Summer at the Drive-In Extra – The Black Scorpion (1957)

The Black Scorpion (October 11, 1957)
Cast:        Richard Denning as Hank Scott
                Mara Corday as Teresa Alvarez
                Carlos Rivas as Artur Ramos
                Mario Navarro as Juanito

Story by Paul Yawitz
Screenplay by David Duncan & Robert Blees
Directed by Edward Ludwig

Plot: After a volcano erupts in Mexico, giant scorpions are freed from underground caverns plague the poor villagers.

Richard’s Review: There are elements of The Black Scorpion that I really love. The giant scorpions are amazing and I love the setting around the volcanos and earthquakes. However, the plot meanders way too much and character development seems to be all over the place. The character of Juanito was way too annoying at times. While I was glad to see him disappear, it’s almost as if the writers forgot about him in the final act, especially considering how important he seemed to be earlier in the film. Overall, it’s a fun film that’s saved by the scorpions but could have been better with a shorter running time and a better script.  

Karla’s Thoughts: While I enjoyed The Black Scorpion, it really was too long and spent too much time setting up the story. Many of the early characters and plot points, like the priest and the found baby, just disappear without much explanation. Whatever happened to Juanito? He’s totally forgotten once they get to Mexico City. Other characters were involved but their roles were never fleshed out. I loved the giant scorpions but the story was disappointing.   

Trivia:

  • The legendary Willis O’Brien of King Kong (1933) fame worked on the amazing special effects. The giant worm with the octopus-like arms was actually a prop from the infamous spider pit sequence in King Kong. O’Brien also worked on The Lost World (1925), Mighty Joe Young (1949) and The Giant Behemoth (1959). He was worked on the effects and directed The Ghost of Slumber Mountain (1918).    
  • Richard Denning is best remembered for his role of Mark Williams in Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). He also starred in several television series, such as Mr. and Mrs. North, The Flying Doctor and Michael Shayne. He also appeared in genre films Target Earth (1954), Creature with the Atom Brain (1955) and Twice-Told Tales (1963).
  • Mara Corday also starred in Tarantula (1955) and The Giant Claw (1957). After leaving acting in the early 60s, she returned to appear in four Clint Eastwood films, The Gauntlet (1977), Sudden Impact (1983), Pink Cadillac (1989) and The Rookie (1990).
  • Carolos Rivas starred in such classic films as The King and I (1956) and True Grit (1969). However, genre fans will recognize him from The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956) and The Madman of Mandoras (1963) aka They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1968). He also starred in Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966) and two episodes of the Tarzan television series.
  • Young Mario Navarro only has 12 acting credits to his name, the most memorable being this film and The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956). He did have a small role in The Magnificent Seven (1960) before eventually leaving acting in 1965 when he turned 16.
  • If the narrator’s voice at the beginning of the film sounds familiar, it’s because it belonged to Bob Johnson. He provided the narration from all of the Quinn Martin television productions in the 60s and 70s.
  • Director Edward Ludwig had a prolific career in the silent era under the name Ed I. Luddy before switching to Ludwig. The Black Scorpion was his only genre film.
  • This was the only genre film for writer Paul Yawitz and his last film credit.
  • David Duncan also wrote the English version of Rodan (1957), as well as The Monster That Challenged the World (1957) and adaptations of The Time Machine (1960) and Fantastic Voyage (1966).
  • Robert Blees also wrote From the Earth to the Moon (1958), Frogs (1972) and Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972).  

Availability: The Black Scorpion is available on Blu-ray as part of the Warner Archive Collection.

2 thoughts on “Summer at the Drive-In Extra – The Black Scorpion (1957)

  1. I love The Black Scorpion and like most Silver Age horror films, it does meander slowly through the middle of the film. For some reason they always added this annoying science explanation to the films. When I was young, I found it annoying and boring. But today I find it hilarious and entertaining due to it’s niche for the time.

    • It’s true, those scientific explanations can be quite entertaining by today’s standards. The Black Scorpion is still a fun flick despite it’s flaws, just not as good as it could have been. Thanks for your comment!

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