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Nose Norton

Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,626
Subj: Creature Feature 130: Beginning Of The End(1957)
Posted: Wed May 02, 2018 at 02:10:19 pm CDT (Viewed 437 times)

Beginning Of The End is Bert I. Gordon's first big bug movie, released in 1957. Gordon produced and directed the film for Republic Pictures, which was known for its western movies and the Adventures Of Captain Marvel serial(1941). The film starred Peter Graves and Peggie Castle and featured giant grasshoppers.

When the town of Ludlow, Illinois, is mysteriously destroyed, photojournalist Audrey Aimes(Castle) gets curious and meets scientist Ed Wainwright(Graves). She learns that experiments with radiation on agriculture may have lead to the humongous growth of grasshoppers which are now causing massive destruction. The pair tries to convince the military of the danger but they don't believe them until the locusts attack Chicago. Wainwright is able to create a mating call which draws the giant bugs into Lake Michigan where the cold water causes them to drown.

Beginning Of The End has a pretty bad reputation, and I remember being disappointed by it in the past, but I have to admit that, with this watching, it was not as bad as its reputation. Sure, there are bad scenes of grasshoppers moving along a picture of a building and the matte is occasionally very bad, but there are other scenes that are pretty effective. The quick motion of the grasshoppers adds to the threat of these giant creatures which are known for stripping land of all of its vegetation. Graves and Castle are a bit stoic but I think that fits with their characters of scientist and seasoned photographer. The military downplaying the threat of bus-sized bugs is a bit ridiculous, but, in the end, they see their folly. The machine gun fire is menacing to these bugs, which makes the scenes of military vs monster more believable and the idea that there are thousands of grasshoppers is quite different from the usual singular monster. The movie doesn't play up these concepts as well as it could but it still presents a nice monster movie with plenty of 50's scares, which is just what it set out to do. It's a good giant bug movie.

Memorable Moments:

The movie opens with a couple necking in a car to Big Lou Bartel's Natural, Natural Baby. The monster’s attack isn’t shown but the 50's science fiction movie set-up is perfect.

Peggie Castle as Audrie Aimes. She's a pretty low key reporter but that works in her favor, regardless of her bombshell looks. You know that she’s crafty and capable. The military treats her with the respect she deserves, which is a bit surprising for a 50's movie.

The first locust attack. It's not great, but the idea of giant locust attacking is scary. Graves' description of the giant locusts and their nature is scarier than the actual scene. The sound the bugs make is familiar to anyone who lives near trees.

The bugs attacking Chicago. By this time, it seems like the filmmakers have run low on insects as only a few are still attacking. The scenes of the grasshoppers climbing Chicago skyscrapers aren't terrible but they aren't great, either. I'd guess moviegoers of the 50's would've loved the special effects, though. I know my dad, a 50's sci-fi lover, was a fan of this movie.

Beginning Of The End trailer

Wikipedia presents a pretty thorough contemporary review of the film. Reading this makes me think that the movie suffered from criticism for not being the first of its type. I do enjoy reading reviews from the time but can't help but feel that the movie gets unfairly derided for not being the first of its genre.

Peter Graves would gain fame for his role in Mission: Impossible. He also is well known for his appearances in Airplane and Airplane II: The Sequel.

The plot of Beginning Of The End is similar to H.G. Wells' 1904 novel The Food Of The Gods And How It Came To Earth, which Bert I. Gordon also adapted to film as Village Of The Giants and The Food Of The Gods.

The movie was skewered in the fifth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

You can watch Beginning Of The End here:

Beginning Of The End

Next time: The Monolith Monsters

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