The Beast of Yucca Flats (released to television as Atomic Monster: The Beast of Yucca Flats) is a 1961 B-movie horror film written and directed by Coleman Francis. It was produced by Anthony Cardoza, Roland Morin and Jim Oliphant.
The film stars Swedish former wrestler Tor Johnson as “the Beast”. It starred Anthony Cardoza, Coleman Francis and Jim Oliphant in bit parts, as well as Conrad Brooks in a very small role. Director Francis cast his two sons (Ronald and Alan Francis) in the film as the two lost boys.
The plot concerns a Soviet scientist named Joseph Jaworsky (Tor Johnson), who defects and flees to a Nevada Test Site called Yucca Flats, only to be turned into a mindless monster by atomic radiation, stalking the desert. The film has very little dialogue and most of the speech is done by omniscient narration.
The setting for the film, “Yucca Flats,” was based on the real-life Yucca Flat, which has been called “the most irradiated, nuclear-blasted spot on the face of the earth”. In 1970, nine years after the film was made, 86 workers were exposed to radiation during the Yucca Flat Baneberry Test. In March 2009, Time identified the accident as one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters. Actual shooting locations for the film were all in California: Santa Clarita (desert scenes), Saugus (airplane scenes) and Van Nuys (opening scene interior).
The movie was filmed without a soundtrack. Narration, voice-overs and some sound effects were added in post-production. To avoid having to synchronize the audio to the picture, characters speak only when their faces are either off-screen or not clearly visible due to darkness or distance. Likewise, during scenes in which firearms are used, the muzzles of the guns are usually out of shot when the weapons are fired. During scenes of gunplay, many characters appear at first to have suffered life-threatening bullet wounds, only to appear in later scenes fully recovered with no visible signs of having been wounded. Extensive narration is used in lieu of plot points being conveyed through dialogue. Film historian Bill Warren stated “The AFI catalog says (the film) may have been reissued in 1964 as “Girl Madness“
According to producer Anthony Cardoza, the film’s closing scene in which Johnson’s character, expressing a final bit of humanity, embraces a jackrabbit, was not planned; a wild rabbit entered the shot while the camera was rolling, and Johnson improvised.
The film’s total budget was estimated at $34,000.
black & white, fullscreen, mono, 54 minutes, featuring the complete nudie-weirdo opening. includes scary atomic test films. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!