HoliDANGER! #6: The Monolith Monsters (1957)
The DANGER: Towering, crystalline obelisks, born from a meteor! Grow and multiply ceaselessly when exposed to water! Reach mountainous heights! Collapse onto and destroy anything in their path! Siphon silicon from all that they touch, even the living! Victims are turned to lifeless, organic statues! Capable of apocalyptic destruction!
The crystalline menace at the center of The Monolith Monsters claims its first kill early, and its chemical relationship to water is established almost immediately. A young girl survives an encounter, but begins succumbing to the deadly rictus caused by contact with the extra terrestrial rock. The attempt to save her leads to significant clues about the Monoliths themselves. This narrative union of the human element and the science fiction crisis is representative of just how smartly constructed the movie is. And we're joined by a cast of consistently likable, intelligent characters who put the pieces of the scientific puzzle together with refreshing speed and urgency.
But its not just the characters who think fast - at a razor sharp 77 minutes, The Monolith Monsters is one of the most precisely paced and perfectly structured films of its kind I've ever seen. Each new revelation about the threat is timed, like clockwork, with dramatic purpose. Odd how much faster it moves as a film than many of its brethren, given that its "monster" is a formation of rock that can't really move at all, in the traditional sense. But along with this ominous, almost beautiful alien geology, it stands out in nearly every way, as an impeccable, inventive example of the genre. An absolute classic.