Movies-a-Go-Go: The Killer Shrews

1959 horror movie

Rating: 6/20

Plot: A guy winds up on an island where scientific research on overpopulation has gone awry. Shrews!

I'm in Washington with a lot of down time. There's a cheapo 50-movie set of "Horror Classics" that I've dove into before. I'm going to see how many of these I can knock out before I have to return to Indiana. Here are my stream-of-conscious thoughts, ones that I can't imagine anybody would want to read, on The Killer Shrews, a movie that you probably don't want to see.

Hi, there!

Fake thunder and a very serious narrator! It’s an intriguing start!

Two guys on a boat--a white guy and a rotund black man. The black guy doesn’t get a cool boat hat to wear, and I think that’s somehow racist. The black guy actually doesn’t look like he’s dressed for boat travel at all either, by the way.

My hand smells funny.

How long do you think it’ll take for the black guy to die? You know he’s not making it for the duration of this film. I'm even willing to bet that the shrews get to him first.

A love interest, and Thorne Sherman (because that’s his name; I looked it up) doesn’t even hide his randiness when he looks her up and down right in front of her scientist father. Keep it in your pants, Thorne!

I can’t tell you how excited I am to see a shrew kill one of these people. Actually, I can’t wait to find out what a shrew even is.

What the hell? Whose idea was it to put these things in a horror movie? 

Thorne just mispronounced the word hurricane.

“Rook,” the black guy, wasn’t dressed for boat travel. Ann, with her pantsuit and pearls, isn’t dressed for traipsing around an island.

Rook and Thorne. The black one is on the left. Dressed for boat travel? 

Ann, likely in this movie to be gawked at and to scream at shrews. 

Dr. Radford Baines, enthusiastic typist. He’s really into science.

Thorne says he’s not very good at “pure research.” I’m starting to doubt the guy can even read.

Ooh, Ann has slipped into something a little more comfortable.

More lascivious glances in the general direction of Ann.

He just mispronounced hurricane again. That’s not going to help your chances of getting laid, Thorne. Women who wear pantsuits and pearls on islands just aren’t impressed with men who can’t pronounce basic words.

Here comes Baines again, and he’s carrying something in the palms of his hands. And it’s a rat. This party’s about to get started!

Ann just screamed at the sound of a door.

Ann’s dad (Dr. Marlowe Craigis, a guy with a difficult-to-understand accent) apparently thinks shrew cannibalism is humorous.

“You got a problem, too? Que paso?” Thorne’s turning on the tough guy act, probably because he’s sexually frustrated. It’s been 17 minutes of movie, and he hasn’t fucked Ann yet.

Ann is played by Ingrid Goude with an accent I correctly identified as Swedish. She’s cute, but she can’t act. Her dad is played by Baruch Lumet. He’s Polish.

Insert your own joke about Polish scientists here. I'm not sinking to those levels. 

Ann’s engaged? Oh, a love triangle has developed.

“Rook” is out doing boat stuff. His time has nearly come.

“Rook,” in his attempts to flee from the shrews, tripped over a log and then broke a branch while trying to get into a tree. You have to hand it to him though--he did scurry up a tree spryly. The “Help! Help, Captain Thorne!” is about the least manly a chubby guy in a tree can sound though.

Ann: Stay here with me.
Thorne: Why? Are you sick or lonesome?
Ann: Both.
Thorne: I’ll take a raincheck on it. (Second time he’s used “take a raincheck” in the first 20+ minutes of this thing. It must be one of the 150 words the guy knows.)

“They’re the most horrible animals on the face of the earth!” The way Ingrid Goude says this is beautiful. How is Thorne keeping it in his pants right now?

“Sorry I had to threaten you with a gun”? Did I miss a scene or something?

Great! Baruch Lumet’s going to tell “the whole [incomprehensible] story.” I hate when these old "horror" movies get talky.

“I don’t take much to this Thorne Sherman. He looks like the type who would try anything.” It’s got to be the hat.

A guy who would wear that hat is the type who would try anything! 

Thorne doesn’t seem to have any worries about his pal “Rook,” likely because he’s horny and forgot the character even existed.

