The passing of James Best, known by Gen-Xers as Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard, brought the 1959 creature feature The Killer Shrews to the top of my list of movies to blog about. And being an obsessive-compulsive completist, naturally I had to also cover the sequel….
THE KILLER SHREWS (1959)
Damn. Rosco P. Coltrane was fricking hot. He’s a sexy boatman who, along with his black buddy, comes to an island to deliver supplies…and is soon trapped there in a house with the few scientists who have accidentally turned little mouse-sized shrews into dog-sized maneaters They are seriously dogs in shrew costumes.
Naturally the black guy gets it first, and the Latin guy isn’t too far behind. Once we’re down to whites only, tension builds between Rosco P. Coltrane and the antagonist over the one woman on the island. Their fighting builds to an awesome scene of good guy Rosco nearly losing sight of the difference between right and wrong.
Meanwhile, the shrews start getting in the house, even eating through walls! Awesome. Now the group has to figure out a way to get to the boat without being eaten alive. And the plan is whacked!
Other 1950s creature features have nothing on The Killer Shrews.
RETURN OF THE KILLER SHREWS (2012)
Return of the Killer Shrews is even more of a b-movie than the original, but what do you expect. Gone are the dogs in shrew costumes. It’s all CGI monsters other than a few close-ups of puppet shrew mouths.
This is SyFy Network crap but it manages to celebrate the original with perfect campy spirit. The scene of the black guy dying in the original is even re-shot with a new actor to open the film!
After that, the crew of a reality show needs to get to the same island, and who better to take them than Rosco! Not only does he reunite with the shrews, he also reunites with Bo Duke. John Schneider is the star of the reality show and plays the ridiculous role for fun. And his character wants nothing more than to film with his shirt off. Yet sadly, that never happens.
James Best reprising his role is one of the highlights here as he gives a great comic performance and even delivers a little drama when he recounts the loss of his good friend; at last the black guy from the original gets some respect!
The silly CGI shrew attacks are a hoot, plus the house from the original is recreated. And Bruce Davison takes over the roll of Rosco’s nemesis. Plus, one of the leading men in the movie is this hunk. He can tame me any day…as long as he invites John Schneider.