When a kipper-loving Nessie-type monster hatches from an egg brought back from Malaya by his Uncle Dick (Ronald Howard), a boy called David (Michael Wade) tries to keep the creature secret with the help of his sister Sophie (Rachel Clay) and his friend Chris (Terry Raven).
This B&W British production is low budget and quite sweet, featuring polite children who speak awfully properly and some comical circus villains, who want to capture the monster so that they can use it as a sideshow attraction. This results in a chase along London streets and then Regent’s Canal.
The creature itself is initially a stop-motion puppet when it first hatches (the animation is basic but charming), though in some scenes it is just a static model that the children carry about.
When the reptilian critter, which the children name ‘Beauty’, grows larger, the friendly beast is brought to life as a man in a suit. There are also a couple of brief close-up stop-motion shots of its face later in the story.
Directed by Alberto (DEAD OF NIGHT) Cavalcanti, the screenplay was written by Mary Cathcart Borer, who wrote a lot of now-forgotten kids films and TV series, including THE DRAGON OF PENDRAGON CASTLE (1953) and MASTERS OF VENUS (1962).
The original story was dreamt up by Joy Batchelor, who founded the British animation company Halas and Batchelor with her husband John Halas. They were behind such productions as the animated feature film ANIMAL FARM (1954) and the Oscar-nominated short AUTOMANIA 2000 (1963).
THE MONSTER OF HIGHGATE PONDS, a Halas and Batchelor production made for the Children’s Film Foundation, is rather quaint and very much of its time.