venture out to perform a geological survey. When they do so, they discover a destroyed house and police car, as well as an abandoned baby.

Continuing on with the baby to the village of San Lorenzo, they learn that villagers have disappeared, that livestock have been killed, that homes have been destroyed and that strange roars have been heard in the night. The villagers suspect all this to be the work of demonic bulls. Scott also meets and falls in love with local rancher Teresa Alvarez (B-Movie scream queen Mara Corday) and makes friends with a young boy named Juanito.

One night, the cause of all the trouble is revealed; giant prehistoric scorpions that were released from the cavern they lived in by the volcano. Although the cave is successfully sealed after an expedition into its depths, the largest scorpion manages to escape, wherein it makes its way to Mexico City for a final showdown...

The special effects, by Willis O'Brien of King Kong (1933) fame, were considered cutting edge back in the day it was released.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode see here.

This film provides examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: The weak spot of the scorpions is in their throats.
  • Artistic License Biology: Scorpions do not roar, but it helps make these giant ones more menacing. The close-up shots of the scorpions' faces also look nothing like real scorpion faces, which is strange because the faces on the stop-motion models look fine.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The film features giant scorpions raiding farms and villages, and then attacking Mexico City.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: Attack of the killer giant scorpions.
  • Big Bad: While there are several giant scorpions, the plot focuses on a particularly large one that ruthlessly kills off its smaller kin and becomes the main antagonist for the climax.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The film has giant worms, spiders, and scorpions, all from prehistoric times.
  • B-Movie: Don't take this movie too seriously and you'll have fun with it.
  • Cool Big Bro: Hank to Juanito.
  • Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks: The only thing Dr. de la Cruz uses his test tubes for is to make tequila.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: There's the occasional phrase like Teresa telling her co-workers "vámonos" to tell them to hustle to the volcano.
  • Immune to Bullets: The scorpions pretty much are. When the time comes to take out the huge one rampaging through Mexico, the only effective weapon is a big spear connected to a lot of electricity (and it tears apart a lot of tanks and helicopters and soldiers to get it into position).
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: A soldier fires a giant makeshift taser at the killer scorpion, and not only does he miss the target, he kills himself trying to reload the cannon. It's up to Dr. Scott, a geologist, to finish the job.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: The largest scorpion kills the smaller ones near the end, making the task of getting rid of all the scorpions a lot easier for the protagonists.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Corday is supposed to be Mexican, and doesn't try any form of Spanish accent.
  • Prehistoric Monster: A rarity among '50s giant monsters, the scorpions and other giant arthropods aren't mutations, just prehistoric animals released from underground by an earthquake (giant scorpions really did exist during prehistory, but obviously none got close to the size of the ones in the film).
  • Pretty in Mink: Teresa normally dresses in sensible ranch clothes, but when going to Mexico City, she dresses up, including a mink wrap and white fur hat.
  • Scary Scorpions: Giant ones, that go after livestock and people.
  • Shock and Awe: The key to destroying the scorpions is to rig an armor-piercing shell with electrical cables and shoot it into the last scorpion's neck to electrocute it.
  • South of the Border: The film takes place around Mexico City. It's actually a US-Mexico co-production.
  • Tagalong Kid: Juanito, who stows away with the heroes' expedition to find the killer scorpions; he even refers to himself as a stowaway. Ostensibly he's come along to help, although what exactly he thinks he can contribute is never brought up even to be dismissed. He graduates to full-blown Load status when he stows away again with the heroes' expedition down into the scorpion cavern, where he is menaced by the monsters and must be rescued.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The army tries killing the scorpion with an electrified cannon shell (essentially, a giant taser). After it fails, a soldier reels the shell back by its cord, and then he holds it in his hands without first telling the team by the generator to turn the power off. He gets electrocuted.