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The Monster That Challenged The WorldYour February RMC II Results are in!

Tagline: "Crawling up from the depths... to terrify and torture!"

The Preshow Entertainment was Gilbert Gottfried doing stand up on a Comedy Central show from a few years back. This wasn't his best stuff, but it was still funny ("What does Jesus Christ put on his dashboard?").

THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD was, as RMCer Jackson pointed out, a misnomer. First off, there was more than one monster. Second (off), he (she, actually, unless the male laid eggs, which I suppose is possible) didn't as much challenge the world as inconvenience it. That said, I really enjoyed this movie.

Made the year I was born, which makes it a talkie, TMTCTW is set apart from the spate of radioactive/giant animals/sci-fi thrillers of that time because it actually had some decent ideas behind it. A small earthquake rattles the Salton Sea, and unbeknown to the navy base there, it has unleashed a sea monster (a giant mollusk, really). But they find out soon enough when one of their parachutists, on an exercise, lands in the water. The retrieval boat goes after him, and when he doesn't come up, a diver goes in the water. Then, the other navyman in the boat, waiting for the diver, looks up, as the shadow of the monster creeps up his body.

Newbie base commander John Twillinger, or "Twill" (westerns actor Tim Holt in one of his final and fattest roles) is in charge of the missing men. When they discover the parachutist, all his blood is drained (there's also "You Can't Do That On Television" slime that the monster left behind). They close the beaches, yet the diner waitress' rebellious daughter Jody and her navyman boyfriend Morty go for a swim. And never return.

Meanwhile, Twill finds time to ask out his hot secretary (a widow with a young girl), and somehow, amid all this, they go on a date to Mexicali.

Thanks to director Arnold Laven (MANNIX AND HILL STREET BLUES!!!), this movie had a wonderful honesty to it (hey, maybe the writers had something to do with that too?). It wasn't flashy. It knew what it was. It didn't try and be more than that. And although people talked in movie dialogue, the essence was real. And plot-wise, they took something that could have been silly and made a real story. Even the way they beat the monster was smart, although unfortunately, not very thrilling. And I liked the monster. It wasn't a Predator or an Alien. It didn't even look scary (when he moved his pincers, he appeared to be laughing). But it was a threat to mankind (if they get out of the sea through the underground river, they'll first kill all the sea life, then come on land...), and they had to take care of it.

Hans Conried - RMC Hero
I taped this movie because, well, I'm taping everything Hans Conried is in. Ever since I saw him play Mr. Livermore on an episode of I LOVE LUCY a few years ago. Since then, I've taped him on LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY, THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES and two episodes of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. And a lot of movies.

Now, here's what an idiot I am. I forgot I taped this movie, and it was on a few months ago, so I watched it. So I saw it twice in 3 months. But watching it a second time made me realize- Oh! This is JAWS!

And it was. The parachutist's death by unseen monster is Chrissie's death, the beaches closed with wooded signs being nailed into the sand, Twill is Chief Brody, the mother of the teen who died is Alex Kintner's mother, Twill going out with a diver to explore the sea is JAWS' Ben Gardiner's boat scene, and there's even a scene where someone says they can't close the beach with all those people on it.

As mentioned, we had a lot of fun watching this movie. Especially the drinking game. They mention "Salton Sea" a whole lot. It's even in the telephone exchanges (Salton Sea 243). Let's just say that we went through a lot of soda.

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