The Beast of Yucca Flats

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

Director: Coleman Francis
Writer: Coleman Francis

  • Tor Johnson — Joseph Javorsky; the Beast
  • Coleman Francis — narrator
  • (better left unnamed) — others


black & white; 54 minutes October 2011


I had mild hopes that The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961) would be at best a science-fictional period piece, interesting for its perspective from the relatively early Atomic Age; or at least, one of those unfortunate but endearing "it's so bad, it's good" films that make us smile while shaking our heads. It doesn't reach even the lesser standard. It's not awful in the sense of "nastiest", because there are all too many of those; but for "worst-made", it's hard to beat The Beast of Yucca Flats.

There is a brief setup introducing Tor Johnson as defecting Soviet Bloc scientist Joseph Javorsky, heading into the Nevada Proving Grounds. This is followed by some car-chase and gunplay (your cat could shoot better, and drive better, too) in the Nevada desert. Soon a test atomic explosion kills everyone but Javorsky, who is transformed on the spot into the Beast — sort of an irradiated zombie. The Beast staggers off on a mindless killing rampage in the near-empty desert, until counter-attacked by almost equally incompetent lawmen.

A quick summary of The Beast of Yucca Flats:

  • Concept: what?
  • Science: no.
  • Writing: very bad.
  • Direction: erratic.
  • Plot: an ignorant assortment of fools and incompetents collide randomly.
  • Acting: nondescript, down to embarrassing.
  • Narration: making badness explicit.
  • Cinematography: your cat could do as well with a cell phone, on the first try.

There really is nothing here.


© 2011 Robert Wilfred Franson

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