REVIEWED BY DAN STUMPF:         

  MURRAY LEINSTER – The Monster from Earth’s End. Gold Medal s832, paperback original; 1st printing, January 1959. A TREE THAT PUT ROOTS ON DURING THE ANTARTIC SUMMER AND WHEN THE 6 MONTHS OF NIGHT ARE COMING GO IN THE KILLING RAMPAGE OVER THERE OVER THERE IN THE ANTARTIC
?THE NAVY VS. THE NIGHT MONSTERS. Realart Pictures, 1966. Mamie Van Doren, Anthony Eisley, Billy Gray, Bobby Van, Pamela Mason. Director: Michael A. Hoey.
LEINSTER Monster from Earth's End
   Interestingly, a couple decades after “Who Goes There?” John W. Campbell’s story which was the basis for The Thing from Another World ( Murray Leinster visited that neck of the woods for The Monster from Earth’s End, which is a splendid book despite a cover that looks like a naked blonde in the clutches of a giant booger.
   It’s set on a remote Antarctic island serving as a way station for people and things going to and from the South Pole, and Leinster starts off splendidly, with the creepy arrival on the island of a plane carrying a mysterious cargo; most of the crew has vanished, and the pilot kills himself on landing.
   From here on the tension never lets up, as Leinster takes up the mood Campbell established in his tale and sustains it for nearly two hundred pages of solid chills OR BORING ........SHIT IT'S A OPINION

  concerns a small US Navy radar outpost on Gow Island, an island off the coast of South America. In Antarctica, some scientists have discovered specimens of prehistoric trees in the hot lakes region, HOT-SPRINGS BUT WHO CARES ....MEAT EATING TREES THAT EAT WHAT DURING THIS ANTARTIC SEASON IN THE HOT-SPRINGS? ...and are flying them back to Washington, D.C., intending to stop off at Gow en route to refuel.

Commanding officer Drake (no first name or rank is ever given; he is simply "Drake") is fairly uninterested in this, as he has his sights set on secretary Nora, who he is having an affair with. Since fraternizing is frowned upon in the Navy, the two have to keep their relationship secret, especially from supply officer Spaulding who it is suggested also has a bit of a thing for Nora. Love triangle ahoy! Spaulding is also slowly going stir crazy from too long of a stay on Gow, and Drake is intent on getting the poor bastard off of the island on the incoming plane.

Then something goes wrong, as they are wont to do in novels of this sort. The cargo plane begins flying erratically. The pilots won't answer Gow's hails, and dump their cargo before making an impromptu landing without lowering their gear, thoroughly crippling the plane and blocking the runway. Rescue crews rush out to the airfield but of the ten people aboard, only one of the pilots, named Brown, is found alive and he promptly shoots himself with his service revolver. Drake and co. can find no sign of the other pilot, crew members and the scientist passengers, and all but one of the tree specimens got dumped.

Everything from the plane, including Brown's corpse, is moved to a warehouse for safekeeping whilst the engineering crews begin attempting to move the plane off the runway. Drake's report to Washington is scoffed at; none of the top brass wants to believe that nine people can simply disappear off of a plane midflight (amazingly, that they fell out when the cargo got dumped never seems to occur to these idiots). All of Gow's personnel are instructed to write their own individual accounts of what they witnessed. Unsure what this is supposed to accomplish. Half of the reports will be some variation of "the plane flew wildly and then crashlanded."

Drake and Nora's tepid romance continues uninterrupted. Spaulding becomes increasingly unhinged, suggesting wild theories like aliens or even giant birds (!) as the culprits. Drake mostly just humors him. The tree specimens are discovered to be still alive. Head biologist Beechum has them planted near the island's hot springs to keep them viable until their trip to Washington after the runway is cleared. That night, though, mysterious things begin happening. First the dead body of Brown disappears! And something slaughters some dogs and destroys the nesting site of Gow's native seagull population!

Drake, proving to be pretty quick on the uptake, begins suspecting something nasty got brought back from the Antarctic aboard the plane, which killed the people on the plane and is now loose on the island. But can he and his men along with Beechum solve the mystery before living human begins begin disappearing? And can Drake's romance with Nora get any blander? You bet!

This was a rather tedious read. A fun idea but it drags way too much and spends too much time on the love story between Drake (whose name was changed to "Charles Brown" for the movie!) and Nora. Spaulding is at least entertaining with his kooky theories about giant invisible alien birds, and when the critters do show up, it does get pretty fun, but it's too little too late by that point.


 Navy may mark some notable point in his career, high or low, depending on your tolerance for schlock.
LEINSTER Monster from Earth's End
   As such, it’s … well … let’s be charitable and say it’s not completely successful. There’s some lurid photography by Stanley Cortez (Night of the Hunter), some of the characters are a bit deeper than usual, and there was obviously an attempt to re-capture the ambiance of Hawk’s The Thing, with spots of banter and sexual repartee among the principals (Mamie Van Doren, Anthony Eisley, Bobby Van…)

    …well, there’s another problem. Where Leinster could toss off a line like “Half the plane now was filled with monstrous, moving, incredible horrors,” and let the reader’s imagination do his work, and where Hawks tingled our spines with brief glimpses of some big nasty-looking Thing, Hoey has to trot out a few silly-looking rubber monsters and let them flop their limp tentacles about rather aimlessly while the actors try to look scared.
   It’s all a bit disappointing, and the resolution comes off as particularly lame, as if at some point they decided to just end the damn thing. Too bad they didn’t do it 90 minutes sooner.