Sting of Death (Review)

Sting of Death

Sting of Death
1965
Written by Al Dempsey and William Kerwin
Directed by William Grefé

How dare you complain about the Strategic Helium Reserve!

A Jellyfish Man terrorizes Florida in Sting of Death, and in so doing becomes one of the most ridiculous movie monsters in history. Not only is there a Jellyfish Man, but Sting of Death comes complete with it’s own rocking theme song, Do the Jellyfish by Neil Sedaka!

Sting of Death is important because the monster suit is ridiculous! He’s got a big balloon for a head! The rest of the costume is a wetsuit with partial monster slime glued on, but the gloves are painfully obvious thanks to some closeups. It’s one of the most ridiculous monster suits of all time. In fact, an list of awful monster costumes that does not contain the Jellyfish Man is suspect at best.
Sting of Death
Yes, a Jellyfish Man terrorizes women. Aside from that, it’s a pretty straightforward Creature of the Black Lagoon ripoff with elements of other horror classics thrown in. It also has a surprisingly high bodycount and many characters who act like gigantic douchenozzles. Almost enough to make you cheer for the Jellyfish Man. So instead, I just cheer for everyone to die. I almost get my wish. Almost…

Sting of Death features plenty of women in bikinis who are manhandled (Jellyfish Manhandled?) and killed by the monster. The (obvious) villain is revealed to have all sorts of issues with women, but these types of films also explore the creators’ issues with women. Sometime there are so many issues that you have to put them into longboxes and sell them 6 for $1 at conventions. Let’s also just ignore how easy it was to transition into talking about comic books while discussing issues with women.

There was almost an unbelievable tragedy with regards to Sting of Death, in that the film was almost lost forever. In fact, when a print was located, it was in terrible condition and covered with mold, causing a scramble to try to find a lab that could handle all the mold and decay. Luckily for film preservation history, things turned out okay, and now that Sting of Death is in the digital world, where it will exist forever. Being spread around on tapes, DVDs, on-demand streaming, digital downloads, torrents, and all methods of media sharing.

Sting of Death is on a Something Weird double DVD along with Death Curse of Tartu. Both feature commentary by director William Grefe, and include some cool information about the filming. Grefe is well aware that he made a low budget horror film with some ridiculous effects, but that’s part of the fun. Through this we learn the bump on Jack Nagle’s head was an actual injury that had to be written into the film, but it looks totally fake, which is hilarious. Another fun feature is one of the actresses is named Blanche Devereaux, who you might recall is a character on The Golden Girls, which is set in Florida.
Sting of Death
The scene set to “Do the Jellyfish” is hilarious because of the awful dancing. Every extra is dancing to a different beat and mixing up 1960s styles. You can’t help but be entertained by this sequence. Sting of Death was released in 1965, just as Neil Sedaka’s career was careening downward (his type of music was pushed out of the charts by the arrival of the Beatles, and Sedaka would be without a label by 1966), so this was a great get to have a former number 1 artist do the movie theme to such a ridiculous piece.

Parts of Sting of Death remind one of a beach party movie, but this goodhearted fun doesn’t last as some of the snobby boys begin mercilessly mocking Egon because of his deformity. While many of the women seem fine with this, there is one or two who object to the cruelty on display. Their protestations do little to stop the abuse, and will matter little later when the killing spree begins. The bad behavior makes many of the deaths much more satisfying, but Egon ruins all attempts to make him appear justified in his rampage. The bad behavior of the monster can’t be excused by bullying, he was killing before the party began and is full of excuses. The deaths keep him from gaining the coveted tragic villain slot, instead just turning him into yet another monster. He was treated like a monster for so long, he (literally) became one.
Sting of Death

Dr. John Hoyt (Joe Morrison) – Our generi-hero, a young handsome scientist who works with Dr. Richardson and has eyes on his daughter, Karen. Like all scientists, he’s a muscular manly-man who wouldn’t be out of place on the cover of one of those Men’s Adventures magazines.
Karen Richardson (Valerie Hawkins) – Daughter of Dr. Richardson and a scientist in her own right, but not a career scientist, she only helps out. Is sort of sympathetic to Egon, but hangs around with obnoxious jerks a lot.
Egon (John Vella) – Creepy hunchbacked one-eyed assistant who has an unnatural obsession with jellyfish. And there is a Jellyfish Man on the loose. Hmm… Has a habit of sneaking up on people. At one point is taunted by obnoxious party idiots. Has a crush on Karen.
Dr. Richardson (Jack Nagle) – Famous Florida scientist who does research on marine creatures, which includes jellyfish. Is very good at convincing his daughter to bring down a ton of hot single college girls to help with the research. Why, yes, he’s single, how could you tell? Has a bump on the head.
Jellyfish Man (Doug Hobart) – He’s got to be jelly, because jam don’t shake like that! Despite the enormous amount of jellyfish parts, Jellyfish Man retains his human intelligence, and murders and sabotages his way to his plans to destroy everyone out of hate. Especially women.

