Not a very good sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man (1957). Somewhat predictably, there’s more than a little footage from the earlier film. That’s probably ok, as it makes sense to give the Colonel Glenn Manning character (Duncan Parkin) some flashbacks. The premise, though, is a bit much. I don’t mean the original radiation-from-nuclear-blast-makes-Manning-grow-big-time premise. Let’s just accept that as the history that War…Beast builds on. I’ll cite some revealing plot points from the 1957 movie that were hacked-up for this 1958 sequel.
The fall from Hoover Dam should’ve killed him; also, remember, he was supposed to be dying of heart-failure. Hmm, but he’s still in business somehow, so, then why doesn’t he show up in Arizona or California instead of Mexico? He travels hundreds of miles without being seen? Then there’s the small detail that he suddenly has a sister, when he had no family before. And all of that’s just baggage lost from the first movie.
Well, at least he’s on the rampage in the first scene here (but we get short-changed, as all we see is the truck that’s fleeing from him). Then there’s the obnoxious truck owner who can’t say “get the picture?!” enough. The boneyard of waylaid trucks is kind of cool. His sister Joyce (Sally Fraser) takes the sympathetic role; everyone else is pretty much hostile from the get-go. Still they settle on sedating him so he can be air-lifted back to L.A. to ‘study.’
Somewhat reminiscent of King Kong’s ordeal, he’s chained up; meaning, of course, that he’ll bust out. He does, but, no problem, more sedation, and he’s back in the hangar again. Only to bust out again. At least the doctors get the chance at getting another Ph.D by running ‘tests’ on Manning. He’s only briefly on the loose.
The best scene is the denouement at the Observatory, as he’s electrocuted when he messes with the high-voltage lines; the color is unexpected and really enhances the effect. He literally disappears, which is kind of disappointing, as though he weren’t real. It takes forever for all this to happen; he spends most of the time there just snarling and thrashing about. The only spark (bad pun) of personality we get from The Beast occurs as Joyce convinces him to leave the busload of kids alone.
Except for a couple of good scenes War…Beast does not maintain interest. In addition to the plot holes mentioned, there’s way too much filler, especially for such a short movie. I’m still not sure if the bureaucratic passing-the-buck stuff is supposed to be funny, or if it’s some implicit social commentary. What’s worse are the seemingly bored shrinks ‘evaluating’ Manning as though he were an ordinary patient. There’s no sense of urgency, tension, or drama in that scene. The almost complete lack of character development, the strong suit of The Amazing Colossal Man, is sorely missed.
Although Manning’s appearance is definitely frightening, he doesn’t do a heck of a lot other than hijack trucks and make hideous noises. Now that’s a Cold War for you. Can’t really recommend this Beast. Farmermouse says four acorns. 4/10