In a decade in which the human race was menaced by gigantic Atomic Age mutants of every variety, from prehistoric monsters (“The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms”, “Gojira”), to ants (“Them!”), a tarantula (“Tarantula”), scorpion (“The Black Scorpion”), praying mantis (“The Deadly Mantis”), lizard (“The Giant Gila Monster”), grasshoppers (“Beginning of the End”), an octopus (“It Came From Beneath the Sea”) and even Man himself (“The Amazing Colossal Man”, “War of the Colossal Beast”), it would perhaps come as no surprise that even something as innocent as the mollusk would somehow make an appearance as a civilization threatening monstrosity, though how threatening you can make an invertebrate that moves- quite literally- at a snail’s pace, is problematic at best, but the 1957 “The Monster That Challenged the World”, fortunately, doesn’t concern itself with such matters as it is far too engaged with such important matters as to whether young widowed hottie Gail MacKenzie (Audrey Dalton) will get her wishing well desire of a longer, more meaningful relationship with pudgy though stalwart Navy Intelligence Lt. Commander John “Twill” Twillinger (Tim Holt). Though her role can be construed as a continuation of the 50’s SF formula of useless but sexy female scientists or assistants to square jawed scientists, this film cleverly alters the clichés of the genre by making Gail the scientist’s receptionist. Her attraction to Twillinger is also removed from the usual romantic/sexual attraction by including a touch of paternal understanding toward her daughter Sandy, (Mimi Gibson in full precocious mode) a typically Eisenhauer era overly cute little darling in frilly dress and ribbons in the hair who you know is just hanging around to (a) accidentally set off the monster in preparation for an exciting climax, (B) be menaced by the monster in an exciting climax, or (c) both of the above.
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