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Monster on the Campus (Universal International, 1958). One Sheet (27" X 41").

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posted by alias Morbius19 on Tuesday 8th of October 2013 09:28:44 PM Starring Arthur Franz, Joanna Moore, Judson Pratt, Nancy Walters, Troy Donahue, and Whit Bissell. Directed by Jack Arnold. This was Jack Arnold's last horror film for Universal, and the director pulled out all the tricks of his trade for this foray into the teenage drive-in monster genre. Joanna Moore and Arthur Franz star, and Troy Donahue makes an early screen appearance, in this campy campus creature feature. Universal's B unit produced another sci-fi/horror hybrid in late 1958. It comes as an interesting coincidence, being released around the time of Hideous Sun Demon. Evolution must have been a hot topic then. Both movies feature a Jekyll & Hyde theme with "regressive evolution" as the science part of their fictions. Directed by Jack Arnold (of Black Lagoon fame), Monster on Campus (MoC) has above-average production values for the B market. The acting is pretty solid, with a couple exceptions, and the props are also above-average for what the B market was becoming accustomed to. The overall effect is an entertaining, if somewhat predictable tale. Plot Synopsis A university professor receives a ceolacanth (a "prehistoric" fish still found off South Africa). A dog who licks up the melt water from the fish's ice, goes savage. His fangs grow. The professor, Donald, cuts his hand on the fish's teeth and gets more melt water in the cut. He feels woozy, so a nurse drives him home. She is found dead (of fright) and Donald's house ransacked. He remembers nothing. The police suspect him, but fingerprints at the scene are not his. Later, a dragonfly is eating (or drinking) off the fish body. It later returns 2 feet across. Donald kills it, but its blood drips in his pipe. He smokes it, and gets woozie again. He becomes an ape-man. In this state, he kills a policeman assigned to guard him. Donald is sure that the ceolacanth's blood causes reverse evolution. Dog to wolf, dragonfly to a Meganeura, and a man back into an ape-like cave man. Donald's bosses think he's becoming unglued with his talk of giant bugs and ape men, so he's sent up to a mountain cabin for rest. In the cabin, Donald decides to inject himself with ceolacanth plasma, tape record the results and had set up cameras to capture it on film. He does this, but his girlfriend, Madeline, is driving up to see him. She encounters the ape-man on the road, swerves and crashes. Ape-man carries her off. When she screams, a forest ranger investigates. Ape-man kills him with a hatchet. The police arrive too, but Donald has returned to normal. After learning of the killings, Donald decides there is just one thing to do. He says he'll take them all to see the ape-man. He injects himself. When he returns down the hill as the ape-man, the police shoot and kill him. In death, he reverts back to Donald. The End. The production values are good enough to keep a viewer focused on the story. As yet another evolution-based modernization of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it has some interest. Jack Arnold does a good job keeping the visuals interesting and the pace moving. The musical score uses many familiar themes and tones. One can almost hear the Creature's theme woven in there. It was also fun to see the old familiar trope of the "monster" carrying off the pretty girl in his arms. There's no Cold War here. There is only a minor element of atomic cautionary tale in that gamma radiation altered the ceolacanth's blood to make it the monster-maker. Radiation makes monsters. Everyone knows that. Several of the actors and others in MoC are familiar 50s sci-fi names. Jack Arnold directed Creature from the Black Lagoon ('54) and Tarantula ('55). Writer David Duncan wrote for Monster That Challenged the World ('57) and Black Scorpion ('57). Arthur Franz, who plays Donald, also starred in Invaders from Mars ('53) and The Flame Barrier ('57). Whit Bissel plays the skeptical Dr. Cole. He also played in Creature From the Black Lagoon and Target Earth ('54). Another Jekyll & Hyde -- Like Hideous Sun Demon, MoC reuses the good-doctor and evil-beast device. As in HSD, the transformation was accidental, not deliberate as in Jekyll's case. MoC does return to the chemical agent, and returns to the ape-like imagery of the evil-beast. Common to them all is the good-doctor not remembering what he did while the evil-beast. All three had the faithful