Monster on the Campus (1958)

Genres - Horror, Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Creature Film, Natural Horror  |   Release Date - Dec 17, 1958 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 76 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Any Jack Arnold movie from the 1950s is worth seeing, but Monster On The Campus is clearly in the bottom half of his output, despite some suspenseful scenes and clever moments. Arthur Franz brings a dour sincerity to his portrayal of Dr. Donald Blake, the researcher who falls victim to contamination from an ancient fossil that causes him (or any other living thing) that comes in contact with it to revert to a pre-historic state. The movie also provides a vehicle for established veteran players such as Helen Westcott and Alexander Lockwood, and newcomer Troy Donahue, which makes it a strange mix on that level; and the presence of ubiquitous horror/sci-fi player Whit Bissell gives the movie resonance with modern cultists (William Schallert must have been busy elsewhere during the three weeks this movie was in production . . .). But Monster On The Campus, just by virtue of its title, has a certain built-in campiness that expresses itself overtly in a few scenes that, undoubtedly, elicited howls, hoots, and mocking gasps from drive-in audiences at the time. In all, it's not as atmospheric -- except in a few stylistically claustrophobic scenes -- or persuasive as Arnold's best work, and even lacks the underlying sincerity that helped drive works such as The Space Children. It's a fun thrill ride within its modest budgetary and production dimensions, but not much more.