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 worst, 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 approach even the lesser standard.

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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  Nevada Proving Grounds;
  Nevada Test Site

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