girlfriend. He original and HSD had the "other" woman (Ivy and Trudy), but MoC had only a rather chaste echo of that in Molly Riordan. MoC returned to the moral of the original, that every modern man carries his beast within. The populist form of the theory of evolution is the unmistakable foundation of MoC. The genetic connection to the past was more scientifically clean than the embryology basis used in Hideous Sun Demon. The notion that chromosomes were additive over time was quite a leap, however. The ceolacanth was symbolic of evolution halted. Hence, it's blood (with some gamma ray help) had the power to neutralize those modern added layers. Hence the savage ape man, wolf-dog and giant dragonfly. Shown in the first couple minutes of the movie, Professor Blake's collection of anthropoid face sculptures is a classic linear progression. A quick-eyed viewer might spot Piltdown Man in the line. This "early human ancestor" was finally confirmed as a hoax in 1953, fabricated from a modern human skull fragment and an orangutan jaw. Scientists might drop bogus facts quickly, but the public tends to hang onto them -- especially if they fit the mental model. Near the end, Donald gives a little monologue on mankind. "It's the savage in man which science must meet and defeat if humanity is to survive." This was a rather Neitzschian view, that mankind was evolving into a better being, leaving behind his brutal self. Note, too, the science-as-savior angle. Mankind's savage nature (evil) was something chemical which science could cure. Bottom line? MoC is a notch above the typical B-movie fare of the late 50s. It's production quality is enjoyable. The recast of Jekyll and Hyde is entertaining too. A triple feature of the 1931 Jekyll & Hyde movie, the Hideous Sun Demon and MoC, would be fun. synopsis - second opinion. In this sci-fi film, a college professor must deal with the cataclysmic consequences that ensue when a transmogrifying dragonfly bites a prehistoric fish from Madagascar. Soon after the bite, the strange fish becomes gigantic and begins passing on its new ability to morph all it comes in contact with back into their primal forms. When it bites a dog, the dog becomes a wolf. When some fish slime ends up in the professor's pipe, the professor put it to his lips, and he turns into a rampaging Neanderthal with a very large stone-axe that he freely wields around the terrified college campus. Bloody mayhem ensues. review Any Jack Arnold movie from the 1950s is worth seeing, but Monster On The Campus is clearly in the bottom half of his output, despite some suspenseful scenes and clever moments. Arthur Franz brings a dour sincerity to his portrayal of Dr. Donald Blake, the researcher who falls victim to contamination from an ancient fossil that causes him (or any other living thing) that comes in contact with it to revert to a pre-historic state. The movie also provides a vehicle for established veteran players such as Helen Westcott and Alexander Lockwood, and newcomer Troy Donahue, which makes it a strange mix on that level; and the presence of ubiquitous horror/sci-fi player Whit Bissell gives the movie resonance with modern cultists (William Schallert must have been busy elsewhere during the three weeks this movie was in production . . .). But Monster On The Campus, just by virtue of its title, has a certain built-in campiness that expresses itself overtly in a few scenes that, undoubtedly, elicited howls, hoots, and mocking gasps from drive-in audiences at the time. In all, it's not as atmospheric -- except in a few stylistically claustrophobic scenes -- or persuasive as Arnold's best work, and even lacks the underlying sincerity that helped drive works such as The Space Children. It's a fun thrill ride within its modest budgetary and production dimensions, but not much more. College student JIMMY heads to campus with his dog, while in a classroom MADELEINE, the daughter of the UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT, gets a plaster cast made of her face by fiance DR. DONALD BLAKE. They are interrupted as Jimmy shows up with a special delivery - an ancient fish called a coelacanth that Donald has ordered from Madagascar. Donald notes that the coelacanth has a special ability to "resist evolution." The dog drinks some of the coelacanth blood - and soon goes crazy, attacking Madeleine. Jimmy and Donald subdue the dog and stick it in a cage. Donald takes a sample of the dog's saliva for a rabies test, and notes that the dog has huge teeth. It seems to be an evolutionary throwback to a prehistoric wolf. The UNIVERSITY