Monster From Green Hell (1958)

A space ship containing giant wasps, mutated by American tests with cosmic radiation, crash lands in Africa, which can only mean one thing: a whole lot of dead black people! Our “hero” is Quent Brady (Jim Davis), a pompous caricature of idealized ’50s American manhood: a barrel-chested, chain-smoking, take-charge asshole.

Quent travels to the site of the crash to stop the raging beasts, which is the least he can do considering he created the monsters in the first place. “Green Hell,” incidentally, is the locals’ nickname for the area in which the wasps landed, a cursed area rumored to be populated by hideous beings; in America, we call it “West Virginia.”

As was characteristic of cinema of the era, the Africans have negligible value beyond food for the monsters and beasts of burden for the white heroes. In this film in particular, they’re portrayed as cowardly, ignorant, superstitious and almost infantile. One eye-rolling scene has Quent rushing to stop one of his guides from drinking from a poisoned pond: “Water poison! No drink!” he screams in his best local dialect. In another scene, after his guides desert him, he states calmly, “Alright, we’ll use men from the village,” as if they have nothing better to do. Then there’s the “hostile natives,” as they’re called, who attack our hero’s safari and are only fended off by setting the grasslands on fire. Who needs grass anyway?

The only semi-redeemable black character is Arobi (Joel Fluellen), who, despite a blind devotion to the white leads, less-than-stellar reasoning skills (Quent has to tell him to light his torch when they enter a dark cave.) and a distinctly American accent, is still a major character who manages to survive to the end. Although there’s way too much hiking through the wilderness in Monster From Green Hell, it’s still relatively watchable in a train wreck sort of way, and there’s a great moment of unintentional symbolism and humor near the end when Quent delivers a speech on the monster wasps, or as I prefer to interpret it, W.A.S.P.s: “The creatures we pursue are wasps, no matter how changed their shapes, no matter how large they’ve grown, they will multiply…They will overrun all of Africa unless we quickly destroy their colony.”

“Must you sit like that?”
“Boy, these natives look stupid with no Gunga Din helmets.”
“Does my chicken chest intimidate you?”
“I forget; are we good savages or bad savages?”
“No! Bad! Bad native!”
“Oh, why didn’t I listen to the condescending white man?!” 
“Pay no attention to the mutant bug behind the tree…”
By the time Shawn found out he had crabs, it was too late.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here