The Killer Shrews is a 1959 science-fiction movie directed by Ray Kellogg. It was featured in the fourth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The movie has been released on DVD and is considered a cult classic.
Thorne Sherman and his first mate Griswold deliver supplies to a group on a remote island. The group, consisting of a scientist named Marlowe Cragis, his research assistant Radford Baines, the scientist's daughter Ann, her fiancee Jerry Farrel, and a servant named Mario, meet the captain and his first mate and advise them to stay with them in a house because a hurricane is approaching. Thorne goes but Griswold stays with the boat.
On the island, a doctor works to make humans half-size. This, apparently, will reduce world hunger as smaller humans would presumably eat less. Unfortunately, his experiments have also created some giant, venomous shrews. Thorne and Anne begin to fall in love, which angers Jerry. As the shrews run out of smaller animals to eat, they eat Griswold and close in on the people in the house, ultimately breaking in through the basement. It is discovered that the shrews have a poisonous bite, as a small single bite is enough to kill Mario. The poison kills Radford, and the shrews force the group (save for Jerry, who wants to stay) out of the house to escape to Thorne's boat. They do this by making impromptu armor out of oil drums and crawl to the beach lashed inside them. Jerry is killed by the shrews after he changes his mind and chases after the others, but the rest of the crew (Thorne, Ann, and Marlowe) manage a successful escape to the boat.
The "shrews" in this ultra-low-budget film are small dogs dressed in animal skins designed to make them look vaguely like large shrews (they even bark audibly in many scenes). Puppets made from similar animal skins were used for closeups. In reality, shrews are smaller than a mouse, being the smallest known mammal.
James Best as Thorne Sherman the boat captain.
Ingrid Goude as Ann Cragis, his love interest.
Ken Curtis as Jerry Farrel, Ann's fiancee.
Gordon McLendon as Dr. Radford Baines, Marlowe's research assistant, who is remembered in the film's Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode for being poisoned by shrews and typing out each of his symptoms before collapsing dead.
Baruch Lumet as Dr. Marlowe Cragis, the scientist who created the shrews.
Judge Henry Dupree as "Rook" Griswold, the rather overweight and stereotypical first mate.
Alfred DeSoto as Mario, the silent (and also overweight) assistant to the scientists.
- 'The Killer Shrews' has received numerous 'bargain bin' releases.
- A new colorized version was released alongside 'The Giant Gila Monster' as a double-feature by Legend Films.
- The MST3K version of the film was released by Rhino Home Video as part of the 'Collection, Volume 7' box set.
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- Free Download from the Internet Archive
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- Edited clip from the end of the movie