A test rocket containing scientific experiments, including a wasps' nest, crashes in the jungles of Africa. Radiation from outer space infects the wasps, creating a hive of titanic atomic mutations as big as a house. These... more » hideous creatures have an appetite for human flesh and proceed to munch their way across the dark continent. An expedition of scientists are sent to investigate the strange happenings and native disappearances. Volcanic thrills come rocketing to the screen as science once again creates mutations born out of the radioactive world of the Atomic Age.« less
"Do you like stock footage? Do you like scenes of people walking around aimlessly for what seems like hours on end? Then Monster from Green Hell is the movie for you, brother.
Directed by Kenneth Crane, probably most notable for The Manster (1962), The Monster from Green Hell tells the story of scientific experimentation gone horribly awry and is brought to us by Image Entertainment from the Wade Williams Collection (I gotta see this guy's movie library sometime).
The film starts out with some hokey voice over, and then scientists sending various animals, bugs, etc. into outer space in a number of rocket ships so that they may study the effect of cosmic radiation on living creatures. The end result will be to determine if it is safe to send humans into the great unknown. Seems a problem occurs in one rocket, the one with the wasps, and this craft crashes into the continent of Africa. The wasps, exposed to cosmic radiation for an extended period of time, mutate and soon begin to endanger all life within an area that the natives call Green Hell. It seems unclear as to why this area was given this name, as I got the idea it had that name even before the mutant wasps entered the picture. Anyway, two of the scientists involved in the project hear of trouble in the area they suspect their errant ship went down, and decide to investigate. And thus begins the walking...and stock footage...and more walking...and more stock footage....and more...well, you get the idea. I did enjoy the scene where the group including the scientists ran into a particularly angry tribe of natives, and what they did to escape.
Monster from the Green Hell stars Jim Davis, who many will probably know as Jock Ewing from TV's Dallas, as Dr. Quent Brady, as one of the scientists tracking the giant wasps. Also starring is Barbara Turner, whom you may not recognize, but has a more famous daughter that you may know, Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is not in this movie. So they find the wasps, and stuff happens. Do we see people getting pierced with giant stingers, ripped apart, and eaten by the mutant wasps? Sadly, no...the wasps do make appearances, but sometimes they are as big as a car, and then other times they are as big as a house. We never get to see one swoop down from the skies and steal away people, but rather they more or less slink around bushes and shrubberies spying on people. They didn't look half bad, considering this was most likely a fairly low budget movie. The most painful thing about this movie for me was Jim Davis. Between his many voice overs throughout the movie, and his wooden performance, I kept hoping a mutant bug would deliver him to a better place, or, at least out of this movie.
Use of the stock footage was quite copious, but I will say it was used in such a way as to try and really compliment the action that was supposed to be happening on the screen. Reaction shots from various animals seemed to fit in nicely many times. The music was also pretty decent, complimenting what, if anything, was happening. What really slowed the movie down were all the scenes of the characters walking. Walking through the jungle, walking through the desert, walking through caves...ugh...it took a movie that ran 70 minutes and made it feel like three hours. I am sure I would have probably suffered sympathy pains in my feet except the only pain I was feeling throughout the film was the dull spike of boredom in my brain.
The picture quality is decent, with a number of noticeable, yet, minor flaws in the print. I doubt anyone is rushing this through a restoration process, so I would bet this is as good a copy as you may ever see of this film. No real special features, except the inclusion of five trailers for some more cheapies, most notable The Brain from Planet Arous. These are slightly hidden, but easy to find. If you have an atomic-sized appetite for cheaply made giant bug movies, then, by all means, get this movie, but if not, enter at your own risk.
