The Black Scorpion (1957)

Article #756 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-10-2003
Posting Date: 9-7-2003
Directed by Edward Ludwig
Featuring Richard Denning, Mara Corday, Carlos Rivas

Giant scorpions come out of a volcano in Mexico.

With Willis O’Brien helming the special effects, this should be a decent movie from that aspect, and for the most part it is; the scorpion attack footage is exciting, thrilling, and fun. Unfortunately, there are problems; for one, the special effects were never adaquately finished, so some scenes are hampered by having only a black outline of the scorpion rather than the scorpion itself. There are also certain sequences that are repeated; in particular, a scene where the scorpion takes down a helicopter is repeated only about a half minute after it is first used, and a sequence in which a line of scorpions emerge from a cave gets the repeat treatment. Also, the large model head used in some of the scenes is obviously not that of the scorpion in the animated sequences, and you really get tired of the repeated shots of this head drooling. The surrounding footage is variable, but it is helped by the eerie volcano locations used in the movie; in particular, a sequence involving a gas station in the opening scenes is very well done. Unfortunately, the script is somewhat unfocused, in that it never seems quite sure how to approach telling the story, and though Richard Denning and Mara Corday are charming enough as the romantic leads, the movie is singularly short of interesting characters; the only memorable one is one of those children who are supposed to be cute and winsome, but keep coming along when they’re not wanted and putting the adults in danger when they try to save them. The movie also makes the mistake of completely losing all sense of tension and suspense after the cave sequence, rather than trying to hold the audience’s interest from that point until the big finish. It’s not bad, overall, but it could have been one of the best of the big bug movies (I’m not sure if scorpions could be called bugs, but they’re close enough for me), but as it is, it falls a little short.


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