After starring in crap like The Incredible Petrified World, Robert Clarke said, “Hey making a low budget horror movie is easy!” and decided to direct, produce, co-write and star in this uneven atomic age monster flick.
He found out making a good horror movie isn’t as easy as it looks.
Clarke plays an alcoholic doctor who accidentally gets hit with a massive dose of radiation. He shows no immediate signs of being harmed, but whenever he is exposed to the sun’s UV rays, he becomes an ugly scaly monster. He copes with his dilemma the only way he knows how, which involves drinking mass quantities of alcohol.
He contemplates suicide, but finds a reason to live in the form of a sexy nightclub singer played by Patricia Manning. One night they make love on the beach, which makes her gangster boyfriend jealous. When the thug tries to rough him up in broad daylight, Clarke turns into the hulking monster and goes on a rampage. He murders a couple of cops, scares some school kids and kills a dog. In the end, he gets gunned down by the police and plunges from the top of a water tower.
The Hideous Sun Demon is similar in some ways to The Incredible Melting Man (the hospital scene is almost identical) but isn’t nearly as much fun. You have to wonder if the esteemed Marvel artist Jack Kirby loved this movie as the creature looks a lot like The Thing from The Fantastic Four and features a lot of similarities to The Incredible Hulk as well. The make-up effects are rather well done, but as in The Alligator People (which was released the same year), the monster in this movie inexplicably wears a pair of snappy dress pants.
This would-be cult item has the benefit of a pretty convincing monster and a solid performance by Clarke, but little else. Despite showing the creature rather early, Clarke doesn’t turn the beast loose into much later in the picture. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but most of the scenes that take place in between the monster’s appearances play like a grade Z soap opera. It doesn’t help when you have to sit through Manning’s incessant droning on the piano TWICE, which is guaranteed to drive you up the wall.
There’s not much here in the way of fun dialogue, but the headlines do warn: Weird Killer Still at Large!
Clarke later help spoof the film when it was re-released and redubbed with comic dialogue as What’s Up Hideous Sun Demon? If some of the music seems familiar, it’s because it later turned up in Night of the Living Dead.
AKA: Blood on His Lips. AKA: The Sun Demon.