The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival continues its SLO County on the Silver Screen series on Friday, November 15th with 1959’s THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS!
Filmed in Cayucos in only two weeks in 1958, for $50,000, the B-movie features a 7-foot tall, lizard-like creature who really likes meat! Any kind of meat apparently! The 7-foot crab-man terrorizes the town, beheading its victims and sucking their bodies dry of blood. In one memorable scene, the creature flees with a man’s severed head dangling from its claws. It would be very scary….if it wasn’t so funny!
Presented by MidAmerican Solar, owner of Topaz Solar Farms, the fundraising series for the 2014 SLOIFF is also sponsored by Visit San Luis Obispo County & Film Commission; Cliffs Resort, Apple Farm, Sycamore Mineral Springs and SeaVenture; Q104.5 and the New Times.
Located right next to the ocean at 10 Cayucos Drive, the Cayucos Vets Hall will host the screening at 7:30pm on Friday, November 15th. Drinks and snacks will be available, as well as new 20th Anniversary SLOIFF T-shirts (they make great gifts!)
Here are a few amusing excerpts from an article by Jay Thompson in the Tribune (10/20/02) about the filming of the movie in Cayucos:
The back story of “The Monster of Piedras Blancas” begins with director Irvin Berwick and producer Jack Kevan at Universal-Inter-national in Hollywood in the late ’50s. Berwick was a dialogue director at the studio, and Kevan had made a name for himself as a makeup artist. His rubber-suited monsters can been seen in “The Mole People,” “This Island Earth” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Both men longed for greater artistic control and ultimately teamed up as VanWick Productions.
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Jimmy: “Murder, murder, murder. Mom, someone’s been murdered! Someone’s been murdered!”
Doctor: “Who was it, Jimmy?
Jimmy: “Mr. Kolchek. He’s dead. He looks awful.
Doctor: “Where son? Where, where?”
Jimmy: “I went to his store to buy some candy, and he was in his office, dead. And Mom, he didn’t have any head.”As rubber-suited 1950s-era monsters go, the Piedras Blancas creature has many fans, though the suit was a composite of several contemporary Universal monsters, most notably the “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Producer Jack Kevan “just reused casts that he had around,” Newsom said. “The feet, I think, are from the mutant from ‘This Island Earth,’ and the hands are from ‘The Mole People.’ The body itself may have officially been from the ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon,’ but there was a lot of work that went into that. And the head is entirely original.”
The monster was deliberately kept off-screen to build tension, but to young Berwick, who saw it daily, it was the source of repeated nightmares. “I was right there the whole time,” he said. “I saw the cameras, I saw the monster taking the head off, putting it on, and I was freaked out for years. I was scared to death of that monster.”