Surprisingly, The Black Scorpion is not a giant creature-feature directed by Bert I. Gordon, though like many of its kind, does indeed take place in Mexico. The setting should be the last thing on your mind when watching this though, as it does not impact just how enjoyable this little horror film is. The premise is also a little different than most films that had come out around this time, though it is closer in nature to The Deadly Mantis than anything else. Here, a volcano erupts after an earthquake and as it does, it lets loose a swarm of giant scorpions upon the populace and it is up to Dr. Scott and Dr. Velasco to put a stop to them before it is too late. Of course, this movie would not be complete without a little bit of romance going on in the background as nothing brings people together quite like the threat of imminent death.
To handle the special effects in the film, Willis O’Brien would be the man called upon and for the most part, they were quite good. The only time the magic would be lost is whenever the camera would pan to the creature’s face which looked utterly ridiculous. Out of everything in the movie, that part was probably unnecessary and could have been left out. The audience understands that these scorpions are gigantic and dangerous and a shot of their face will not make it any more so. There were some exceptional scenes that really showed off these effects particularly in the caverns when the giant bugs were battling it out or near the end of the film when the king scorpion reared its head. O’Brien, who also did the stop-motion effects for King Kong, would put his skills to the test here and except for that previously mentioned gaff, would ultimately be successful in conveying the horror of these creatures.
The cast was quite good as well with Richard Denning and Mara Corday taking the lead spots in the film. Denning would not bring anything new to the role, he would simply take what was given him which was your stock-and-trade good guy, and would do the best he could with it. Corday was fine as well, though not as good as she was in other films such as Tarantula, but she definitely adds to any picture she graces. Carlos Rivas was all right, but the delivery of his lines felt a little forced at times and Carlos Múzquiz was good for what little time he had in the movie. The cast might have been a lot better had the script been stronger, as it was riddled with clichés and whatnot. The story was fine, as was the dialogue, but the characters were a little cookie-cutter and while the film was a little more original than some of the other monster movies, the characters were not.
All in all, the film is a win. It was highly enjoyable and even exciting at times, though they could have cut at least ten minutes off the running time to make it flow just a bit smoother. Edward Ludwig did a fine job of direction while Lionel Lindon did just as well on the cinematography front and the film looked great in black and white. Robert Blees and David Duncan can be credited for writing the film, both its good and bad points, and though it might have been a bit predictable, it did not take away from the finished product. Stacked up against other giant monster movies, the film holds its own. Definitely a film that should be on your radar if in the mood for something like this.
First entry – Giant Monster Gamera (1965)
Second entry – The Monolith Monsters (1957)
Third entry – Gamera vs. Barugon (1966)
Fourth entry – Tarantula (1955)
Fifth Entry – Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967)
Sixth entry – Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)
Seventh Entry – Gamera vs. Viras (1968)
Eighth entry – The Cyclops (1957)
Ninth entry – Gamera vs. Guiron (1969)
Tenth entry – Monsters (2010)
Eleventh entry – Gamera vs. Jiger (1970)
Twelth entry – The Killer Shrews (1959)
Thirteenth entry – Gamera vs. Zigra (1971)
Fourteenth Entry – The Deadly Mantis (1957)
Fifteenth Entry – Space Monster Gamera (1980)
Sixteenth entry – King Dinosaur (1955)
Seventeenth entry – Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)