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The Monster that Challenged the World

(1957) Starring Tim Holt and Audrey Dalton

What if I told you that a monster once challenged the world? Pretty terrifying, right? What if I said it wasn't really the world he challenged but a large body of water in southern California? Still pretty scary! O.K. ... the monster's about 12 feet tall. And it's a snail. A 12 foot snail. "A giant snail's attacking! Run!" I mean... "A giant snail's attacking...WALK BRISKLY!"

The navy has set up a research base in the desert along the Salton Sea in southern California where top secret atomic experiments are carried out under rigid security control. Parachute missions are also conducted over the sea to experiment with the latest advancements in parachute technology. I wasn't aware parachute technology changed so rapidly! Suddenly, an earthquake rocks the desert!

The devastating effects of the quake can be seen slightly swaying a tree branch! However, the earthquake's epicenter was located at the bottom of the Salton Sea. That means underwater danger! When life on the base returns to normal, we see a paratrooper leaping from the plane (thanks to impressive stock footage) toward the sea below. But when a small navy boat attempts to retrieve him from the water, they discover he has disappeared! They find his parachute floating on the water. The navy conducts a thorough search (two guys without diving gear jump in the water and look around for 30 seconds) but it's no use, he's vanished.

Suddenly, a monstrous silhouette attacks the boat, leaving us to wonder what it could have been. Investigators discover their abandoned boat with a dead sailor and some mysterious, slimy substance on board. Suddenly, the paratrooper's shriveled corpse bobs to the surface.

Back at the lab, the coroner informs the commander the corpses have puncture wounds and they've been drained of blood and water (Oddly, noone suspects The Giant Leeches). He concludes the man on the boat had a fear-induced stroke. He was literally scared to death! The commander decides to quarantine the beach. When a scientist happens to pass by the slime sample with a Geiger counter, they discover the sample is radioactive. I guess you wouldn't normally test for radioactivity at an ATOMIC RESEARCH BASE! The substance turns out to be a foamy slime that is secreted by snails as a form of self-defense (Snails really got shafted when God handed out self-defenses. Porcupines, you get razor-sharp quills. Snails, you shoot foam out your ass).

Meanwhile, a young sailor and his girlfriend go swimming and are eventually eaten by the mysterious creature. The commander is led to the spot on the beach where the couple had been standing. The commander discovers slime covering the rocks along the shore (which is strange since the couple was killed out in the water).

So here's the situation so far: a monster is on the loose murdering civilians and military personnel on what claims to be a high security military base. You would think the navy might sound an alarm, send out squadrons of planes and patrols! Instead, the commander and three sailors go out in ANOTHER motor boat. The same kind that was nearly capsized by the monster (in reality it's probably the exact same boat). On the Salton Sea, two divers explore an underwater cave. They discover a foreign object at the bottom of the cavern believed to be an egg. They also find the shriveled remains of the sailor's girlfriend. In an effort to retrieve the girl's body, the monster grabs one of the divers and eats his head as a snack. It surfaces and attempts to capsize the small boat containing the commander but they drive it away by poking its eye.

Safely on shore, the team decides their next course of action. This is the first B movie I've seen where the order to destroy the rare creature and it's eggs is given by the scientist! Don't they usually want to capture the monster and become famous for it? The scientist announces to the team that what they're dealing with is a giant water mollusk. The scientist then treats us to a filmstrip featuring close ups scenes of a snail's slimy mouth sucking up worms. So far, these are the most frightening scenes of this movie.

He concludes that years of atomic testing must have mutated the underground snail eggs to mammoth proportions and the earthquake released them into the sea. Makes sense. When the grotesque filmstrip is over, the scientist reveals his greatest fear: There may be more of these giant snails and they may be traveling on land! Alright! Now we've got ourselves a movie! At least we did until the commander decides to take his new love interest, Gail, on a date. Here we learn important information such as the commander's childhood wish to be a fireman. C'mon! We could be watching a giant slug eating somebody!

While they make google eyes, dead people and dead cattle are popping up all over. Authorities conclude the snails have escaped into a pool of water through an underground river and are now laying eggs. Back at the lab, a little girl sneaks into the room where the slug egg is being kept immobile in cold water but unknowingly cranks up the heat on the water tank, thereby reviving the creature. I thought this thing was radioactive? What's it doing in an unlocked, unshielded room unattended?

At this very moment, a giant slug has just killed a gatekeeper at the canal. Fearing the creature will get into the canal and spawn into the gulf, they close the locks. Unfortunately, the lock closes on the giant snail, crushing it. Now they have to wait for another giant mollusk to follow, so they can find the location of the spawning pool which they find using a very old map. The slugs are eventually killed with depth charges.

Back at the lab, Gail is worried about the commander setting depth charges for the monsters but doesn't realize she's in greater danger. She's in the same building as the giant snail in the tank, and it's waking up! Soon the monster is loose and angry! It eats all of the research test rabbits (which is probably the best thing that could've happened to them considering they're atomic test subjects). The monster traps Gail and her daughter in a broom closet! The commander arrives in time and attacks the snail with a fire extinguisher. No good. If only there were some liquid nitrogen available! What luck! The commander, who has never been in the lab before, somehow recognizes a line containing liquid nitrogen. He breaks it loose from its connection and freezes the creature. Finally, the first soldiers seen in this movie who are actually armed, kill the giant snail with rifles. Situation remedied!

Comment on this movie or review

A silly monster? Maybe. But if it showed up in your house late at night, you'd have a coronary! A classic radiation-gone-mad b-movie! Four atomic blasts!

Secretary: "I was sorry to hear about the accident."
Commander: "Young lady, you're not to discuss this with anyone! Do you understand?"
Secretary: "No, of course not!"
("No" you don't understand?)

Gail: "I should be in there telling Connie how to get over the loss of a husband killed in action. Trouble is ... I can't get over it myself."
Commander: "Would you like a cigarette?