Movie Name: The Killer Shrews
Studio: McLendon-Radio Pictures Distributing Company
Release Date(s): June 25, 1959
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Captain Thorne Sherman (James Best) has been recruited to make a delivery to a remote island where a scientist named Marlowe Cragis (Baruch Lumet) and his daughter Ann (Ingrid Goude) work with their crew. Trapped by a hurricane, Sherman founds that Marlowe has unleashed a horror on the island. Giant shrews that eat everything in their path have gotten loose and are now turning on humans due to the lack of a food supply. Sherman finds himself competing with Jerry Farrell (Ken Curtis) for the heart of Ann, but escaping the island could be the biggest challenge the group faces.
Directed by Ray Kellogg, The Killer Shrews is a B-Movie horror film. The movie is in public domain and readily available. It was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in its fourth season (MST3K 4-7).
The Killer Shrews is one of those definitive B-Movies. The movie has bad sets, poor acting, cheesy monsters, and stock footage galore. Despite this, it is one of the better bad B-Movies in my opinion due to some clever plotting.
The set-up for the movie is pretty good. The characters are trapped on the island, the shrews have become cannibalistic due to food shortage, and simply being bitten or scratched can kill a person due to genetic modification. The movie unfolds rather typically with characters arguing over romance while they fight for their lives, but I do like the escape at the end with the barrels.
The movie has James Best as the romantic lead. Best is best known as Rosco P. Coltrane from The Dukes of Hazzard so it is odd to see him leading the way here (but he was often cast in this role at the time…even in The Andy Griffith Show). Ingrid Goude is the typical horror pretty face and Ken Curtis found fame on Gunsmoke. I did feel sorry for Best’s poor first mate Rook Griswald played by “Judge” Henry Dupree who was pretty much a sacrificial lamb for the shrews.
The shrews are the best and worst part of the movie. The makers simply put dogs into shrew costumes and had them run around. This is combined with puppets and close-ups…and they don’t look any better than the dog shots.
The Killer Shrews is a fun bad movie. It is short and to the point so it doesn’t take long to watch (which is a blessing). The movie actually had a made-for-TV sequel in 2012 called Return of the Killer Shrews. It featured Best returning to his role, but also a mini-Dukes of Hazzard reunion with John Schneider and Rick Hurst.
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