Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959)

Poster art for The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959) by #IrvinBerwick
#LesTremayne #ForrestLewis #JeanneCarmen

A doctor, a sheriff and a biologist pursue a creature hanging around a lighthouse.

“The fiend that walks Lovers’ Beach!”


#Horror #SciFi

It’s pretty obvious that The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959) was influenced by Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), which I saw on TV when I was quite young. I also had a friend who was obsessed with it, and had a book filled with with pictures from the movie. I knew another guy who, I think, had built of model of The Creature, or Gill-man. I may have even had a picture from that movie in a Famous Monsters magazine. In other words, Creature from the Black Lagoon was a super famous and popular movie. The Monster of Piedras Blancas, however, I had never heard of…

I shouldn’t say never. If memory serves me well, my favourite video store had a copy of The Monster of Piedras Blancas sitting on it’s shelves sometime in the ’90s. It had a  black and white photocopied cover in a clamshell case – which may or may not have meant that it was bootleg copy of the film. Since I had never heard of The Monster of Piedras Blancas, I was pretty convinced it was a bootleg at the time, but I may have been wrong about that. It could just mean that the original box cover had gotten damaged somehow. The funny thing is, I think that black and white photocopy actually deterred me from renting the movie. Maybe because I figured it would be a bad, bootlegged print of the film. Or maybe it just didn’t look exciting – I’m not sure. Whatever the reason for my reluctance, it meant that I didn’t see The Monster of Piedras Blancas until I watched it last Friday,

Long story short, I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. I thought it was good old fashioned B-movie fun. When I noticed that it was set in and around a lighthouse, I almost wondered it I HAD seen it before. But I was getting it confused with Tormented (1960), which is a movie I stumbled onto and enjoyed some years back. That one is ghost story. This one is a creature feature. It’s about a lighthouse keeper who leaves food out to appease a sea monster who lives in a nearby cave. I think he’s attempting to prevent the creature from going on a rampage and eating people. Unfortunately, the local grocer stops giving the lighthouse keeper his free meat scraps, so the lighthouse keeper has to quit feeding the creature. You can imagine what happens next…

Producer Jack Kevan had apparently had something to do with creating the Gill-man suit for Creature from the Black Lagoon, as well as the costumes for The Mole People (1956) – which I wrote about a while ago – so that might be what gave him the idea to do another movie about a guy in a rubber suit. 

Director Irvin Berwick only helmed 8 movies in his career. He also did other jobs, like dialogue coach, and had apparently, along with Jack Kevan, worked for Universal Pictures for a number of years. His last movie as a director was Malibu High (1979), which is a personal favourite of mine (or at least a movie I have great nostalgia for), and I expect to be writing about it in this blog sometime in the future. 

The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959) is most definitely #NotQuiteClassicCinema. It has some devoted fans, who remember it fondly from their childhood, but it’s not an iconic monster movie like Creature from the Black Lagoon, which it might have been aiming to emulate. I enjoyed watching it for the first time last week, and I can imagine watching it again in the future, on another #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.