Beast From Haunted Cave (1959)

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Yikes!

Tough criminal boss Alexander Ward (Frank Wolff) oversees a small heist team intent on stealing gold bars from a bank vault in snowy South Dakota. The plan involves one of the criminals, Marty Jones (Richard Sinatra – cousin of Frank Sinatra), setting off an explosion in a nearby gold mine to act as a diversion as the bank is robbed. The mine is the home of a spider-like monster, however, which pursues Ward’s crew as they head for a remote cabin, led by local guide Gil Jackson (Michael Forest), who is, at first, unaware that he’s helping criminals fleeing the scene of their crime. Gil finds himself falling for Ward’s lover Gypsy (Sheila Noonan), who tells him that the gang intends to kill him…

Ward and Gypsy before the heist
Ward and Gypsy before the heist

BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE was the directorial debut of Monte (TWO-LANE BLACKTOP) Hellman and is an interesting hybrid of heist flick and monster movie. With tough dialogue and heist plot setup, this low budget film is initially like something you’d read in a pulpy crime paperback, but a cobwebby creature is added to the mix, making this a novel Corman-produced curio.

The film was originally released with THE WASP WOMAN
The film was originally released with THE WASP WOMAN

The lack of budget is obvious when it comes to the creature, which is mainly represented as a long prop arm poked on-screen and a couple of quick shots where it is inserted into location scenes via double exposure (which makes you think it might be a spirit of some kind because it is see-through). The monster is definitely meant to be a physical creature, though, and there’s a decent finale where the various characters encounter the beast in a remote cave.

Hairy-faced beast!
Hairy-faced beast!

The creature keeps its victims webbed-up and alive, so that it can take its time feeding on them, which I think is quite a creepy concept for a 50s B-movie. In one effective moment we see the creature’s first victim covered in a cocoon of web, stuck between two trees, and we realise that the monster has pursued the group into the mountains and has brought the initial victim along with it (as an on-the-go snack!)

Cocooned amongst the trees...
Cocooned amongst the trees…
Characters are webbed-up
Characters are webbed-up

Though the funky-looking, furry-faced, long-armed critter is very lo-fi, I still rather like this cheaply-made creature feature.

The beast feeds on a victim
The beast feeds on a victim
Beast From Haunted Cave gif

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