Darn it! I missed this one. About the time it came out in June 1959 I was into my first days of Navy Reserve boot training. Hulu to the rescue again. This is The Killer Shrews, and from the title you know this is going to be bad. Remember, I watch these so you don’t have to. This is a product of McLendon-Radio Pictures Distributing Company. Details are from Wikipedia.
You know this is going to be about some giant shrews run amuck. Think for a moment. Shrews are the most vicious mammals on this planet, but fortunately they are small. Are you thinking this will involve some monster shrews? You guessed right. Here’s how it goes.
Two men piloting a supply boat approach a small island. They are Captain Thorne Sherman (James Best) and First Mate Rook Griswold (“Judge” Henry Dupree).
Strange things are about on the island. The two boat men are greeted coolly by the island’s five occupants. One, Jerry Farrell (Ken Curtis), brandishes a shotgun. The main building on the island has a heavily fenced enclosure leading to the main door. The gate gets bolted securely after they enter.
Heading up the occupants is Dr. Marlowe Cragis (Baruch Lumet). He has set up shop on this isolated island to conduct some experiments in animal genetics. Things are looking ominous. His pretty daughter Ann (Ingrid Goude) eyes Captain Sherman with some appreciation.
The thing that strikes me all through the movie is that from the time the two boatmen land on the island to the end of the movie, nobody ever eats anything. A dinner is discussed, but it never appears. However, whenever anybody is offered a drink (often) the drink is never refused. The movie lasts through one night and into the following morning, and the characters quaff down a lot of hard stuff throughout.
The first to get eaten is First Mate Griswold. Sent to secure the boat and stay aboard for safety, he gets surrounded by the giant shrews roaming the woods.
And I am not going to bore everybody with a diagnosis of the plot. Suffice it to say that two other characters get killed by shrew bites (poisonous) and ultimately devoured. Then Captain Sherman hits on the plan of using some empty barrels as protection from the shrews while the survivors make their way to the waterline and safety on the boat, anchored offshore.
The other survivor, Jerry, elects to stand his ground, and he is chased down in the woods and eaten when he makes a break for it.
Meanwhile, there is excitement as shrews attempt to get at the remaining three survivors working their way to the beach under their barrels.
But they make it and swim out to the boat, and that’s the end of the story. Captain announces plans to copulate with sweet Ann.
I hope I don’t have to explain what’s wrong with this movie. The plot is predictable, and acting barely qualifies for an open SAG file drawer. But you know what? They spent an estimated $123,000 to produce this and made $1 million at the box office. Not a bad return. A candidate for a Halloween movie sometime, with popcorn.