Tag Archives: beast of yucca flats

Bargain Bin(ge) Las Vegas: Zia Record Exchange – Eastern

Welcome to the newest installment of the Bargain Bin(ge), where I cover used DVD stores from around the country and the various movies I have plundered from them.

Earlier this week, work took me out to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. With the limited free time I had, I decided to check out some used media stores in search of DVDs.

lasvegasI wound up visiting two locations of Zia Record Exchange, a chain of used media stores in the Southwestern states of Arizona and Nevada. This particular segment covers the Eastern Avenue location in Las Vegas, a little ways off the beaten path.

ziaeastern8 ziaeastern9As with the Sahara Ave. location, the Zia on Eastern is very much defined by its ambiance. I will say that it isn’t quite as distinctive as the Sahara location, and that it is a little better spaced out (I think the floorplan may be a bit bigger). This location proved to have an equally impressive movie selection, and plenty of good deals to go around.

ziaeastern1ziaeastern2ziaeastern3ziaeastern4ziaeastern5ziaeastern6ziaeastern7As you might expect, I came away with a pretty good haul after spending some time scouring through the bargain bins and shelves. Here’s are the flicks I came home with:

Destroy All Planets / Attack of The Monsters

14I am a total sucker for old kaiju movies, and these are two of the most ridiculous entries into the infamous “Gamera” franchise. I marathoned all of the classic ones a while back, and I thoroughly recommend checking out the MST3k treatment for “Attack of the Monsters” (“Gamera vs Guiron”).

The Beast of Yucca Flats

15Here’s a flick I covered as part of the IMDb Bottom 100: “The Beast of Yucca Flats.” It is usually in high consideration for being one of the worst films ever made, and the director, Coleman Francis, is easily one of the most notoriously awful filmmakers in history. Tor Johnson of “Plan 9 From Outer Space” stars in it, making it a sort of perfect storm of awfulness. I recommend checking out the MST3k treatment if you want to watch it, or else it is not a pleasant experience.

Gamera: Return of the Giant Monsters / The Magic Serpent

16“Gamera: Return of the Giant Monsters” is better known as “Gamera vs Gyaos,” and is one of the classics in the “Gamera” franchise. “The Magic Serpent,” on the other hand, seems to be a more obscure kaiju creature feature that leans more towards being a fantasy ninja epic. I’m curious to see how it is, because the few reviews out there about it seem positive.

It’s Alive

17“It’s Alive” is a cult classic from Larry Cohen, and a movie that I have had a lot of trouble finding on DVD. I’m a pretty big fan of the Cohen stuff I have seen, so this one has been on the top of my “to watch” list for a while now. Also, it is about a ridiculous killer baby. I am totally down with that. It got a remake a few years ago that I have also been meaning to check out. Keep your eyes peeled, because this one is for sure going to be popping up on the blog soon.

Active Stealth

18“Active Stealth” is a movie that stars Daniel Baldwin of “Car 54, Where Are You?,” “King of the Ants,” and “Vampires.” I think of him as a modern version of Joe Estevez, in that he is related to a famous person that he kind of looks like, and uses the similarities to rack up endless b-movie acting gigs. As for “Active Stealth,” director Fred Olen Ray has over 130 directing credits on b-movies like “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers” and “Super Ninja Bikini Babes,” so I have to assume that this is a quality action flick.

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IMDb Bottom 100: The Beast of Yucca Flats

The Beast of Yucca Flats

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What happens when you put “Red Zone Cuba” and “Plan 9 From Outer Space” into the blast zone of an atomic bomb? Ideally, both movies would be destroyed. Alternatively, they could synthesize into a mindless creature of a movie called “The Beast of Yucca Flats”.

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Starring the hulking Tor Johnson of “Plan 9 From Outer Space” infamy, and directed/written by “Red Zone Cuba” visionary Coleman Francis, “The Beast of Yucca Flats” is exactly the quality of movie you should expect: it is absolute garbage. The only saving grace of “Yucca Flats” is the curious charm that is occasionally the side effect of absolute incompetence.

Pictured: charm
Pictured: charm

First off, eponymous “Beast” (Tor Johnson) cannot act. He spent most of his career in the background of movies as a muscle-man, but he never really had the chops for acting. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it) for him, in “The Beast of Yucca Flats”, he doesn’t really have to act. Due to some of the most baffling sound work in cinema history, all of the dialogue in the film is spoken from off-screen. This means that Tor’s lead role is more or less relegated to a silent beast (I don’t recall if he even got a line before his transformation). This mechanical issue also leads to some awkward off-screen conversations set against still images, and numerous disembodied voices with unclear sources moving the plot along. Clearly in an attempt to cover this horrific sound work, the movie also has narration throughout. Unfortunately, the narrator rarely speaks in complete sentences, and never quite makes any sense. Ultimately, all of the film’s problems mentioned here (and many more) boil down to the same fellow at the rotten core of this attempted film: Coleman Francis.

Coleman Francis is the writer who cooked up all of the horrendously stilted dialogue. Coleman Francis is the narrator who rambles incoherently throughout the movie. Coleman Francis is the director who allowed the astoundingly horrible sound and cinematography decisions to made. “The Beast of Yucca Flats” is entirely and unequivocally the fault of Coleman Francis.  Even the perplexing opening scene that has no connection to the rest of the film was reportedly inserted after-the-fact because Francis “liked nude scenes”.

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The kind-of touching final shot had nothing to do with Francis. The rabbit just showed up.

Yet, despite the countless issues with the film (or maybe because of them), “The Beast of Yucca Flats” is almost certainly the most entertaining and best remembered of the Coleman Francis movies. As mentioned before, there is a certain intangible charm that certain movies have that can only come from the honest incompetence of the filmmaker, and “The Beast of Yucca Flats” has it. The movie is rightfully considered to be one of the classic considerations for “worst film of all time”, right alongside “Manos: The Hands of Fate” and “Plan 9 From Outer Space”. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode on the movie is also considered to be one of their finest:

It is mind-boggling to compare “Beast of Yucca Flats” to Coleman Francis’s other IMDb Bottom 100 movie, “Red Zone Cuba”. Both movies are arguably of equal incompetence, but “Yucca Flats” is far and away more entertaining to watch. Watching them back-to-back illustrates the hazy boundary between an entertaining bad movie and an unwatchably bad movie, at least in my opinion. In any case, I can recommend checking out the MST3K of “The Beast of Yucca Flats”. but I certainly wouldn’t say the same about “Red Zone Cuba”.

However, “Yucca Flats” doesn’t have nearly as catchy of a theme song:

“The Beast of Yucca Flats” isn’t going to be as much fun for a casual group today as “The Room” or “Birdemic”, but it rightfully has a place among the classic bad movies of yesteryear. If you can enjoy “Plan 9”, “Manos”, and other bad flicks from back in the day, then you don’t want to overlook “Yucca Flats”.