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The Beast of Yucca Flats

A promotional film poster for The Beast of Yucca Flats
Directed by Coleman Francis
Produced by Anthony Cardoza
Coleman Francis
Roland Morin
Jim Oliphant
Larry Aten
Bing Stafford
Written by Coleman Francis
Starring Tor Johnson
Douglas Mellor
Barbara Francis
Bing Stafford
Conrad Brooks
Music by Gene Kauer
Irwin Nafshun
Al Remington
Cinematography John Cagle
Lee Strosnider
Editing by Coleman Francis
Austin McKinney
Lee Strosnider
Anthony Cardoza
Distributed by Crown International Pictures
Release date(s) 2 May 1961
Running time 54 mins.
Country  United States
Language English
Budget $34,000 (est.)[1]

The Beast of Yucca Flats is a B horror film released in 1961. The film starred Swedish former wrestler Tor Johnson and was both written and directed by Coleman Francis. This film was featured on the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000. Some critics have characterized this film as one of the worst sci-fi films of all time, even suggesting that it may be more poorly conceived and executed than Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space.[2]



The film opens with an unnamed woman being strangled after finishing a shower. The purpose of the scene is unclear, although the actor portraying the murderer was doubling for Johnson's character.[3] This scene is followed by Joseph Javorsky (Tor Johnson), a noted Soviet scientist, arriving in Yucca Flat in the United States after defecting. Javorsky is carrying a briefcase with various military secrets; the film's narrator (Coleman Francis) alludes to information about a Soviet moon landing specifically.

Tor Johnson as the "Beast"

As Javorsky disembarks from his plane, he and his American contacts are attacked by a pair of KGB assassins (Anthony Cardoza and John Morrison). While the Americans stay to fight off the KGB agents, Javorsky flees into the desert, walking for (presumably) a great distance, and removing much of his clothing. Too late, it is revealed that he has wandered in range of an American nuclear test. The radiation transforms Javorsky into a mindless beast (the Beast). He proceeds to kill a couple in their car on a nearby road, prompting pursuit from two police officers named Jim Archer (Bing Stafford) and Joe Dobson (Larry Aten).

Meanwhile, a vacationing family ventures along the same road. After stopping at a service station to feed soda to pigs in a pen, the family's two young sons (Ronald and Alan Francis) wander off into the wastelands where they eventually encounter and escape from the Beast. Their father (Douglas Mellor) searches for them, but is mistaken for the killer by one of the police officers, searching for the murderer from the air in a small plane. The officer opens fire on the innocent man, who escapes after nearly being shot several times.

Eventually the family is reunited and the police shoot and kill the Beast. A wild rabbit appears and nuzzles the Beast's lifeless body.

Production notes

  • The movie was filmed entirely silent. Narration, voiceovers, and some sound effects were added in post production. To avoid having to synchronize the audio to the picture, characters only speak when their faces are either off-screen or not clearly visible due to darkness or distance. Likewise, during scenes in which firearms are used, the muzzles of the guns are usually out-of-shot when the weapons are fired, presumably for similar sound-syncing reasons. The film includes extensive narration to minimise the necessity of plot points being conveyed through dialogue.[4]
  • The film opens with the strangling murder of a woman who has just stepped out of the shower and is thus topless - it is implied that the killer sexually abuses her corpse. The identity of the murderer is never revealed and the murder is never discussed after that scene. The murderer is dressed like Javorsky after the blast, but this murder is never mentioned during the actual film, nor is there any apparent place in the narrative where it could be said to occur. According to an interview with Anthony Cardoza, the scene was added after the film was complete because Coleman Francis liked nude scenes.
  • During scenes of gunplay, many characters appear at first to have suffered life-threatening bullet wounds, then appear to have inexplicably recovered and show no visible signs of having been wounded.

See also


External links

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