The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

beast of yucca flats poster 1961 movie tor johnson
1 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 1/10
Visuals: 1/10

So bad it is good quality

Everything you could do to make a monster movie bad is done

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Beast of Yucca Flats

Studio:  Cinema Associates

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  May 2, 1961

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

beast of yucca flats tor johnson desert high quality

Get ready for an intense slow speed chase in the desert!!!

Russian scientist Joseph Javorsky (Tor Johnson) is targeted by assassins as he defects to the United States with military secrets, but when Joseph is caught in a nuclear test while fleeing KGB agents.  With his mind shattered, Joseph finds himself wandering the desert and attacking those he encounters.  Hank Radcliffe (Douglas Mellor) and his wife Lois (Barbara Francis) breakdown in the desert and when their children Randy and Art (Ronald Francis and Alan Francis) become lost, a race against time to locate them before the “Beast” is on.

Written and directed by Coleman Francis, The Beast of Yucca Flats is a low-budget horror movie.  The film was released to negative reviews and is in the public domain.  The film is often listed as one of the worst films of all time and was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K #7.21).

beast of yucca flats tor johnson boulder

Tor is just trying to kill a spider

I think I first encountered The Beast of Yucca Flats on MST3K.  It was as bad as you’d expect but at least the ’bots kept it humorous.  Watching The Beast of Yucca Flats without the built in “irony” of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a bit of a challenge…but fortunately the movie is short.

The movie’s story is nonsense.  There is an unrelated opening scene with a woman being murdered (some version she has clothes and other versions there is nudity), and it was added to film allegedly because Francis liked nude scenes.  The rest of the movie doesn’t add much.  It features a narrator who is almost speaking like a beat poet combined with a nature video commentator…just in quips and phrases.  It loosely creates a story from mostly nothing.

Tor Johnson is as you’d expect from him.  He is possibly the most unrealistic scientist in film as he “runs” (in the slowest, most lumbering fleeing scene) from the KGB but his massive, intimidating monster (which should be believable) isn’t very believable or scary…even the ending of the film has Tor “dying”, but he just kind of keeps breathing.  The director also cast his own sons Ronald Francis and Alan Francis as the lost kids.

beast of yucca flats tor johnson ending

He’s just misunderstood

The movie looks poor too.  In addition to the random opening scene which is completely different stylistically and tonally, the movie is poorly edited and there is virtually no sound consistency.  The few areas where the characters speak are poorly dubbed…it is an all-around rotten film.

Despite the poor production value, poor story, and poor acting, it is kind of fun to watch The Beast of Yucca Flats since it is amazing that something so misguided can exist.  The horror isn’t the movie, but the fact someone paid money to make it.  See The Beast of Yucca Flats if you dare…but it isn’t a pleasant trip to the desert.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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