If you don’t know what is in space…make it up.
An American satellite, the X-117, is launched to go beyond the famous "Flame Barrier". You know, that barrier 200 miles above the earth that doesn’t exist. On board is a chimpanzee. At first the satellite is presumed lost to the barrier, but it has instead crashed back to earth in the jungles of southern Mexico. Howard Dahlmann (Dan Gachman) goes into the Mexican jungle to retrieve the satellite. After being missing for four months Carol Dahlmann (Kathleen Crowley) comes to Mexico to find her husband. She hires Dave Hollister (Arthur Franz) and his brother Matt Hollister (Robert Brown), a couple Americans working locally, as her guides.
They get to the first leg of their journey. The natives in the area tell of strange things in the jungle. Animals dying. Further in they find an abandoned village. They run across some scared natives. The native confirm that the Dahlmann expedition went through the area a few months before. The expedition keeps going.
The next thing they find is a skeleton. Dave confirms that the skeleton is a native. He seems to have been burned. The native bearers find a wounded native with burns on his chest. He says something about a fire god before he dies. Then he bursts into flame. That night the last of their bearers disappears into the night. Eventually they find the Howard Dahlmann expedition's camp. The camp is deserted except for the chimpanzee that had been in the satellite. The last bearer reappears with an arm band that belonged to his brother. He says he found it in a nearby cave.
In the cave they find another skeleton. Apparently the bearer’s brother. Then they find a big glob of glowing, pulsating goop. Howard Dahlmann is suspended inside the goop. And the goop is getting bigger. It’s doubling in size every two hours. Whatever it is it came from the flame barrier, and it’s growing.
“The Flame Barrier” was released in 1958 and was directed by Paul Landres. The screenplay was written by Pat Fielder and George Worthington Yates. It’s your basic low budget “B” science fiction story. Only it takes most of the movie to get to the science fiction part. The rest of it is jungle movie.
There is the standard romantic aspect. Carol and Dave spit at each other most of the movie. But, as usual, toward the end Carol ends up falling in love with Dave the jerk. I guess when your husband has been sucked up by a blob monster all you can do about it is go on with your life.
I heard a lot of bad things about the movie. Some critics called it boring. Not expecting much I ended up pleasantly surprised. Yes, the science fiction part was only a small part of the movie, but it wasn’t boring to me. There was plenty of suspense and jungle hazards. The pace was quick and action continuous. The one question I had was, why did it take so long for the blob monster to absorb Howard? He went missing four months before and when his wife finally gets there he is still being dissolved.
Others may have had a problem with it because of all the jungle stuff. Being a Johnny Weissmuller fan I’m OK with treks through sound stage jungles. So be warned, if you are looking for lots of science fiction you’ll only find it at the end. What there is of the science fiction part is good. It’s a nice looking blob monster. Other than that, it’s still mostly jungle movie.