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Film / The Hideous Sun Demon

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"Excuse me, miss, I need to use the phone!"

A 1958 Sci-Fi Horror B-Movie produced, directed and cowritten by Robert Clarke, who also starred as the title character. Originally titled Sauros, the story was envisioned as taking place in Guatemala where an expedition seeking uranium deposits encounters a man turned into a monster, it was rewritten to take place in the United States instead due to budget problems, and the monster was also made the main character.

Dr. Gilbert McKenna (Clarke), a research scientist, suffers a lab accident which causes him to turn into a reptilian monster whenever exposed to direct sunlight. Unable to deal with the stress of his predicament, Gil goes to drown his sorrows in a bar, where he meets a singer named Trudy Osborne (Nan Peterson). Staying indoors during the day and only going out at night, he attempts to lead a normal life, dating Trudy while his colleagues Frederick Buckell (Patrick Whyte) and Ann Russell (Patricia Manning) and radiation-poisoning expert Dr. Jacob Hoffman (Fred La Porta) try to find a cure for him.

But his world comes crashing down when Trudy's jealous wannabe mobster boyfriend George Messorio (Peter Similuk) interferes and attempts to run Gil out of Trudy's life — during the daytime. After transforming and strangling George, Gil goes on a good old-fashioned (if modestly budgeted) monster rampage. His colleagues struggle to help save him from himself, while the police want to hunt him down.

The movie was redubbed into a comedy version titled Revenge of the Sun Demon (also known as What's Up, Hideous Sun Demon? although it has never been released under this title). On YouTube, FredFlix transformed the movie into a pseudo-episode of The Outer Limits (1963), complete with vintage 1963 commercials. Film historian Tom Weaver wrote an excellent book about the film as Volume #1 of his Scripts from the Crypt series, featuring extensive background information about the film as well both versions of the script, including Sauros. Volume #2 will be Indestructible Man.

It was riffed by Rifftrax in 2015.

Tropes used in this film:

