Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         

MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS. Universal International Pictures, 1958. Arthur Franz, Joanna Moore, Judson Pratt, Nancy Walters, Troy Donahue, Whit Bissell. Director: Jack Arnold.

   Don’t let the exploitation title fool you, as Monster on the Campus is actually a surprisingly captivating 1950s science fiction/horror film. Indeed, it’s of a quality far higher than a lot of the forgettable dreck churned out during the same era. Directed by Jack Arnold, this Universal-International movie stars Arthur Franz as Professor Donald Blake, a university scholar who, while researching a prehistoric fish, discovers a serum that – stay with me, folks – reverses the evolutionary process.

   As you might have guessed from the title and the premise, Franz transforms into a hairy apelike monster. He – or his monster alter ego — roams around a California university campus wreaking all sorts of havoc and mayhem. There’s murder, mystery, and a little on campus romance thrown in for good measure.

   Call it a werewolf film without lycanthropes or King Kong without Skull Island, but Monster on the Campus is actually something of a minor, if at times unpolished, gem.

   Filmed in black and white, with a good some particularly effective atmospheric moments, it also benefits highly from Arthur Franz’s strong performance. Although he was primarily a character actor, the other movies I’ve seen in which he had starring roles (The Sniper and The Atomic Submarine) have been taut, suspenseful thrillers that I was certainly glad I watched. The same can definitely be said for Monster on the Campus, a highly evolved creature feature that’s worth a look.