Sting of Death

A sunbather is dragged underwater by a mysterious creature as we beging Sting of Death! Dr. John Hoyt and Dr. Richardson work on sea life biology research, thus have brought a group of women to their Florida mansion because that’s how us scientists roll! Included in the batch of lovely ladies is Karen Richardson, who is back to visit her father. They’ll be a party tonight as the visitors and some local kids get down in the way Florida does best.

But there is a buzzkill at the location, and that is Egon, the creepy hunchbacked one-eyed assistant. Gee, who could the monster possibly be??? Egon is friends with Karen, who is the only person who really treated him kindly. When the sheriff brings by a body of a fisherman with mysterious sting marks, Egon has wild claims about huge Portuguese man-of-wars being the culprit, but no one believes him.

When a boatload of party animals arrive at the mansion for a get down good time, you see outsider Egon at the fringe of the party, watching from the sidelines, slightly measuring time with the music. But a bunch of party jerks rush Egon and begin hurling insults at him. They mock his looks and his not being a rich boat-driving jerkoff. They even threaten him, only Karen and one other girl protests their actions. Everyone else is fine with the tormenting, even laughing along with the bullies.

Egon flees, for he learned far too often that the real monster is man. Until he becomes a monster himself. It’s ironic. Okay, not real irony, Alanis Morissette irony. The dumb form of irony.

Karen sort of excuses their behavior by saying she knows they mean well…because she wants to smooch with John! Lousy smoochers, can’t trust them! Way to sell out for love, Karen.

“Do the Jellyfish!” says the song as everyone parties. And the do, they do do the Jellyfish. Perhaps, because everyone is doing a different dance. But maybe one of them is the Jellyfish! Or maybe the Jellyfish is to just do a bunch of random dances. Which means the Jellyfish was invented by the kids from A Charlie Brown Christmas!

The kids are sooo busy doing the Jellyfish that they don’t notice a horrible monster creep into the swimming pool. Kill them…KILL THEM!!!

Louise goes in the pool by her lonesome (no one wants to join her) and in her street clothes. She fails to notice the Jellyfish Man in the pool, due to undiagnosed crippling blindness. Helen Keller would have noticed a Jellyfish Man in her pool! Jellyfish Man stings Louise! Then he stings one of the obnoxious guys, Ben! But he doesn’t sting Hank, the chief jerk. Jellyfish Man does smash the radio so they can’t call for help before running off.

The party train gets in their boat to try to take the stinging victims to the hospital, except Jellyfish Man causes a huge hole to be ripped open in the boat and everyone spills out. Into the water, which is filled with jellyfish! Jellyfish being plastic bags with dyed cotton inside them, but we’re told that they are jellyfish so we can know what they are supposed to be. Everyone screams and are attacked by the plastic bags full of cotton and stock footage of jellyfish. They all die, even the one lady who tried to stop the people from being mean earlier. As 99% of the party people were obnoxious, I won’t be sad to see them go.

The secret sixth member of One Direction was quickly terminated

The main character ladies and the scientists sit at home and take out guns, because guns make everything better. If you are a funeral home owner! Guns will prove useless in this situation. Karen is now in love with John, and vice versa, despite their lack of chemistry or having much interaction or anything. We’ll go through a series of attempts to contact the outside world and just sitting around as the characters get picked off one by one. One particularly ridiculous kill happens when they go diving, and the other divers just don’t notice their teammate getting murdered by a Jellyfish Man in the crystal clear water. Shout out to the lady who decided this was the perfect time to relax with a long shower, back in 1965 this wasn’t yet a tired trope of slasher and monster films!

After enough of the cast has been jellyfished by the Jellyfish Man, Egon kidnaps Karen and takes her back to his underwater lair. He claims he did it all for her, but she spurns his advances. He declares her just like the rest, and begins to merge into a jellyfish man again. Until the boring John arrives to save the day and blow up the Jellyfish Man’s lair. That’s what you get for being jelly in a man’s world!

Sting of Death is pure cornball cheese made for the drive-in era, saved due to a miracle and now immortal. Despite being dated, cheap, tacky, misogynistic, and dumb, it was sort of fun. It’s no instant classic, and will have a bigger life on lists of ridiculous monster costumes than it will as a horror staple. But it was worth the watch, so enhance your knowledge of this interesting specimen.
Sting of Death

Rated 6/10 (head wound, flare, skull time, electronics, electronics, tools)


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Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

Sting of Death

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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!