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The Hideous Sun Demon (1958)


Land of sunshine, beaches and pretty girls!
Every time you turn around, Brian Wilson was writing and singing a song about this place.

Now, we all know that staying out in the sun too long can be bad. Anything from awkward looking tan lines to cancerous melanoma can ruin your day.

The only thing worse would be turning into a murderous Sun Demon, getting all mopey and having your girl break up with you.

Filmed over 12 weekends with a $10,000 starting budget, and a crew of film students from USC fueled only by burgers and off brand soda, let’s listen to bad jazz, learn about mixing alcohol and science, and the importance of sunscreen.

The Episode

Words from Warren

I like to quote from one of my favorite reference books, the late Bill Warren’s “Keep Watching The Skies: American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties”.  Mr. Warren does not suffer fools gladly, and does not mince his words when it comes to either praising a film or flaying it alive.

In his entry on “The Hideous Sun Demon” he has this to say:

“Occasionally scenes look as though they were shot with a view to making the film look gloomy, moody and shadowy – real film noir stylization, which does match the plot and the emphasis on sexual obsession.”

“On the other hand, every movie has its champion. In Entertainment Weekly (1997), actor Tom Selleck cited “The Hideous Sun Demon” as “my guilty pleasure. It’s a great 50’s horror movie about nuclear radiation and mutation.  It’s about this guy who turns into a lizard if he goes out into the sun. And that was really neat.”

I would agree with this sentiment, and pretty much come to the same conclusion in this episode.
Still, it is a very fun movie, and I think that Warren is a bit too hard on everyone in the complete entry in the book.
But then again, one of the most endearing things about the book is that Warren pretty much hates or at least actively dislikes almost every movie in the book.

To me, the making of the Hideous Sun Demon is the real true story.  I love the idea of getting a bunch of hungry new filmmakers together, bribing them with free food, and getting them to both help you get a movie made and learn the trade in the trenches.

It’s the best example of on the job training I’ve ever heard.

The Links

“The Hideous Sun Demon” on DVD; on Amazon Prime Streaming; on YouTube
“The Hideous Sun Demon” on Wikipedia
Scripts from the Crypt: “The Hideous Sun Demon”
The Astounding She-Monster on Wikipedia
Robert Clarke – Obituary, IMDB, Wikipedia, Interview, and a secret, unknown Star Wars connection
Robert Louis Stevenson – “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde”

The Credits

I am very grateful to be able to use the music and sound effects of so many wonderful creators.
You can find a list of all music used, and all sound effects used, and links, here, on our Credits page.

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