Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

The Beast of Yucca Flats
I, like most people, first discovered Coleman Francis thanks for the TV Show Mystery Science Theater 3000. MST3K riffed all three films that Coleman Francis wrote and directed. The Beast of Yucca Flats is the second Coleman Francis movie I have seen after Red Zone Cuba. I still need to see The Skydivers so I can say I survived all the Coleman Francis films!
The Beast of Yucca Flats stars Swedish professional wrestler Tor Johnson who is probably best known for his role as a police officer in Ed Wood's infamous Plan 9 from Outer Space. But even Plan 9 is better than this movie!
Coleman Francis takes most of the blame for this awful movie (along with Tony Cardoza who acted in and co-produced all of the Coleman Francis films) as he directed, produced, wrote the screenplay, acted, and edited the film. The Beast of Yucca Flats was Francis' debut film but that is no excuse for the fact that it is incompetently made with an incomprehensible plot. For example, there is a murder at beginning of the film that had nothing to do with the rest of the movie and is never followed up on. The story, or lack thereof, is about man (Tor Johnson) who survives a nuclear explosion that turns him into a monster. Although the movie is pretty short, there are still a bunch of filler scenes like random shots of nature and a scene at a gas station in which the attendant is played by none other than Coleman Francis! I can't say I'm surprised that The Beast of Yucca Flats is currently 20th on the IMDB users all-time bottom 100 movies list.

The movie clocks in at only 54 minutes (even though it feels three hours long!) so two shorts were including in the MST3K episode. The first is called Money Talks! in which a 1950s boy gets advice on how to save cash from the ghost of Benjamin Franklin, while the second is titled Progress Island, U.S.A. and is essentially a 1970s infomercial for Puerto Rico. Both stunk but are good riffing material and certainly more watchable than The Beast of Yucca Flats!
This MST3K episode is from the sixth season of the show's Comedy Central era with Michael J. Nelson as the host. The episode aired about a month after the Red Zone Cuba episode which is referenced a few times with lines like "I'm Cherokee Jack!" Although The Beast of Yucca Flats is a terrible film, the riffing and host segments are great so I gotta give Mike, the 'bots, and the Mads credit for actually making this movie fun to watch!
Here's one of my favorite riffs from this memorable episode: "Abbot and Costello meet the Beast of Yucca Flats!"


  1. Ah...Coleman Francis...your legacy of suffering continues on...

    I can't WAIT to hear your thoughts on THE SKYDIVERS. As I've said before, it's his worse film!

  2. I can't say I'm "looking forward" to The Skydivers, but I'll be happy once I'm done with the three Coleman Francis movies!