Devil Monster (1946)
Article 5471 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by S. Edwin Graham
Featuring Barry Norton, Blanche Mehaffey, Jack Barty
What it is: A good reason to stay on a tropical island without movie theaters
A man embarks on a trip to the South Seas to learn the fate of a sailor whose schooner disappeared without a trace. Will he find the sailor, and will the sailor wish to return? And what about the devil fish that destroyed the schooner?
This was edited down from a 1936 film called THE SEA FIEND, which is now considered lost. I don’t know how much of the copious stock footage was from this original film or whether it was added for this edit, but it’s quite possible that greater than half the film consists of stock footage, either of undersea life, sea lions, South Seas natives (with topless nudity – this movie obviously was shown on the road show circuits) or tuna fishing. Much of the stock footage is from the silent era as well. The title monster is a manta ray, and I think it’s supposed to be huge, but since you never really get a good look at it or a comparison with it against any humans, it’s hard to say. The special effects are incompetent and unconvincing. It has its uses as a bad movie curiosity piece, but its entertainment value is negligible.
However, I do have an amusing story to tell about this one. I chose this as a selection to run for my bad movie group, and my wife (who had never seen the movie) chose an accompanying short called FISH FROM HELL (which I had never seen). One thing became very clear when the short and the movie were shown; they both used identical stock footage in their respective scenes. I still think everyone believes it was a joke on our part rather than coincidence.