Movies that suddenly yank on the emergency break and go speeding off in a completely different direction are rarely unremarkable. Psycho was this seedy little take-the-money-and-run flick until Janet Lee decided to take a shower at the wrong motel. The Gecko brothers howled through Texas on a blood-soaked crime spree before fighting for their necks against Mexican vampires in From Dusk Til Dawn. And an odd little creature feature called Beast From Haunted Cave (1959, 72 minutes) plays the shell game with its plot in much the same way.
The movie: Four hoods mosey into a sleepy mountain village posing as vacationers looking to do a bit of cross-country skiing. In reality, they’ve concocted an elaborate scheme — perhaps too elaborate — to distract Johnny Law by blowing up an abandoned mine, while they simultaneously relieve a bank vault of several gold bars. The honcho’s gal Gypsy is there to make eyes at a skinny, pipe-smoking ski instructor who’ll unknowingly provide their hideout when he takes them out to his secluded cabin. But right in the middle of all this, one of the robbers is putting the moves on this frisky waitress in the aforementioned MINE, when they’re attacked by a big, fuzzy monster. Only nobody believes him. This blood-sucking, tentacled ball of cobwebs stalks Romeo and his pals all the way into the wilderness where it takes up residence in HAUNTED CAVE when its not skulking around their cabin. By then, the original crime story is fading fast into full-blown chicks-in-cocoons horror.
Notables: No breasts. Six corpses. Bubble-bath serenade. Gratuitous player piano footage. Bitch slapping. Cave wandering. Graham cracker dunking. Amateur photography. Flare-gun attack.
Quotables: Heavy offers to give our hero "a .38 caliber nose job." Gypsy sounds like a fun girl, "I like to do things with my hands." But her sugar daddy is a piece of work, "Someday I’m gonna shut that pretty little mouth of yours for good!" and "I picked the bones of a thousand boobs, and I’ll pick the bones of a thousand more, because they ARE boobs and they deserve exactly what they get!"
Time codes: Turned away at the motel, "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" retreat to their love nest — an abandoned mine (14:35). First attack of the, um, whatever it is (17:55). Fisticuffs break out (41:35). Clear look at the beast (1:05:40).
Final thought: Not a great crime picture and pretty weak as a creature feature. Best reserved for true devotees.