The Hideous Sun Demon (1959)

Talk about a family project! In addition to writing, directing, editing and starring in this film Robert Clarke got his own family, his in-laws and even close family friends involved! It just goes to show what a family can accomplish if they stick together.

Many people include this movie when talking about Bad “B” Films. Well it isn’t so bad, in fact it is quite imaginative and has one of the better monster costumes. Okay so the dialog could have used a re-write but some of the lines are instantly classic. What lines? How about: “I’ve told him before that bourbon and water go together, not bourbon and radiation!”.

The plot? Clarke is a scientist who cannot stay off the booze and as a result gets a mega-dose of radiation. Quicker than you can say “Oh and now I suppose he’s going to mutate.” he sure does. Sunlight causes him to evolve backwards and change into a scaly lizard like monster. This is because, as a doctor explains, we pass through many stages of evolution while we are in the embryonic stage. At one time we even resemble lizards. Gosh I never knew that; who says movies aren’t educational?

The movie does have a few legitimate scary moments. Take that scene where Ann Russell goes to the door expecting to see Clarke but instead the Sun Demon rushes right into the camera! That scene scared the heck out of me when I was a kid. Our first look at the Sun Demon is well staged too. We only get a 1 second glimpse but we know something terrible has happened. Okay so Clarke goes a little overboard acting-wise sometimes but remember that a lot of us might react in the same way of we found ourselves in that position. (Then again a lot of us would probably run to the nearest hospital after the first transformation too but just keep repeating “It’s only a movie . . .”)

DVD prints have restored the infamous “rat scene” which was clipped for TV. The Sun Demon picks up a rat in one scene and crushes it in his hand. In reality the rat was not harmed, Clarke took a real rat and just covered it with ketchup and that is what’s dripping between his fingers.

Did you know that when this film was brand new it played on a double bill with PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE? I’m sorry I was not around then, I certainly would have paid 25 cents to see that combo! Oh one other thing, listen carefully to the music. Some of it turned up a few years later in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.