Movie Review: The Killer Shrews (1959)

Synopsis: Captain Thorne Sherman is delivering supplies by boat to a remote island when a hurricane forces him to remain onshore to wait out the storm. What he doesn't realize is the island is inhabited by mutant giant shrews that must consume their body weight in food every night and are running out of things to eat.

Who's in it? The movie stars James Best, Ingrid Goude, Ken Curtis, Gordon McLendon and Baruch Lumet.

Review: I recorded this movie some time ago but never seemed to find time to watch it until this past weekend, when my wife was busy with a sewing project and the weather kept me indoors. I had some doubts about this film when I started watching it and wondered if it would be more laughable than dramatic. But, as it turns out, it was actually better than I was expecting.

I'm not saying the movie was perfect. In fact, it took so long for any action to happen, I began to wonder if the film was just going to be a bunch of people standing around talking, drinking and smoking cigarettes. Plus the "shrews" themselves looked a little fake, even for the time period.

The movie, however, does have a surprisingly interesting story. In particular, I liked the fact the mutant rodents were the result of a legitimate research project (well, sort of), attempting to shrink humans to reduce world hunger rather than someone trying to make giant shrews just because they can (like way too many other monster movies).

I also liked how the writers decided to use the shrews' mutation to up the game a bit. Not only were they above-average size, a failed attempt to wipe them out resulted in them being more venomous than a poisonous snake with a simple scratch causing death in minutes. The part with one of the characters (I won't say which one) typing out the symptoms as they experienced them was pretty interesting to watch.

I think my only real complaint about this movie, other than all the talking in the beginning, was I thought the romance between Thorne (Best) and Ann (Goude) seemed a bit forced. While it's not unusual for a movie, especially from this era, throw in romance just for the heck of it, I also felt Thorne didn't exactly do anything to deserve her falling for him. Quite frankly, he was kind of a jerk and only seemed like less of a jerk when compared to the other men on the island. That, alone, shouldn't be enough.

Final Opinion: I don't think it was as good as some other, similar, monster movies, like Night of the Lepus. But, it was better than I was expecting and would make a good choice for a rainy day.

My Grade: B


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