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Home > Movies > 31 Monsters #11: The Monolith Monsters

31 Monsters #11: The Monolith Monsters

October 11th, 2009

I don’t know that 1957’s The Monolith Monsters was a great film, but I’ve always found it oddly fascinating. Coming out at a time when sci-fi movie monsters came in perhaps four flavors–alien, robot, dinosaur and mutant–it served up a threat which remains unique to this day.

I believe that the first time I saw The Monolith Monsters was in grade school. Once a month or so, George Earle Elementary would offer an afterschool movie, dragging a 16mm film projector into the cafeteria and treating us to the likes of Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster or The Man Called Flintstone.

Strictly speaking, the Monolith Monsters weren’t monsters at all, but rather the remains of a crystalline meteorite with unusual properties. Exposed to water, they began to grow. They did this by absorbing all of the nearby silicon, which had the unfortunate side-effect of petrifying anyone unlucky enough to be in the area. For example, things quickly went south for the little girl who washed the “dirty” rock. (She got better.)

They may not have been monsters, but they were quite definitely monoliths. A rare desert thunderstorm catalyzed the meteor fragments, causing them to grow into towers hundreds of feet tall. Which wouldn’t have been so bad if they hadn’t been so prone to toppling…

The towers fell, shattered…and began to grow again. Pretty soon there was a horizontal avalanche rampaging across the landscape, thirsting for the lake or river that would have allowed to escape the relative containment of the desert and crush the entire nation in its rocky embrace.

Of course, science would eventually save the day. It was the ’50s, after all. But until then, audiences were treated to a singular monster menace.

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