“Yeah I know the type, frustrated, angular spinster, very dedicated to her calling, without a sense of humor, bossy and infuriatingly right every time.”
Physicist Dr. Laird (Alec Mango) and his assistant American scientist Gilbert Graham (Forrest Tucker) are performing a series of advanced and dangerous experiments with magnetic fields. The equipment they are using was not designed to carry that much of a load. An accident occurs and Laird’s other assistant is injured. The Ministry of Defense sends Brigadier Cartwright (Windham Goldie) to investigate. With him is the new assistant, computer expert Michele Dupont (Gaby Andre) and Oh My God she’s a woman! Despite it being preposterous because it is a highly skilled job, Michele manages to solve the power problem the men are having with their, shall we say, equipment. Laird is now of the opinion Michele is brilliant and not at all bossy. However, the risks involved with Laird’s experiments are still a problem.
The latest experiment with the updated system is interrupted. The experiment transforms some metal alloy that is not part of the test to change into a crumbling powder. Deputy Defense Minister Gerald Wilson (Geoffrey Charter) makes Laird’s project a top priority. A security team is sent to secure the project against espionage. The leader of the team is Jimmy Murray (Hugh Latimer).
Soon it’s discovered that the hyper-magnetic field the experiment generated has interrupted the Earth’s magnetic field. The result is strange weather patterns and the infiltration of cosmic rays to the planet. Sudden bursts of cosmic radiation causes strange affects to some people and to the insect life.
Then Mr. Smith (Martin Benson) comes to town. He approaches Graham and Dupont about the hazards Dr. Laird’s machine is creating. He warns them about the effects the cosmic radiation will have on life forms that have a quicker gestation period. Specifically the insects and what kinds of mutations could occur. It’s not long before the area is swarming with giant insects. Graham and Dupont figure out that Mr. Smith is an emissary from another world and Dr. Laird is mad and determined to continue with his experiments. Mr. Smith warns that if Laird continues, the Earth’s orbit will destabilize resulting in the Earth’s destruction.
“The Cosmic Monster” AKA “The Strange World of Planet X” was released in 1958 and was directed by Gilbert Gunn. It is a British independent film. The movie is actually part big bug movie. What a surprise. I expected a mad scientist and an alien from outer space. I also expected some insects but I did not realize the variety. Worms, centipedes, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, even a salamander. The film combines just about every science fiction sub-genre. There’s even a little Theremin tossed in.
As a big bug movie fan I watch them all the time. Somehow I missed this one along the way. Yes, it’s a low budget affair but most of the big bug movies were. Some critics panned it, but big bug fans drooled. The bugs are real, but of course they are forced perspective. I don’t care. Many of my favorite big bug movies are forced perspective.
Originally a British TV mini series it was then done as a film. The movie is often compared to the “Quatermass” films which also had similar beginnings. The problem with the comparison is that “Quatermass” had a much bigger budget. Therefore, I find the comparison unfair. My only complaint was that the movie was a little dark, especially when all the bug action was going on. I attribute that to the fact that the movie didn’t get the TLC it needed to keep it in better shape. And yes, it took awhile to get to the bugs but all was forgiven when they finally made their appearance.
I love this movie. To me it is truly a lost gem.