Monster from Green Hell, made by Gross-Krasne Productions in 1957, was one of the many giant bug movies of the 1950s, and it’s possibly the worst of them all. In fact I’ll go further and state categorically that it’s the worst such movie I’ve ever seen (and normally I'm quite fond of the giant bug sub-genre).
Rocket scientists Dr Quent Brady (Jim Davis) and Dan Morgan (Robert Griffin) are investigating the effects that space flight will have on animals, and ultimately on people. They are concerned that cosmic radiation may cause mutations.
They are conducting brief 40-second sub-orbital flights with various animal subjects but something goes wrong with one of the missions and the rocket remains in space for 40 hours. This naturally causes mutations, and as everyone knows mutations always cause things to grow to enormous size.
In this case the creatures aboard the rocket were wasps. The rocket came down in West Africa, and now the entire continent is threatened by being overrun by gigantic wasps the size of a house. The rocket scientists feel kind of bad about this so they fly to West Africa and set off on safari to a patch of jungle known to the natives as Green Hell.
A missionary doctor has already set out to investigate strange stories of giant monsters, with fatal results for the doctor. Undeterred, the rocket scientists start tramping through the jungle.
And they continue tramping through the jungle. They run short of water but a rainstorm saves them, and they continue tramping through the jungle. They find a poisoned waterhole, after which comes more tramping through the jungle. Their porters desert them, after which there is more tramping through the jungle. They find the mission station, and recruit new porters. This is good news because it means they can resume tramping through the jungle. Finally, when all this tramping has padded the movie out to a barely respectable 71-minute running time, they find their giant wasps.
They are well equipped to deal with overgrown insects, being armed with a large supply of hand grenades. Unfortunately, after all that tramping through the jungle, they find that grenades have no effect on gigantic wasps.
Will they find some other way of dealing with these huge insect pests? And will they be able to destroy the queen wasp? By this stage you probably won’t care, you will just be praying that the solution does not involve further tramping through the jungle.
The acting is what you expect from a low-budget 1950s science fiction film. It’s barely adequate. There’s lots of stock footage of stampeding jungle animals. Sadly there’s precious little dramatic tension. Kenneth G. Crane’s directing career was mercifully brief, this being one of only four movies that he helmed. This was his first movie as director. Perhaps he improved. After this movie he could hardly do worse.
The special effects of huge buzzing insects that apparently can’t fly (not surprising since they’re the size of barn) at least provide some amusement.
The Region 4 DVD is fairly poor but is watchable. There are no extras.
Monster from Green Hell might have been moderately amusing but the pacing is just so painfully slow that any entertainment value is nullified. Not recommended unless you’re an ardent giant bug movie completist.