The Beast of Yucca Flats is a 1961 science fiction horror film. It stars Swedish former wrestler Tor Johnson and was both written and directed by Coleman Francis. The film was distributed by fledgling independent Crown International Pictures. Some critics have characterized it as one of the worst science fiction horror films made, and one of the all-time worst.
The movie was filmed without a soundtrack. Narration, voiceovers and some sound effects were added in post-production. To avoid having to synchronize the audio to the picture, characters only speak when their faces are either off-screen or not clearly visible due to darkness or distance.
The film opens with the fatal strangling of a woman (Lanell Cado) who has just stepped out of the shower; it is implied that the killer molests her corpse. The identity of the murderer is never revealed and the murder is never discussed after that scene.
According to the film’s producer Anthony Cardoza (in an interview by film historian Tom Weaver), the scene was added after the film was completed because director Coleman Francis liked risque material. Some prints are edited to show the woman clothed for the duration of the scene (running 00:01:21), with the only forbidden flesh shown being a very brief topless flash as she towels herself in front of a mirror. The 2003 Alpha Video DVD print has a slightly longer version of the scene (running 00:01:33).
In 2010, a belated sequel was released, Return to Yucca Flats: Desert Man-Beast.
A documentary, No Dialogue Necessary: Making the Beast of Yucca Flats was released in 2011.
Having taken a shower, a woman (Lanell Cado) is strangled by a mysterious man.
Elsewhere in Yucca Flats, Soviet scientist Joseph Javorsky (Tor Johnson) defects to the West. Javorsky is carrying a briefcase with various military secrets, including details of a Soviet moon landing.
Javorsky and his American contacts are attacked by a pair of KGB assassins (Anthony Cardoza and John Morrison). Javorsky flees into the desert, walking for a great distance, and removing much of his clothing. When he wanders in range of an American nuclear test, the bewildered Russian is transformed by radiation into a mindless beast. He proceeds to kill a couple in their car on a nearby road, prompting pursuit from two police officers named Jim Archer (Bing Stafford) and Joe Dobson (Larry Aten).
Meanwhile, a vacationing family ventures along the same road…
“… there is barely any dialogue. The movie is mostly just explained by the narrator… a very monotone narrator at that. Some of the stuff he says is just nonsense and sounds like rambling. It is kind of like he was voicing over a nature video and accidentally ended up voicing over a bad sci-fi movie.” Basement Rejects
“Tor Johnson, whose utter inability to emote, heroic resistance to gravity’s pull on corpulence, and seeming unawareness to differentiate between real life and fiction make him utterly irresistible to the human eye. I challenge any film critic to watch this film, or any of his other classic B film appearances, and state that he dominates the screen like few cinema stars ever have. Granted, a month old festering corpse might attract the same sort of perverse voyeurism, but that’s just details.” Hack Writers
“The Beat Poet narration and the off-kilter editing unintentionally provoke comparisons with Dementia. The shocking bad taste of the opening scene … involves something from the steamy 1950s underground.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers