The Monster That Challenged the World

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The Monster That Challenged the World
Directed by Arnold Laven
Produced by Arthur Gardner
Jules V. Levy
Screenplay by Pat Fielder
Story by David Duncan
Starring Tim Holt
Audrey Dalton
Music by Heinz Eric Roemheld
Cinematography John D. Faure
Edited by Lester White
Gramercy Pictures, Inc.
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
June 1957
Running time
83 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $200,000

The Monster That Challenged the World (also called The Jagged Edge and The Kraken) is a 1957 science-fiction monster movie, about an army of giant mollusks that emerge from California's Salton Sea.[1] Directed by Arnold Laven, the film starred Tim Holt and Audrey Dalton.[2]

The Monster That Challenged the World was produced by Gramercy Pictures (not related to the former PolyGram division) and was theatrically released by United Artists in 1957, on a double bill with The Vampire (starring John Beal).

The film is currently available on DVD as part of UA sister Metro-Goldwyn Mayer's Midnight Movies collection.[3]


In the Salton Sea, an underwater earthquake causes a crevice to open, releasing prehistoric giant mollusks. A rescue training parachute jump is conducted, but the patrol boat sent to pick up the jumper finds only a floating parachute. One sailor dives in but disappears. The other sailor screams in terror as something rises from the water.

When the patrol boat does not answer radio calls, Lt. Cmdr. John "Twill" Twillinger (Tim Holt) takes a rescue party on a second patrol boat to investigate. They find the deserted patrol boat with a strange slime on it, then the jumper's body floats to the surface, blackened and drained of bodily fluids. Twill takes the slime to the base lab for analysis, where he teams up with recently widowed Gail MacKenzie (Audrey Dalton) and Dr. Jess Rogers (Hans Conried).

A young couple disappear after swimming. U.S. Navy divers investigate and discover a giant egg and the body of one of the victims. The divers are attacked by a giant mollusk, which kills one of the divers. The mollusk attacks the boat but Twill stabs it in the eye with a grappling hook. The egg is taken to the U.S. Navy lab for study and kept under temperature control to prevent it from hatching.

The mollusks escape into the irrigation canal system, attacking livestock, a lock keeper, a trysting couple and others. Navy divers locate the group of mollusks in the canal system, and use explosives to destroy them.

In the meantime, Gail is at the lab with young daughter Sandy (Mimi Gibson). Worried about the lab rabbits being cold, Sandy surreptitiously turns up the temperature control. Twill calls the lab and gets no answer. He arrives and finds that the hatched mollusk has Gail and Sandy cornered in a closet. He fights it with lab chemicals and a CO2 fire extinguisher until other Navy personnel arrive and gun down the mollusk.



The story for The Monster That Challenged the World came from David Duncan, who also went on to pen scripts for The Time Machine (1960) and Fantastic Voyage (1966).[5] During production, Duncan's original work was titled The Jagged Edge,[6] before the screenplay was renamed The Kraken.[7] Prior to the film's release, it was once more retitled as The Monster That Challenged the World.[1]

Filming took place in 16 days on a budget of $200,000.[8] A majority of the underwater scenes in the production were shot at Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles. Other primary filming locations included the Salton Sea, as well as Brawley and Barstow, California. The close-ups were later filmed in a tank filled with water and plastic seaweed.[8]

In a 2016 interview, star Audrey Dalton recalled: "I thought it was a very interesting experience--as all my movies were in different ways. The director, Arnold Laven, had formed a production company with Jules Levy and Arthur Gardner. The monster stuff was fun, crouching behind a desk with a monster breaking down the wall. But you had to play it very straight. Once you start seeing the funny side of it, it doesn't work. Tim Holt had come out of retirement to do this movie. He was a quiet, very nice man--the most 'unactor' actor that I ever worked with. The film's poster features a woman in a bathing suit. People think it's me, but it was the actress whose character was drowned in the opening sequence. She's pulled into the water by the monster. We shot down on the beach for that. I think the rest of it was filmed along the California Aqueduct."[9]


A TV Guide review of The Monster That Challenged the World noted, "Fine special effects help this film along by adding an atmosphere of impending danger."[10] A later review by author Dave Sindelar of Fantastic Film Musings and Ramblings remarked: "For some reason, this fifties monster movie doesn't get much respect, but I think it holds up extraordinarily well. For one thing, I think the characters are unusually well drawn for this type of movie, and they're given a dimension and a sense of realness that adds a lot to the proceedings".[11]

Respect for the "monster" also dominated a later review of The Monster That Challenged the World in the Video Movie Guide: "This late-1950s sci-fi programmer is set apart by only one thing: the giant monster, which is life-size (not a miniature), and given plenty of screen time."[12]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Wallace Earl was credited as Eileen Harley, later using the stage name "Amanda Harley" and known for roles in films such as Clambake (1967) and Rough Night in Jericho (1967).[4]


  1. ^ a b "Overview: 'The Monster That Challenged the World'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: March 23, 2015.
  2. ^ The Monster That Challenged the World at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  3. ^ Arnold, Thomas K."Before the A-films arrive, 'psych out' with a good B-movie." USA Today, April 27, 2003. Retrieved: March 23, 2015.
  4. ^ "Biography: Wallace Earl (1926–2012)." IMDb. Retrieved: March 23, 2015.
  5. ^ Scheib, Richard. "Review: 'The Monster That Challenged the World'." moria. Retrieved: March 23, 2015.
  6. ^ Weaver 1999, p. 84.
  7. ^ Thomas, Bpb. "Hollywood." Daytona Beach Morning Journal, September 17, 1956, p. 12. Retrieved: March 23, 2015.
  8. ^ a b Stafford, Jeff. "Article: 'The Monster That Challenged the World'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: March 23, 2015.
  9. ^ Armstrong, Richard. "An Interview with Audrey Dalton on Olivia & Joan, Bob Hope, and William Castle". Classic Film & TV Cafe. 
  10. ^ "'The Monster That Challenged the World'." TV Guide. Retrieved: March 23, 2015.
  11. ^ Sindelar, Dave. Review: 'The Monster That Challenged the World' (1957).", April 14, 2003.
  12. ^ Martin and Porter 2001, p. 742.


  • Martin, Mick and Marsha Porter. Video Movie Guide (2002 ed.). New York: Ballantine Publishing Group, 2001. ISBN 0-345-42100-0.
  • Weaver, Tom. Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes: The Mutant Melding of Two Volumes of Classic Interviews. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1999. ISBN 978-0-7864-0755-2.

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