THE HIDEOUS
SUN DEMON

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Kelly Parks
The Hideous Sun Demon
SHOULD YOU?
TIP JAR
HIDEOUS SUN DEMON - 1958
USA Release: AUG! 29, 1958
Clarke-King Enterprises, Image Entertainment, Inc.
Rated: N/A

Word of advice to any future directors out there: never put a word like "hideous" in your title. It's just too tempting for movie reviewers to use it against you.

THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON was directed by Tom Boutross (THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK, THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN) and Robert Clarke, and was written by Mr. Clarke, Phil Hiner, Donald R. Hoag (THE TELL-TALE HEART) and E.S. Seely Jr. And let me just mention that a staff of writers like this usually does not bode well.

On the other hand the opening is fairly well done. We see an alarm going off at Atomic Research, Inc. and a man being carried by stretcher to an ambulance. The ambulance rushes him to a nearby hospital where we find he is research scientist Dr. Gilbert McKenna (played by writer/director Robert Clarke, wearing yet another hat). Gil has received a large dose of radiation and his condition is critical.

TRIVIA -
According to Gary Don Rhodes' book, HORROR AT THE DRIVE-IN, THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON premiered in Amarillo, Texas at the Tascalosa Drive-In.

As of 2015, the Tascalosa is still in business and still showing double features.

Or so it seems at first. But when Gil's colleagues, Ann Russell (Patricia Manning) and Dr. Frederick Buckell (Patrick Whyte: THE MOLE PEOPLE) arrive they're told by Dr. Stern (Robert Garry) that Gil seems fine. No radiation burns or other effects, in spite of receiving a large dose of a new "radiation from space" recently discovered by a satellite. Frederick volunteers a bit too much information and implies that the accident happened because Gil was hung over.

Gil is kept in the hospital for observation but he feels okay. A nurse brings him up on the hospital's sun deck to catch some rays and it doesn't take long for a transformation to occur. The sun turns Gil into a horrible ... reptilian-looking ... something or other. Gil manages to run back inside the hospital and even though he frightens a lot of people no one is hurt.

Cut to Dr. Stern providing a long exposition intermission as he explains to Ann and Frederick what has happened. He goes on at some length about how clearly Gil has "evolved" backwards into a lizard man. This radiation exposure has re-wound Gil's clock and as proof he mentions that a baby in the womb goes through all the stages of evolution, including a reptilian stage. Finally, the very thorough Dr. Stern puts on a short slide show meant to demonstrate similar radiation effects. He shows a slide of a spider and says, "This used to be a grasshopper. Well, you get the idea."

Yeah, doc. I get the idea. Time for a

!!!SCIENCE MOMENT!!!:
This movie was made in 1959, shortly after the launch of the first U.S. satellite (Explorer 1 on January 31st, 1958). This satellite discovered the Van Allen radiation belts, regions of trapped solar and cosmic particles in the Earth's magnetic field and this discovery may be what inspired the "new radiation from space" idea in this film, which is kind of cool.

Continued at SCIENCE MOMENT/HideousSunDemon

Once he's out of the sun Gil becomes human again. He goes home with strict orders to stay out of the sun (duh!) and proceeds to drink himself stupid (Imagine telling this story at the AA meeting!). Ann and Frederick try to comfort the distraught part-time lizard man but Gil still leaves the house and starts hanging out at a local dive bar where he has his eye on a well-endowed piano player named Trudy (Nan Peterson).

Trudy screams
Nan Peterson, just doing her job.

Will Gil's out of control drinking make him careless about the sun? Will he run afoul of Trudy's jealous boyfriend? Will you ever care enough to actually watch this movie? My guess is no, which is one of many reasons why I give it one negative shriek girl.


This review copyright 2004 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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