Ann just asked about Thorne being interested in the “strange things around here” and mentioned her accent as an example. So they are aware.

These scientists are throwing numbers around all willy-nilly, like they’re Trump cabinet members hurling alternate facts or something. Yet another science fiction movie where the science seems to have been researched by my middle school students.

I like how they all call the character named Mario, MARRY-O.

“You know what I’ve been thinking about, Mario? Ann and that captain. You and me.” What? Is he suggesting a menage-a-quatre? I'm perking up here.

A shrew appears to be a sort of dingo. Ugly little critters, and the effects that are bringing them to life here really aren’t too bad. [Note: I have no idea why I typed that. They're dogs with carpet draped over them. Not much of an "effect" actually.]

I looked up the director--Ray Kellogg. This and The Giant Gila Monster were his first two films. His five-film directorial career ended with The Green Berets. I’m thinking John Wayne could have totally saved this movie.

Black guy is devoured by shrews first. I’m guessing Marry-O will be the next to go.

“Si, senor. I will be careful.” Will those be Marry-O’s last words?

First they came for the black guy, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a black guy. Then, they came for the Hispanic, and I didn't speak up. . ."

A shrew close-up, and I’m reminded of the rat in Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Si, there goes Marry-O.

“Hemotoxic syndrome.” Is that a thing?

The hero is played by James Best, Rosco P. Coltrane himself! I didn’t recognize him.

I can’t wait to hear him say, “We’re gonna get those killer shrews. A-goo-goo-goo!”

The boys are having a bit of a pissing contest in a barn, and Ann’s emasculation of her dad (“You’ve never even fired a gun!”) actually made my balls ache. Ouch!

Thorne’s got the hat back on! I’m hoping for a scene where he kills a shrew and makes love to Ann simultaneously like Nic Cage in Drive Angry.

Did that actually happen in Drive Angry or was that in a dream?

Hell yeah, it happened! 

That pitiful fight scene between Thorne and Ann’s fiance was not worthy of the music that played over it.


Well, they found Rook. They ate everything but one shoe and that shirt that wasn’t suitable for travel via boat.

Ann’s fiance attempts to murder Thorne a second time, leading to a second pitiful fight sequence.

Oh, come on! You don’t know that Rook is dead for sure. He could easily be running around with one shoe and no shirt. You're telling me these dog/carpet hybrids ate his bones?

Yarr! Shrew! That was an amazing sequence there where Dr. Baines has his trousers ripped and a shrew has a great death scene.

Baines typed out his symptoms “right up to the moment of his death.” Nerdy scientist guy to the very end.

Now they’re digging holes into the walls of this scientist’s cheap adobe house. It’s turned into Night of the Living Dead but with shrew puppets. I think it’s a single shrew puppet used over and over again. Along with three dogs that appear to have shag carpets stapled to their backs.

Oh, hell yeah! They’re making tanks!

“We’ll make miniature tanks and get out of here. A-goo-goo-goo-goo!”

“It’s gonna be rough. But we should be able to duck walk to the beach.” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that. . .

With a choice of a bitchin’ “tank” and standing on the roof, the crazed fiance chose poorly.

Oh, man! There are like five of these dogs now!

The "tank"

Ann: something completely indicipherable
Thorne: Ann, what did you say?
Me: Yeah, seriously.

I believe he just told Ann to rest. They’re in four metal cannister things and duck-walking to the beach. How can it possible work if one of them stops walking?

Ann: something indecipherable
Thorne: What?

I don’t think this relationship’s going to work out since they apparently can’t understand each other.

I ended up liking that plan because it gave me the chance to see Ann wet.

“In 24 hours, there will be one shrew on this island, and he’ll be dead of starvation.” What? That doesn’t sound very scientific.

This whole shrew experiment had something to do with overpopulation, but it really never made any sense. I think it was just a sneaky way to finish the movie with audience knowing that Ann and Thorne are going to screw on that boat while her dad is thinking about dead shrews.

What? They return? And so does James Best? And he brings John Schneider with him? 

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