Review of “The Beast of Hollow Mountain” (1956)

from YouTube

For our Saturday pizza and bad movie night, we once again turned to Mystery Science Theater 3000. They did not disappoint. This was a color 1956 Claymation monster flick involving a love triangle, vaqueros, bad dudes, a fistfight in the town square smashing a lot of honest vendors’ stalls, and the heroics of (*sigh*) the lone americano. And I don’t mean coffee.


In perhaps the early 20th century rural Mexico, three men look for lost cattle. The narration explains: “Deep in the back country of Mexico, there rises a grim and mysterious mountain, which is said to be hollow. Its interior has never been explored because at its base lies an impassible swamp. The superstitious link the hollow mountain and the swamp in their folk legends as places of evil, great evil. They tell of the strange animal from the dawn of creation that inhabits the area, coming forth to prowl and pillage only in times of drought. They tell of men and cattle disappearing without a trace. But perhaps these are only tales. Tales told by simple people.”

After Jimmy Ryan (Guy Madison) rescues his partner Felipe Sanchez (Carlos Rivas)  from quicksand, they find one poor beastie drowned. Jimmy believes someone or something drove the animal into the swamp. And he knows who! Don Enrique Rios (Eduardo Noriega)! He’s been trying to run him off the land since they established the ranch. Well, Jimmy’s going to talk to the Alcalde Don Pedro (Julio Villarreal) about this!

In the meantime, Panchito (Mario Navarro) sits outside the cantina where his recently widowed father, Pancho (Pascual García Peña), is busy getting plastered. When Pancho the elder emerges, he stumbles to his horse. Father and son mount. Good thing the horse is sober. Street urchins throw firecrackers, spooking the horse, who throws the pair. Panch the elder has one foot in the stirrup and could easily be dragged to his death.

Fortunately for him, Jimmy is on his way to Don Pedro’s house and sees what is happening. He stops Pancho’s horse and saves his life. Don Pedro’s daughter, Sarita (Patricia Medina), happens to be in the square shopping. Because Pancho works for her father, she stops to check in on him. She’s also concerned about the boy, Panchito, whom she regards as a son since his mother has died. They walk together to her home.

To top it all off, she’s engaged to bad guy Don Enrique, who shows up at Don Pedro’s. He tells Jimmy (I’m not making it up) to go back to Texas.

Felipe and Jimmy find out the next morning Don Enrique is not one to be messed with. Their entire crew has quit. Pancho and his son show up uninvited and offer to work in their stead (uh… no child labor laws?). Caught short, Jimmy and Felipe agree to hire them. Pancho goes out to the swamp, looking for lost cattle. He turns, sees a shadow, and fires his gun. That’s the last we see of Pancho—except for his sombrero. Major bummer for Panchito.


According to IMDB, parts of this were filmed on location in Morelos, Mexico, the same state where both The Magnificent Seven and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were filmed. This movie is nothing like either of those.

Jimmy, knowing full well Sarita is engaged, falls for her. She likes him too. That’s only part of why Don Enrique hates him so much. He wants his cattle.

There was so much I liked about this film. The monster first appears as two stomping legs. I laughed with delight and called out, “Earl Sinclair!” No, the dinosaur wasn’t convincing. But it doesn’t have to be believable to be enjoyable; I’ll settle for entertaining. And it was. It carried a cow in its toothy mouth. Its tongue hung out of its mouth (when it wasn’t full of cow) like a cocker spaniel’s on a hot day. It reached for our heroes through a roof and a fissure in the rock it couldn’t fit through, like Tom grasping (usually to his dismay) into a wall after Jerry.

On the other hand, the comic relief, such as it was, was provided by a man neglecting his son and drinking himself to death while mourning his wife’s death. I couldn’t find that amusing. That was just tragic. And Panchito—who spends a lot of time in the movie watching the horses—ends up without either parent.

Another mark against it is the climactic scene where the Claymation dinosaur is dispatched almost singled-handledly by the hero Señor Jimmy. The rest of the cast sits on their horses, arranged in a semi-circle, watching as Señor Jimmy saves the day. They should have applauded.

Oh, by the way, where is Don Enrique?

Uh… he’ll be along…

This could have and should have been a better bad movie.

I could not find this for free download, but it is available with MSTK3000 on Netflix.

Title: The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956)

Directed by
Edward Nassour
Ismael Rodríguez…(as Ismael Rodriguez)

Writing Credits
Robert Hill…(screenplay)
Jack DeWitt…(additional dialogue)
Willis H. O’Brien…(from an idea by) (as Willis O’Brien)

Cast (in credits order)
Guy Madison…Jimmy Ryan
Patricia Medina…Sarita
Carlos Rivas…Felipe Sanchez – Jimmy’s Partner
Mario Navarro…Panchito
Pascual García Peña…Pancho
Eduardo Noriega…Enrique Rios
Julio Villarreal…Don Pedro

Released: 1956
Length: 1 hour, 19 minutes

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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