Fine DVD of lethargic big bug/jungle flick for diehards only
Surfink | Racine, WI | 08/10/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Monster from Green Hell is probably the most watchable entry in the micro-genre of "jungle science fiction movies " (even deadlier examples include The Unknown Terror and The Flame Barrier), but it's sure to be rough going for all but the most dedicated bad-film fanatic. The pacing throughout can only be described as leaden. Director Kenneth Crane (Half Human, The Manster) can't blame the editor; he cut it himself. There is also, unfortunately, a relative dearth of those so-awful-it's-great moments that cheap-movie addicts live for. Even fans of producer Al Zimbalist's bona-fide camp classics (i.e., Cat Women of the Moon, Robot Monster) are going to have to scrape for their fun here. Jim Davis, familiar from zillions of movie westerns, TV westerns, and coffee commercials, is Dr. Quent (yes, Quent) Brady (check that greasy kid stuff in his hair); Robert Griffin (I Was a Teenage Werewolf) is fellow scientist Dan Morgan; and Joel Fluellen (Jackie Robinson Story, White Goddess, Riot in Cell Block 11), as Arobi, actually plays that rarity in pre-1960s movies, a black (African) man with dignity and intelligence (one of the film's few pleasant surprises). The male leads smoke a lot (Dan even offers Quent a cigarette in his hospital bed), joke around with live grenades, and exchange some fairly Wood-en dialogue ("I don't know, I may be way off base on this thing." "But you don't think you are, and that's important!"), and Barbara Turner as Dr. Lorentz's daughter Lorna has to be the strangest, most unappealing "heroine" ever. She comes across as a dour, moody, hyperreligious whiner. Where's Beverly Garland when you really need her? Anyway, Quent and Dan are working on an experimental small-animal rocket mission (their bus-sized computer will please knob-and-dial freaks), when the missile crashes somewhere in Africa. An expedition to recover the rocket and its contents is mounted by Dr. Lorentz, played by Vladimir Sokoloff (Teenage Werewolf, Beyond the Time Barrier, Mr. Sardonicus). Fortunately, they don't make you wait until the finish to get a glimpse of the giant mutant wasps; they munch a couple of victims fairly early on. But a good chunk of the movie consists of monotonous trudging through the jungle (most of it courtesy of voluminous stock footage), and much of the 'action' that occurs is coincidentally very inexpensive (the poisoned water hole, the rain storm), happens offscreen (the monsters' attack on Dr. Lorentz), or is accomplished via still more stock footage (the native attack, various animal attacks), with the notable exception of a brief animated snake/wasp battle. Dr. Lorentz's death leads to a minor outbreak of pseudophilosophical discussion and the expedition's native guides soon desert them as they near "Green Hell." They finally meet up with a horde of the giant wasps, which are realized through a combination of life-sized mockups and animated models. Their droning sounds a lot like power tools, and some are shown in negative. Though obviously done on a shoestring, by Jack Rabin and Louis DeWitt (Kronos, War of the Satellites, Atomic Submarine), the animated wasps are oddly effective, kind of like one of those cheesy Outer Limits "bears." There is an unsettling quality to them as they loom up over the mountains during the climax. Much confusion in and around Bronson Canyon ensues and the wasps are finally destroyed (while the scientists just sit and watch) in a hokey finish boasting even less convincing "special effects" than the rest of the movie, and capped by a moment of maudlin religiosity. Fans of VERY cheap jungle movies and/or big bug movies will probably find a painless, if rather slow, 70 minutes of mild amusement here; all others, well, consider yourselves warned.
Image's DVD, like others in their Wade Williams series, looks as good as anyone could expect for a movie of this genre and budget. There is some light speckling and blemishing throughout (a little bit heavier at the very beginning and during some of the stock footage), and a bit of light lining near the beginning also, but this clears up pretty quickly and the majority of the film thereafter looks great. Black level, contrast/brightness, tonal values, shadow/highlight detail, and sharpness are generally excellent (except again in some of the stock footage). It's unlikely we'll ever see a better print and transfer. (There is another version out on a triple-feature DVD on some no-name label that can probably be assumed is the usual PD junk.) Five other Wade Williams trailers are found in a cookie, and the theatrical trailer for the feature is accessed by clicking on the wasp in the middle of the screen. While suffering from the usual speckling, blemishing, and lining, the MFGH trailer looks generally very good to excellent, if a bit soft. A fairly expensive package considering the limited extras (Image's pricing strategy eludes me sometimes) but if you're into seriously mind-numbing poverty-stricken 1950s monster trash (like I am), an essential addition to the collection nonetheless."
