Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Hideous Sun Demon (1958)

Poster art for The Hideous Sun Demon (1958)The Hideous Sun Demon (1958) by #RobertClarke
#PatriciaManning #NanPeterson

Due to radiation, a scientist becomes a murderous lizard when he’s exposed to sunlight.

“The Blaze Of The Sun Made Him A Monster!”

“Thermodynamic horror from outer space!”

“Whiskey and soda mix, not whiskey and science.”

#Horror #SciFi

The Hideous Sun Demon (1958) was produced, directed, and cowritten by its star, Robert Clarke. Technically, he co-directed (according to the IMDb) with a guy named Tom Boutross, but it looks like Boutross didn’t ever direct much else (just some TV episodes many years later), so I will assume that Robert Clarke was pretty much in charge on the set. Most of Boutross’ credits were as an editor, and he edited The Hideous Sun Demon, in fact. So perhaps he influenced the finished product so much that Clarke credited him as a co-director. Who knows?

Robert Clarke was inspired to make The Hideous Sun Demon because he had recently been in a movie called The Astounding She-Monster (1957). The Astounding She-Monster had been a big success, and Clarke had received 5% of the profits, so he saw the potential of making another SciFi Horror movie. Did it pay off for him in the end? I don’t know. The Hideous Sun Demon was originally budgeted at $10,000 – but wound up costing $50,000. It got mostly bad reviews, but it developed a cult following. Later it was released with re-dubbed parody dialogue – in at least one case with Clarke’s blessing. There was also a short film sequel made called Wrath of the Sun Demon in 1965. But did any of that translate into actual profits? All I can say for sure that The Hideous Sun Demon was Robert Clarke’s one and only writing and directing credit. So, I’m guessing it wasn’t the cash cow that The Astounding She-Monster had been.

The main thing that this has all made me realize is that I really need to see The Astounding She-Monster. Maybe I watched it some years back, but I don’t have any memory of it, so…

Is The Hideous Sun Demon a good movie? Not really. But I enjoyed it thoroughly. It has just the right amount of silliness to make for an entertaining 74 minutes (or so). Aside from Robert Clarke, who has appeared in 170 movies and TV shows, the movie features an actress named Nan Peterson, who only made about 20 appearances in her all too brief career. I don’t really know much about her, but she looked to me like one of the many blonde bombshell contenders to come along in the wake of Marilyn Monroe. She even plays the piano and sings in this movie, which is kind of unusual in a1950s SciFi monster movie. I actually thought it was one of the highlights of the movie, to be honest. And if you squint just the right way, you could almost think she was Marilyn Monroe…

Screen shot for The Hideous Sun Demon (1958) featuring Nan Peterson

Or maybe that’s just me…

The Hideous Sun Demon (1958) is the kind of #NotQuiteClassicCinema that I might have seen on late night TV when I was young – but didn’t. I’m glad to have finally seen it now, and I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates strange and campy monster movies from the late 1950s. I may even revisit it myself on some future blazing hot summer #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.