DOCTOR's assistant MOLLY shows up to get the saliva sample. Donald cuts himself on the coelacanth's teeth as he puts it away, and soon feels woozy. Molly puts him in her car and takes him home. Donald passes out in the car. Molly goes inside to call the Doctor - and a CREATURE comes in and attacks her! Madeleine and a SECURITY GUARD look for Donald in the lab. He's not there, but the dog is back to being a friendly pet. Madeleine heads to Donald's house. It has been trashed. She finds Donald passed out in the back yard - and Molly dead! Cops soon arrive. At first they suspect Donald because they find his tie clip in Molly's hand, but he is quickly exonerated when the cops find an enormous handprint on a window. Is there a killer on the loose? The cops also note that Molly didn't die of any wounds - she had a heart attack. She died of fright! Donald lectures to his students about evolution using the coelacanth as an example. Jimmy shows up to check on the dog, and Donald tries to show him the huge teeth - but they are gone. Donald wonders if he is imagining things. Cop STEVENS is sure that someone is personally after Donald, but Donald has no enemies. Stevens gives Donald bodyguard EDDIE. Donald and Eddie note a small dragonfly land on the coelacanth. Donald also sees "crystallized bacteria" on a slide. He quickly shows the slide to the Doctor, but the bacteria seem totally normal. Did Donald imagine something again? Meanwhile, Jimmy and his girlfriend SYLVIA hear a strange, loud buzzing sound as they hide under some trees to make out. There is a moment of a fake scare, but it turns out to be another couple making out. Jimmy and Sylvia go to the science building - and here they and Donald all see a huge GIANT DRAGONFLY outside the window. Jimmy and Donald trap the giant dragonfly, which Donald recognizes as a prehistoric species. Donald studies the giant dragonfly. As he does so, blood falls into his pipe, which he then smokes. As the dragonfly shrinks back to its original state, Donald transforms into a PREHUMAN ANTHROPOID! The "anthropoid" smashes up the lab and kills Eddie. The cops come, but find only dead Eddie, a huge footprint, and Donald passed out. Donald recognizes the footprint as coming from a prehistoric subhuman, but Stevens thinks it must have been faked to frame Donald. Donald investigates, does experiments, and calls a PROFESSOR in Madagascar who investigates how the fish was preserved. Donald finds that the fish was preserved using gamma ray radiation! Donald cancels lots of classes to continue his studies, and Madeleine and her father are afraid he is cracking up. The President comes to Donald to ask him to take a leave of absence. Donald explains what he has learned - the coelacanth blood, treated with radiation, is transforming creatures into evolutionary throwbacks for short periods of time. Just as he explains this, Donald realizes that he was probably the person who transformed into the monster. Donald heads up to the University President's cabin, where he prepares to experiment on himself. He plans to inject the coelacanth blood into himself and capture the transformation with cameras he has rigged around the room. Meanwhile, Jimmy and Sylvia tell Madeleine about the giant dragonfly. Donald isn't crazy after all! Madeleine heads up to the cabin to see Donald. Donald injects himself with the coelacanth blood as Madeleine drives. He transforms into the anthropoid, trashes the cabin, and runs out into the road. Madeleine sees the anthropoid, screams, and crashes her car. A FOREST RANGER races to the scene and sees the anthropoid standing over her. He calls the cops and grabs his gun. The anthropoid carries Madeleine away. The cops trail them, and the ranger shoots the anthropoid in the arm. Madeleine wakes up and runs, the creature pursues and knocks her out again, and then kills the ranger. Madeleine recovers and makes it back to the cabin as the anthropoid transforms back into Donald. The cops meet them here. Donald develops the film from the cameras and sees a shot of the creature. He knows now that "the beast within" himself is the killer. He takes the cops outside, claiming to know where the anthropoid is hiding. As the Doctor looks on, he injects himself with the coelacanth blood one last time, telling the doctor to "watch closely and see evolution in reverse." He transforms into the anthropoid, and the cops shoot him before the Doctor can stop them. The Doctor and the cops watch in amazement as the dead anthropoid turns back into mild-mannered Donald.

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