AND I WOULD WALK 400 MILES
Thomas E. O'Sullivan | Knoxville, Maryland United States | 06/09/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"MONSTER FROM GREEN HELL is a diffcult movie to like, much less enjoy. Even for the lower B sci-fi/monster movies made in the 50's, this one goes out on a limb to let you know that it's not afraid to try and bore you. Virtually nothing happens in this film - while the monsters are well relaized for the near zero budget, and have a kind of grace and terror, they would have worked better if they actually had a few more scenes. Most of this movie is taken up by stilted conversations, flat performances (the leading lady and drip dry love interest in this film stands out as being the most flat, emotionless and phoned in performance of the entire cast, she has to be seen to be beleived) and a second act which finds our hero's (and that is a very loose term) walking over four hundred miles across Africa to get to Green Hell to actually (finally) confront our monsters (and for a film that runs a mere 70 mins, this second act takes up almost more than half of the entire film). But during this we are treated to numerous stock footage shots, typical Tarzan pitfalls, and rumblings from a valcano which is actually our true hero in this film - as it is the thing that actually destroys the monsters. On the plus side, MONSTER FROM GREEN HELL does have an original idea, and it does try to cross two types of films (the monster picture and Africian adventure), but it does nothing with it. MONSTER FROM GREEN HELL is recommended for serious collectors of the genre only, and even they will only want it to complete their library - like I did. As for the casual viewer, rent, but do not buy."
Missing Color Footage on DVD
G. Shoemaker | Toledo, OH` | 06/16/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with everything the other reviewers have said about this film, but they have failed to mention that the color climax footage included in the film's original theatrical release is in black and white on the DVD while the VHS version does include it."
What would Jock Ewing do in a fight with giant wasps?
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 02/06/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The title of this low-budget 1958 monster movie is a little on the vague side. For one thing, there is not "a monster" but several monsters, a whole colony of them-what we have here are radioactive, gigantic wasps. Green Hell turns out to be a remote section of land in the interior of eastern Africa. All the trouble starts when the (or at least a) space agency launches a rocket occupied by a number of different test animals, including wasps, into space. The purpose is to test the effect of radiation on living creatures as a precursor for future manned space flights. The rocket malfunctions and does not return to earth as scheduled. Time goes by, and then reports of chaos in eastern Africa begin to appear in the press. Convinced that the radioactive rocket must be responsible for the trouble, the scientists (apparently the only two employees of the whole space agency) fly out there and embark on a really long, really boring trek through the jungles to get to the remote site. By the time they get to the nearest village to Green Hell, the white missionary/doctor and several natives have already died at the hands of obviously fake, gigantic wasps. By now convinced that the giant wasps are in fact real and that their wayward rocket is pretty much responsible for the whole mess, the scientists take along the useless, boring daughter of the dead doctor and a couple of brave Africans and seek to track the creatures down and destroy the queen before she produces enough offspring to kill every living thing on the continent. Although I hardly recognized him at first, the heroic Dr. Quent Brady is played by Jim Davis, better known as that man's man Jock Ewing on TV's Dallas. He's not enough to really save this film, however (and his voice-over journal notes often drag the movie's already slow pace). The giant wasps really aren't that impressive, and I'm still a little befuddled at the remarks of Quent that the tracks they find are definitely wasp tracks; I wasn't really aware that wasps leave tracks. Oh, well. Mainly what you get here is plenty of stock footage of African wildlife and a whole lot of walking-walking in the desert, walking in the jungle, walking in Lippert-like abundance. The final payoff is also a real clunker, taking what little wind this movie has in its sails and dispersing it in the winds of B-movie oblivion."