FRYEAN MYTHOS: (1) *drama,* (2) *comedy*
CAMPBELLIAN FUNCTIONS: *psychological*
I've not seen the 1957 crime film NAKED PARADISE. Ostensibly both of these films, written by Charles B. Griffith, re-purposed the core idea of that film-- a bunch of crooks making a getaway, and pulling some innocents along with them-- and just added a cheap monster for the drive-in crowd.
BEAST, Monte Hellman's first work for producer Roger Corman, is thin stuff, but it looks really good, thanks to stunning South Dakota locations. Since I haven't seen PARADISE, I don't know if any of Griffith's dialogue is recycled from the earlier film, but the snarky comments of the gangsters-- who have come to a ski resort in the mountains to steal gold bars from a bank vault-- make up for the flaccid action. The crooks, with an innocent man in tow, head for the (literal) hills. but they run into the Beast from Haunted Cave, an amorphous monster who lives up there. The script shows no interest in what the creature is or how it got there. I will note in passing that the main gangster's gun-moll-- who doesn't appear to have an analogue in the earlier crime-flick-- seems to be an original creation, though her world-weary attitude reminds me not a little of a similar figure in the 1955 Corman-produced DAY THE WORLD ENDED.
CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA, directed by Corman himself in a Cuban setting, lacks any of the visual elan of Hellman's BEAST, though purportedly Hellman directed some fill-in scenes for a TV edition. I would admit that there's a little more tension here-- the gang-leader is out to dump a treasure in the ocean to prevent his Cuban partners from getting their share, and his efforts are continually undone by both the meddlings of fate and a real-life goony-eyed monster. However, the comedy is so obvious that even the best scenes-- provided by a dimwit police agent working undercover with the mobsters (played by scriptwriter Robert Towne under a pseudonym)-- fall rather flat.
Oh, and that monster really sucks, regardless of Corman's attempt to send up his own cheap monster films.