Beginning of the End (1957)

American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres, or Am-Par, decided to create their own film studio to make low-budget movies that they could place into their theaters, signing a deal with Republic Pictures to make them. And after the success of Them!, who else but Burt I. Gordon to make more giant bug movies?

Gordon did the effects by himself in his garage, bringing the magic effect he used for King Dinosaur: grab some animals and shoot them in front of a still photo. So he grabbed 200 non-hopping, non-flying live grasshoppers in Waco, Texas and brought them to California. At that point, the agriculture department got involved and somehow, only 12 grasshoppers live after they all turned into cannibals. One would assume the dozen that are in this movie are the toughest ones of all time.

That said, the film’s title was prophetic. For some reason, the studio stopped making films. Luckily for Gordon, he landed at American-International Picture where he kept making giant movies. The Amazing Colossal Man was next.

There’s a decent cast in this, with Peter Graves* as the scientist who uses radiation to better grow crops until some crazy locusts eat it all and — you guessed it — get big as well. Peggie Castle, Miss Cheesecake of 1949, was born for films like this and Invasion U.S.A. It also seems like character actor Morris Ankrum was a lock for nearly any science fiction film of this time, as he made Rocketship X-MFlight to MarsRed Planet MarsInvaders from MarsEarth vs. the Flying SaucersFrom the Earth to the Moon and this movie in the 50’s.

*Whose brother James Arness was in Them!

You can watch this on YouTube.

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