“The desert is full of things that don’t belong.”
In the California desert, a meteorite has crashed into the Earth. This isn’t an entirely unusual event, but it is good reason for geologist Ben Gilbert (Phil Harvey) to collect a few rock fragments for study.
That night, a container of water is knocked over near the rock, which causes the rock to grow — killing Ben in the process. Dave Miller (Grant Williams), head of the geological office, finds the lab in a state of chaos and finds Ben’s corpse after returning from a business trip.
Dave’s girlfriend, Cathy (Lola Albright), is a teacher at the local school. After Cathy takes her students on a field trip, a young girl named Ginny (Linda Scheley) takes another fragment of rock home from the desert. Soon enough, her house suffers the same fate as the lab: ruined, covered in rock, and leaving her parents dead.
How can the mysterious meteorite be multiplying, and taking human victims? Dave, newspaperman Martin Cochrane (Les Tremayne), and the local police investigate.
The Monolith Monsters was directed by John Sherwood. The screenplay was written by Norman Jolley and Robert M. Fresco, from a story conceived by Fresco and Jack Arnold.
This is a unique creature feature in that the monsters aren’t really monsters, but space rocks with mysterious abilities.
This makes the film a bit less suspenseful than others of its type, but it still offers up an interesting story, with a high-stakes mission to rescue not only the town, but the world from being taken over by the meteorite. (Of course, as soon as it’s realized that the rocks can only multiply with water, a huge rain storm hits!)
The film stars Grant Williams, who also starred in The Incredible Shrinking Man. He’s a perfect fit to lead these little sci-fi gems, giving earnest performances that convince the viewer of whatever off-the-wall scenario is occurring.
The Monolith Monsters isn’t top-notch (it’s one of the lesser films in The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection set), but it’s fun and science-y, well worth a look. I’ll leave you with this rambly but wonderful introduction from the film’s opening:
“From time immemorial, the Earth has been bombarded by objects from outer space. Bits and pieces of the universe piercing our atmosphere in an invasion that never ends. Meteors, the shooting stars on which so many Earthly wishes have been born. Of the thousands that plummet toward us, the greater part are destroyed in a fiery flash, as they strike the layers of air that encircle us. Only a small percentage survives. Most of these fall into the water, which covers two thirds of our world. But from time to time, from the beginning of time, a very few meteors have struck the crust of the Earth and formed craters. Craters of all sizes, sought after and pored over by scientists of all nations, for the priceless knowledge buried within them. In every moment of every day they come, from planets belonging to stars whose dying light is too far away to be seen. From infinity, they come. Meteors!”