  • Accidental Murder: Gil accidentally hits a cop with his car while fleeing. Although Lt. Peterson calls an ambulance, later dialogue states that Gil has killed two people. Since the only other person we've seen him kill onscreen up to then is George, it's a safe bet the officer didn't make it. This is confirmed in Tom Weaver's book.
  • All There in the Script: It never made it into the film, but apparently in the script the name of the cop described above was Willis.
  • Artistic License – Biology: It is explained that Gil's problem is that the sun causes him to regress to a reptilian stage of humanity's evolution. Dr. Stern even "explains" that human fetuses go through fish, amphibian and reptilian evolution while developing in the womb.
  • Asshole Victim: George. He and his thugs literally beat Gil within an inch of his life for trying to stand up to them when George aggressively insists that Trudy go with him when she instead wanted to go with Gil.
  • Badass Bystander: The last of the cops who chases the Sun Demon at the end. He's the only character in the movie to hold his own against the monster.
  • Chase Scene: At the end. A small girl ends up finding Gil and tells her mother, who calls the cops, and they give chase right after he gives the kid back to her mom.
  • Climbing Climax: The Sun Demon flees up to the top of a gasometer.
  • Cool Car: Gil's 1956 MG A convertible is driven throughout the film.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: George is insanely jealous and suspicious of any man who even so much as speaks to Trudy.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Gil suffers one after he returns to human form after killing George. He cries and asks Ann what he's done to deserve such a curse.
  • Determinator: The policeman who chases the Sun Demon up to the top of the gasometer. Despite being strangled into unconsciousness, he recovers and resumes pursuing the monster, letting nothing interfere with his duty.
  • Disney Villain Death: The Sun Demon falls off the gasometer after being shot.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Dr. Buckell is often seen smoking one.
  • Downer Ending: Gil turns into the Sun Demon and goes on a rampage, killing a lot of people. He's eventually cornered by the police, and shot off a gasometer where he falls to his death. Gil's friends are left grieving, with the possibility of his body used as a cure being left ambiguous.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Gil's response to his problem is to hit the nearest bar and drink. A lot.
  • Everybody Smokes: This being a 1950s movie, there's a lot of tobacco consumption.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Not Gil, but rather George. He and his thugs beat Gil up pretty badly just for trying to talk to Trudy.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Trudy. She doesn't seem all that attached to George, so he might just be her meal ticket until something better comes along, which is implied to be why she takes an interest in Gil.
  • Hospital Hottie: A few of the nurses, as remarked on by Gil.
  • In Love with the Gangster's Girl: Not in love, but certainly in lust—Gil makes googly eyes at Trudy in a bar and asks her to go out with him only to find out she has a very jealous gangster boyfriend who then proceed to whup his ass.
  • In Medias Res: The film begins with the lab accident having already happened.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Early on, Gil contemplates jumping off a cliff into the sea. He is stopped when he overhears some nearby teenagers having fun on the beach nearby, and decides not to go through with it.
  • My Car Hates Me: Gil's MG fails to start at one pivotal point, meaning he gets exposed to the sun again and turns into the demon.
  • Mugging the Monster: Yes, George, pull the jealous boyfriend routine on the Sun Demon. See what happens.
  • Never Gets Drunk: Gil never quite seems to get smashed, no matter how much booze he guzzles. He was however intimated to have been severely hung over while working in the lab, which is what caused the accident in the first place.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: George and his cronies rather viciously beat Gil up outside the bar at one point.
  • Nuclear Mutant: Of sorts. The accident plus the sun's rays mutate Gil into a killing machine with some traits of a reptile.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Gil turns into a monster in the sun, not during a full moon.
  • People in Rubber Suits: This being the 50s, the only technology available for Gil's transformation is a rubber suit. To be fair, it's actually a fairly good one for its time period, but certain shots don't do it any favors and make it look a lot like a rubber suit. It also has a passing resemblance to the Creature from the Black Lagoon, which premiered four years prior to this film.
  • Plummet Perspective: The chase up the gasometer at the end is pretty harrowing, with many dizzying shots from the participants' P.O.V. showing just how far down it is. At one point, the policeman's hat gets knocked off and there's a shot of it falling down to the street.
  • Punny Name: A guy named Gil gets turned into a reptile. Sure, why not. (Note: Many reptiles are semi-aquatic, so they have gills.)
  • Rage Against the Reflection: The Sun Demon smashes a mirror after seeing his reflection for the first time.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Portions of John Seely's score have been heard in countless other monster movies, most famously Night of the Living Dead (1968).
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Anyone who sees Gil is immediately afraid of him, and for good reason—he seems to be in a constant state of Hulk-esque rage and violently kills anyone he comes across.
  • Screaming Woman: Both Ann and Trudy, but it's at least understandable. The sun demon is hideous and it kills almost everything it sees.
  • Too Dumb to Live: For an unexplained reason, Gil returns to the same bar where he met Trudy and this is after they went out on a romantic drive to the beach, possibly had sex, skinny dipped, and then fell asleep, meaning when he woke up the sun was almost up so he felt he needed to abandon Trudy and drive home as fast as he could before he transformed. Naturally, the stranded Trudy was furious and told George and the boys, who then beat the living shit out of Gil while she watches approvingly. And then just to be even more confusing, she eventually tells them to stop beating him up and takes him home with her. Nobody's motivations in the entire scene make a lick of sense except for George, and even then, why did he allow Trudy to stop the beating and take the guy home if he's so jealous and possessive?
  • Tragic Monster: Gil, who involuntarily transforms into a monster and can't control himself.
  • Trailers Always Lie:
    • Some clever editing in the trailer makes it seem like the Sun Demon throws the policeman off the gasometer.
    • The trailer also claims the Sun Demon is from outer space.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer shows the death of George in its entirety.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: The Sun Demon frightens a group of children, but doesn't harm them. He does kill their dog, though. Later, Gil in his human form befriends a little girl. This is in direct contrast to the original script, where Gil tries to use Suzy (the little girl) as a Human Shield while being chased by the cops! (In the film, he ensures she gets to safety before making his run from the law.)