by Eric McNaughton
There are soooooo many contenders for worst ever monster in a horror film… the dogs dressed up in The Killer Shrews, the men in dinosaur suits from The Land Unknown and of course, one of my favourites, the giant punk turkey from that classic The Giant Claw!
But surely a contender for worst ever has to be the mutant jellyfish /man creature (were-jelly?) from The Sting of Death. If you haven’t experienced the doubtful pleasure of this film do yourself a favour and track it down now!
Made in 1965 and shot in the Florida Everglades by William Grefe, it is a companion piece to his equally terrible Death Curse of Tartu. The story, such as it is, has a mad scientist (yes you knew there had to be one of those lurking around somewhere!) who has an underwater lab, all polystyrene walls, dials and flashing lights. A kind of budget version of the Bat cave. He is able to transform, as only a mad scientist can, into a teenage killing, tentacles Portuguese man-o-war.
It is truly a sight to behold! Wearing a black wet suit and flippers (they don’t even join so you can clearly see his ankles), the terrifying creature is made all the more scary by the addition of a few rubber tentacles glued on. But the piece de resistance is the alarming head of the creature… basically the actor is wearing a big see through plastic bag. Yes you read that right… a PLASTIC BAG!!!!!
Yes Sting of Death makes Plan Nine from Outer Space look like Gone with the Wind! It truly is THAT bad.
And there’s more! Atrocious acting, silly plot, ridiculous scenes (in one scene were-jelly has been lurking UNSEEN in the swimming pool while the youngsters have a party). With possibly the worst monster costume ever, Sting of Death is 100% entertaining.
It’s almost like an episode of Scooby Doo, you half expect the mutant jellyfish to be unmasked as an obvious hoax.
Oh and did I mention there is an Ygor type assistant who gets rejected and mocked by the pretty girls. And the pool party features the song Do the Jellyfish by Neil Sedaka !… yes, THAT Neil Sedaka, who must have been particularly hard up at that point in his career!
My favourite scene in the whole film is where the unlike able teenagers are attacked and killed by a swarm of jellyfish. If you struggled with the man-with-a-bag-on-his-head concept of the main monster this one will push you over the edge! The Killer jellyfish are literally some transparent sandwich bags tied with brightly coloured ribbons!
On the plus side this is possibly the most colourful film I have ever seen outside of a Disney cartoon. Everything looks stunning.
I would wholeheartedly recommend Sting of Death to everyone. And let’s face it, it’s far more entertaining than most of the rubbish Hollywood churns out today.