Giant scorpions demolish Mexico City. They have been released from underground caverns by a series of volcanic eruptions, and it's up to Hank, an American geologist to stop them.
Richard Denning ... Hank Scott
Mara Corday ... Teresa Alvarez
Carlos Rivas ... Artur Ramos
Mario Navarro ... Juanito
Carlos Múzquiz ... Dr. Velazco
Pascual García Peña ... José de la Cruz
Fanny Schiller ... Florentina
Pedro Galván ... Father Delgado
Arturo Martínez ... Major Cosio
Another stop motion classic from the atomic age. Giant scorpions awakened by volcanoes menace Mexico. You think a swarm of giant scorpions is bad, wait until you see the biggest and baddest of the bunch...The Black Scorpion!!
Willis O'Brien (the effects genius from King Kong) gets more than alittle help from Pete Peterson animating these arachnid monstrosities in all their stop-motion glory.
The effects were very well done, but unfortunately the transparent matte shots of the Black Scorpion entering Mexico City are terrible. Almost to the point where it ruins the movie. As is the constant (once or twice would be enough) close up of the scorpions face (which is a drooling animated prop). It would have been wonderful to see the Black Scorpion trashing buildings and attacking people in the city rather than a poor matte shot of the scorpion running through the streets.
Still overall a very enjoyable flick. The acting was actually pretty good compared to most of the genre films from the time.
The best scene from this film (hands down) was the descent into the underground lair of the scorpions, which also features not only a giant freaky worm, but a huge freaky looking trapdoor spider as well! The spider and worm prop were from the famous deleted "bottom of the ravine" scene from King Kong. So this is as close as you're going to get to reliving that infamous lost scene. Other great sequences include two scorpions battling the giant worm in a fight to the death, the scorpions swarming over and attacking a train at night, the Black Scorpion slaughtering the smaller scorpions, and the climatic fight between the Black Scorpion and the Mexican military in a soccer stadium.
One of the better Fifties science fiction entries is The Black Scorpion or scorpions to be precise. These creatures got released during a volcanic eruption and started wreaking havoc in the area around Mexico City.
Of all the monsters created by the special effects guys including the great Ray Harryhausen, the ugliest, meanest, nastiest creatures ever brought to the screen were these scorpions. They are ugly as sin, emit an obnoxious drool when on the prowl and make a noise guaranteed to scare any kid or kid at heart out of his comfortable movie seat. And they are one of the few creatures which are not either from outer space or caused by radioactivity.
When the scorpions start doing their thing, scientists Richard Denning and Carlos Rivas are in the area as is ranch owner Mara Corday. In between trying to figure out how to combat the scorpions, a little romance gets going between Denning and Corday. And there's a cute little kid around played by Mario Navarro who gets in all kinds of trouble tagging along with the scientists.
But you can mute the romance and get into the action. I guarantee you will like the scene inside the volcano where Denning, Rivas, and little Mario have to deal not only with the scorpions, but with giant earthworms and spiders. And the final battle in the Mexico City soccer stadium between the scorpion and the scientists and Mexican army is a tingler.
From out of the desert come giant scorpions, destroying houses, ravaging vehicles and slaughtering innocents! It's Them! all over again, but with better and more vicious monsters that, coincidentally, sound exactly like Them!'s giant ants.
The Black Scorpion is a typical 1950s giant monster movie, and you have to love the period and the genre to appreciate the film. I happen to love the period and the genre, and I also love stop-motion animation, so The Black Scorpion really presses my buttons.
The animation supervisor is Willis (King Kong) O'Brien, with the actual effects work done by Pete Peterson. You can see more of Peterson's work on the DVD. We not only get scorpions by the handful, we get other animated creepy-crawlies as well. Lots of effects work in this one!
The story is by-the-numbers but Richard Denning gives his usual stalwart performance. The DVD sports some nice Harryhausen extras, too. If you like this kind of thing, you'll LOVE The Black Scorpion.
* The producers ran out of money during production, so the special effect of the scorpion attacking Mexico City is actually an empty travelling matte.
* The sounds of the scorpions are the same sounds as the ant chirps in Them! (1954).
* The trapdoor spider that attacks Juanito in the scorpions' underground home is one of the original models left over from the famous deleted spider sequence in King Kong (1933)
* Many of the screams heard are stock sound effects that can also be heard in many Republic movie serials.
* That giant worm with the "octopus-like arms" seen in this film is a prop from the unused spider pit sequence from the original King Kong (1933).
* Most likely due to budgetary issues, the same person's voice is used for the open credits, the police dispatcher coming from the wrecked police car's radio and the public address announcer in the Mexico City sequences.
* The volcano shown at the beginning was Paricutin which erupted in 1943 and was active for about a decade.