59°F
weather icon Clear

Lake, dam serve ‘Colossal’ bomb well

During the late 1950s and early ’60s, Hoover Dam and Lake Mead served as the filming locations for two cult-favorite horror movies. “The Amazing Colossal Man” and “Scream of the Butterfly” were filmed less than 15 minutes from Boulder City, which served as a popular place for the respective film crews to stop, eat and gas up.

“The Amazing Colossal Man” (1957) starred Glenn Langan. Langan was well-known for his work on Broadway before playing the role of Lt. Col. Glenn Manning for this movie. “The Amazing Colossal Man” started out to be a promising thriller in theory, but it was quickly muted by a less-than-stellar script.

The movie is about a plutonium bomb planted in the Nevada desert that turns Langan’s character into an irate giant. Of course, a plutonium bomb detonating in the Nevada desert couldn’t lead to anything other than a chain of ridiculous events and even more inconceivable, almost laughable, twists and turns.

Langan’s character is not only caught in the atomic blast, but he then starts to uncontrollably grow in size. Remember, the atomic blast only seemed to impact Langan’s character, which adds to this movie’s charm. When Langan’s character finally realizes he can’t stop growing, he walks a path of destruction through the famed Las Vegas Strip before ending up at Hoover Dam.

One of Langan’s finer moments is when his character is caught peeping in on a female inside her hotel room at the Riviera. Of course, he smashes in her window — which is easily the next logical step for someone who just survived an atomic blast! Then, as the character grows to over 60 feet tall, he smashes up the Silver Slipper and the Tropicana before moving onto the Sands hotel, where he tosses a convertible into a crowd of innocent bystanders.

With the military now shooting at him, Langan destroys the Vegas Vic sign and heads toward what was called the Boulder Dam aka Hoover Dam. A standoff happens, the military fires aggressively, and the colossal man falls into the Colorado River where he drowns. Tragically, the antidote to shrink him back to normal size arrives minutes too late.

While “The Amazing Colossal Man” is a great piece of offbeat cinematic and Las Vegas history, the role ended up typecasting Langan. The actor only booked two more bit movie roles later on in his life, one in “Mutiny From Outer Space” (1965) and the other in “The Andromeda Strain” (1971). Langan went on to become a successful real estate investor.

The other cult classic filmed close to Boulder City is “Scream of the Butterfly” (1965), which was shot primarily at Lake Mead. The movie starred Argentinean actress Nélida Lobato as Marla Williams. The film’s director, Eber Lobato, was Nélida’s husband. This was a movie that has since paved the way for directors like Eli Roth (“Knock Knock” 2016), who knowingly and repeatedly exploit the sexuality of their otherwise uncastable actress wives in order to sell movie tickets.

On the surface, “Scream of the Butterfly” has a very basic plot. Nélida’s character is a psychopath who marries a rich man with the sole intention to have him murdered by her equally money-hungry boyfriend. For this movie, the murder has to look like a boating accident. As the plot thickens, “Scream of the Butterfly” starts to explore the underbelly of sex, obsession and greed. The style of this film pays strong homage to the fashion of film noir, honoring great minds like Orson Welles and Fritz Lang.

The use of Nélida Lobato’s character’s sexual identity during the movie’s storm scene leaves little, if anything, to the imagination. However, it is cinematically crafted with class and leads up to a truly unpredictable ending.

I believe “Scream of the Butterfly” was a movie ahead of its time. The use of seedy backroom legal deals and raw, human desire complements the undervalued acting in this film. And unlike “The Amazing Colossal Man,” “Scream of the Butterfly” is horrifying because of the script’s believability and the plot’s possibility.

As a side note, Jim Morrison (The Doors) loved this film so much that he incorporated its title into the song “When the Music’s Over.”

Tanya Vece is an entertainment and music writer who resides and volunteers in Boulder City. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @holly woodwriter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Sometimes one word is enough

It should come as no surprise to anyone that 2020’s word of the year is pandemic.

Continued efforts to fight virus needed

A long, difficult year for many of us is coming to close. The COVID-19 pandemic came on early in the year and has remained with us. In so many ways the virus has disrupted lives. The early attempts to ease the shock of the rapid spread of the disease were not continued as the months wore on. We have seen the spread increase quickly at times and then subside as people worked to limit their exposure and the exposure of others.

Spirit of season worth celebrating

Welcome to our annual Taste of the Holidays issue.

Value of single-branch library system questionable

How would you react to paying up to 266 percent more at the local Albertsons for the same items sold at any other Albertsons in Clark County?

Facts undermine conspiracy theories

I generally don’t believe in conspiracy theories. I actually find most of them silly and baseless. The John F. Kennedy assassination in 1964 was likely the place where these alternate conspiracy theories were born. Along came the moon landing and the conspiracy theories questioning the authenticity of the event abounded. Then we have 9/11, one conspiracy advocate suggested the Twin Towers were rigged by the government to fall down.

Be open to new ideas, concepts

Peoples’ statements and written words to me are always amazing and fascinating, sometimes sad and depressing. There’s so much to take in coming from all directions. What’s true? What’s a lie? What do we believe? Do we take it all in?

Veterans’ service worth emulating

Yesterday, I couldn’t help but shed a tear or two as a small, private ceremony was held at the Southern Nevada State Veterans Home to thank veterans for their service.

Election should be wake-up call for nation

It is incredulous that a confused, frail 36-year United States senator and two-term vice president (who began his political career during Nixon’s first term) with an anemic political record, who rarely ventured more than 75 miles from his basement after 9 a.m., garnered almost 75 million votes.

Election requires patience, flexibility

This year’s election seemed to underscore the strange nature of 2020.