in Shocktober

Shocktober: Day 4

The Killer Shrews (1959)

“Those who hunt by night will tell you that wildest and most vicious of all animals is the tiny shrew.” I don’t think you could ask for a better introduction to one of the best films about giant, poisonous, rodents ever made.Thorne Sherman (James Best) and first mate Griswold (Judge Henry Depree) have sailed to a remote island to deliver supplies to a small research team. What kind of research team? There’s a drunk guy, a swedish woman who believes shrews are “The most horrible animal on the face of the earth” and this scientist that plans to eliminate world hunger by shrinking people. Yeah, he’s gonna make people smaller so they don’t have to eat as much, flawless logic.

With the report of an incoming hurricane Sherman is advised to stay on the island but we doesn’t know is that the island is also inhabited by somewhere between 200-300 giant shrews that weigh between 50-100lbs! I don’t know if somebody went out and counted or weighed them all, they just know. Somehow these shrews were accidentally created by the German professor’s experiments. I mean that makes perfect sense, he’s trying to shrink stuff so he ends up with giant shrews, I’m sold.

The bulk of the action (or lack thereof) in The Killer Shrews is expository dialogue about the science of the shrews. Did you know that killer shrews are “More poisonous than snakes” and that their appetite is so great that if you trapped two of them together one would eat the other? If that’s so then why are there 300 Killer shrews on the island? There’s only like five people and they’re pretty hard to get to so why so many shrews? And for a movie about shrews there sure are a lot of cast members that have trouble saying “shrew”. Both the German scientist and Swedish woman always sound like they’re saying “shoes”, “Watch out for the shoes!”

How does this film address it’s own gaping plot holes? Why with more plot holes of course. I mean who really wanted to write a second draft of The Killer Shrews? It’s either that or they felt like they’d immediately struck gold and didn’t feel the need to “polish” the story. One scene that comes to mind is when the swedish woman threatens our hero with a gun because he wants to go out in the woods with the shrews. If you’re so concerned about his well being than why are you pointing a gun at him? Oh and I’ve almost forgotten the crowning achievement of the whole film, the “giant shrews.” They’re dogs, clearly dogs dressed up in ridiculous costumes. They act like dogs, they perform like dogs and they’re hardly scary they’re actually kind of funny.

But you know what? This film was a joy to watch, parts of it anyway. So if you’re really drunk, or really bored, or really stupid, maybe you’ll enjoy watching these ravenous shoes.

This scene right here actually scared me. Look for the seamless blending between puppet and dog.


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