Set in Mexico, The Beast of Hollow Mountain is for the most part the story of Texan cattle rancher Jimmy Ryan (Guy Madison) and his conflicts with local Mexican ranchers.
Ryan’s cattle (and some people) have gone missing in the vicinity of nearby Hollow Mountain and a mysterious swamp where superstitions abound. Ryan’s fearful ranch hands desert him, and the only staff he can get are a young Mexican boy called Panchito (Mario Navarro) and his alcoholic father Pancho (Pascual Garcia Peña), whose unexplained disappearance prompts a search of the swamp.
Meanwhile, Sarita (Patricia Medina) is engaged to be married to Ryan’s ranching rival Enrique Rios (Eduardo Noriega) but is having second thoughts.
For the most part, Hollow Mountain plays like a straight western drama, but 20 minutes from the end, the cause of the cattle disappearances is revealed to be – with no explanation or elaboration whatsoever – a prehistoric Allosaurus, rendered here in jittery stop-motion animation.
The film was co-directed by Edward Nassour and Ismael Rodriguez and co-produced by Nassour and his brother William. The stop-motion special effects shots were created at Nassour Studios on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, but the rest of the film was shot on location in Mexico with exteriors filmed in Morelos and interiors at Churubusco Studios, Mexico City.
The film is surprisingly well made and picturesque, and scenes such as Sarita’s rendezvous with Ryan in a vast graveyard and a Mexican fiesta look splendid in CinemaScope. Unfortunately, the monster lets the film down, with a plasticine look that’s more Morph than Gwangi.
Pascual García Peña