The Monolith Monsters

Movie Information

In Brief: A meteorite crashes in the desert, breaks into pieces, which turn into skyscraper-sized protrusions when they get wet — which then fall over and break, growing more and more towering rocks. Worse, these rocks can turn any organism into solid stone. As concepts go, yes, this is pretty dumb even for 1950s sci-fi, but the idea is sufficiently novel to merit a look — and it's played surprisingly straight-faced, which possibly makes it just that much more absurd.
Genre: Science Fiction
Director: John Sherwood
Starring: Grant Williams, Lola Albright, Les Tremayne, Trevor Bardette, Phil Harvey
Rated: NR

Nestled in the valley of a matte painting, is the sleepy little town of San Angelo. The residents of this outcropping of Norman Rockwelliana on the edge of the desert don’t know it, but they’re about to have a very big problem. Seems a very odd meteorite has crashed in the desert — a meteorite that has shattered into a lot of smaller rocks. And these are no ordinary rocks: Once they get wet, they spring up like an aquarium full of Magic Rocks — except they’re about the size of the Chrysler Building. Plus, they fall over and break into more rocks that, in turn, create more gigantic rocks that move inexorably forward, crushing everything in their path — and their path includes the town of San Angelo. Oh, and by the way, these big boys have the power to turn you into stone by sucking the silicon out of you. Don’t blame me, I didn’t write this. Fortunately, there are some intrepid geologists in town and they know a thing or two about rocks. Anything beyond that, however, requires outside help from a couple of guys who know more about these strange rocks. One of these boys gets himself petrified early on and, even with help, it takes the other one nearly half the movie to figure out that water is what activates the rocks. The question is can our heroes find a way to stop this marauding masonry before it’s too late? Well, you have to actually watch this kind of goofy bit of ‘50s B science fiction to find out. And really, it’s a little better than it sounds.

The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Monolith Monsters Thursday, Dec. 13 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.


About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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7 thoughts on “The Monolith Monsters

  1. Dionysis

    “it’s a little better than it sounds.”

    In my opinion, it’s a LOT better than it sounds, and was something of an interesting and different take on ‘aliens’ amid the bug-eyed creatures typical of 1950s sci-fi.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Oh, it’s an interesting concept. The problem — for me — lies in the script, or maybe I should say the dialogue, which is less than stellar.

    • Dionysis

      I agree with you; the dialogue was the weak link in the film, although the typical 7 or 8 year-old kid is unlikely to appreciate that fact.

    • Dionysis

      Of course not; only now, it can be enjoyed on a whole other level of appreciation.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Oddly enough — though a friend of mine in high school thought it was the bee’s knees — I had never seen this until a few months ago. So bear in mind, I’m coming to it fresh at 58.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Any movie of this ilk where people hung around afterwards debating believability issues did something right.

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