Beast Of Haunted Cave, 1959. 5/10

One of those odd mash-ups of horror with crime drama. At a ski resort, no less. This sort of thing is hard to pull off–it usually means that something was added into the plot, maybe just to increase the running time. A problem with having two plots mean two sets of characters; making for some awkward relationships and transitions, and limiting the screen time for each actor.

There’s Jill (Kay Jennings), a local ski instructor, her brother Gil (Michael Forest), and the hoods Alex (Wolff), Marty Jones (Richard Sinatra), Byron Smith (Wally Campo), plus Gypsy (a sort of Cybil Sheppard lookalike, Sheila Noonan). Smith and Jones engage Jill to teach them to ski. Unfortunately, Smith is a stereotypical goof-ball; while everyone else acts more-or-less appropriate according to their roles. They’re aim is to pull off a heist at the gold mine’s office, then ski cross-country to a remote cabin, and ultimately, catch a plane to Canada. As a diversion, they add an explosion in a nearby cave to coincide with the heist.

Sounds good, but we know there’s going to get a surprise in that there cave/gold mine. Jones takes Natalie (Linne Ahlstrand) there so they can make-out; but they get ambushed by something with a sort of silky, ghost-like claw or leg. Plausibility is maintained by the rumor that a cougar is prowling the vicinity. Gil starts getting chummy with Gypsy on the slopes.

Meanwhile the heist goes off as planned–how Alex knew there was a stash of gold bars just waiting for them is a mystery. Eventually, everyone is wending their way to the cabin. We see glimpses of the beast as stalks them. Then, at night, Marty finds Natalie wrapped in webby stuff in a tree; also there’s a semi-transparent bunch of claw lunging about. Weirdly, the night scenes have very distinct shadows.

After they hole-up at the cabin, the beast takes out a straggler or two. A blizzard is forecast; Gil puts two an two together and becomes suspicious of the hoods. More adventure in the snow, as Gil and Gypsy, now making hot plans for the future, light out for the problematic safety of the cave. The hoods aren’t far behind the goody-two-shoes couple. I would’ve stayed at the cabin…

By this point, things get a lot more interesting. Not only is the spider-beast terrorizing the cave, it’s got all of its victims wrapped up there, helplessly awaiting a blood-sucking slow death. Ironically, it’s Marty that dispatches the thing with two handy flairguns. Only Gil and Gypsy survive (plus hopefully the rather grossed-out spider’s victims).

Beast From Haunted Cave is too slow in places, which is especially bad for such a short movie. The beast wasn’t bad for just a guy-in-a-suit deal; and its modus operandi was definitely creepy. In good creature suspense mode, we see more of it as the film progresses. The two plot threads are not spliced together too well–the romance seems a huge contrivance, and Byron’s character belongs in a different movie altogether. Yet, overall, this is still somewhat entertaining, especially the last sequence.

Farmermouse gives it five cobwebs, just to keep the spooky spider away. 5/10.

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