“A group of gold thieves pull off a heist and flee into the snowy wilderness, only to be pursued by a horrible, spider-like monster.”
Frank Wolf plays a cutthroat gangster Alexander Ward who’s used to getting what he wants. Along for the ride are his two gunmen Marty and Byron and his main girl Gypsy Boulet (Sheila Noonan. Noonan is actually fabulous as a “jaded woman regretting a misspent life”. Natalie the bar girl is played by Linne Ahlstrand. The gang winds up hiding out at a local ski resort instructor’s remote cabin in Deadwood South Dakota, after the heist of some gold. They try to muscle in on a local ski instructor Gil Jackson (Michael Forest) (The Saga of the Viking Women… 1957, One Step Beyond 1960, The Outer Limits ‘It Crawled out of the Woodwork 1963, The Twilight Zone ‘Black Leather Jackets” 1964 he’s 6′” and still acting!!!) who meets the gang at a Hotel Lobby, asking him to help guide them down the treacherous snowy mountains through the Black Hills to his remote cabin after they make a gold heist from a bank in town.-They need Gil as a guide until they can make their getaway. Gil warns them that there have been a series of deaths attributed to a cougar that has been seen in the area.
Later on, a sudden blizzard traps them at Gil’s cabin. Gypsy begins making a play for the wholesome hunk -Gil. She is supposed to be watched over by him at the ski lift until the bank robbery is done. Finally, a fourth partner will pilot a plane and pick up the gang flying them to Canada.
Alex Ward doesn’t mind if Gypsy spends some time with Gil since he plans on doing away with the big handsome lug once the heist is finished. The gangsters make a huge mistake in trying to create a diversion for their heist. Marty plants dynamite in the Broken Boot Mine and inadvertently sets off explosions in the nearby cave which unsettles the sleeping spider-like monster.
While Alex’s jealousy begins to boil watching Gypsy snuggle up to Gil, Marty puts business aside and sneaks off with the pretty barmaid Natalie. He takes her to the mine. Once he’s there, he wanders off just to set up the explosives and discovers a strange egg. While in the midst of a smooching session, Marty and Natalie are attacked by the strange Beast, but Marty manages to escape and returns all shaken, telling Alex that Natalie is dead. The next day, the gang pulls off the heist at the bank, and as Gil begins to lead them to his cabin, all the while he is sensing the presence of the Beast on their trail. At one point Marty hears a woman moaning and a strange wailing in the air. As he goes to investigate he finds Natalie, white as chalk all drained of blood and webbed into a tree wrapped up in a giant cocoon!
Once at Happiness Lounge (Gil’s remote cabin) Alex’s jealousy comes to a head and he fights with Gil over Gypsy who slaps Alex and the thug just slaps her right back to keep her in her place. The radio in the cabin reports about the robbery and the watchman who was killed. Gil wonders why she would even stay with such a sadist. Gypsy just feels like she’s been with him too long to leave him.
For comic relief, Gil’s housekeeper Small Dove, and Byron (Wally Campo) begin a sweet romance. They both hear the strange sound that Marty heard while on the trail toward Happiness Lounge. Marty runs out into the woods with his rifle and comes face with the webby Beast who smacks him down with one of its tentacle-like appendages.
The rest of the chaos unfolds as Alex plans to kill off any witnesses including his gal Gypsy who has now decided that Gil’s rustic life ain’t so bad! How will this all play out? I’ll leave that to you all because The Beast From Haunted Cave is a slice of campy pie with whipped cream. And the Hammond Organ adds a special 1950s cheesy ambiance!
The Beast itself could be considered something out of H.P. Lovecraft’s imagination, created by Chris Robinson. (who has a very impressive & prolific IMDb profile as an actor/director and writer if you care to look!)
Like many of Corman’s fantastic exploitation horror and adventure films, The Beast from Haunted Cave is as writer D. Earl Worth calls it a “tangential monster movie” with one foot in a heist/gangster film.
“Since Monte Hellman directed, the slowly-stirred low boil ingredients of Beast From Haunted Cave had the dry taste of studied existentialism found in his later films, notably The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind (1965)The plot was mostly Charles Griffith imagination working with Roger Corman…)…and the Leo Gordon script of Gene Corman’s Attack of the Giant Leeches in its focus on sleazy people and a type of monster that sucked blood at gruesome leisure.” –D.Earl Worth from Sleaze Creatures: An Illustrated Guide to Obscure Hollywood Horror Movies 1956-1959
Produced by Gene and Roger Corman The Beast from Haunted Cave is directed by Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop 1971) Charles B Griffith wrote the original story.
Corman had by now gotten a handle on his economic innovation, being able to shoot several films using the same locations or with the same sets. Corman chose South Dakota as it was a right-to-work state and the town itself Deadwood had a lot of potential, as it is a testimony to a legendary past. Corman’s Ski Troop Attack utilizes most of the cast from The Beast from Haunted Cave.
Stars Michael Forest (The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent 1957, a lot of 50s television westerns, various teledramas, and Dr.Kildare, The Outer Limits episode It Crawled out of The Woodwork 1963, The Sweet Ride 1968, 100 Rifles 1969, Who Saw Her Die? 1972, Deep Red 1975 —Michael Forest is currently working still as a very busy character actor) as Gil Jackson.
Sheila Noonan plays Gypsy Boulet, Frank Wolf plays Alexander Ward, Wally Campo plays Byron Smith, Richard Sinatra Plays Marty Jones, Chris Robinson plays the Beast and the Bartender.
This film debuted as a double feature with The Wasp Woman (1959) upon its theatrical release.
According to Chris Robinson, the actor who portrayed the monster, he added aluminum stripping to a plywood base, then covered the frame with chicken wire before wrapping it in sheets and muslin in order to create the monster’s skeletal base. He then soaked the frame in vinyl paint in order to waterproof the design, since it had to be used in the snow. The creature’s head was fashioned out of quarter-inch aluminum wire, which was then encased in steel wire and wrapped in muslin. The creature’s fangs and teeth were also constructed with aluminum wire. Robinson then placed putty and patches of crepe hair onto the design before adding spun glass in order to give it a cobwebby appearance.
Stephen King created a brilliant story with IT, though many of us were disappointed in the crab/spider monster as the ultimate reveal. The Beauty of The Beast From Haunted Cave is that it never pretended to be anything but an ancient cheesy creature that drags it’s catch into the cave! Perhaps if Pennywise transformed into something closer to a humanoid spirit that can eat children’s souls it might have had a more powerful impact…. just a MonsterGirl machination…