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The Hideous Sun Demon

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The Hideous Sun Demon (1958) starring Robert Clarke
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The Hideous Sun Demon (1958) starring Robert Clarke

The Hideous Sun Demon. Can radiation devolve someone into a lizard man in sunlight? Will he then go on a murder spree? Do you really need to ask?


First of all, let me say that the protagonist of The Hideous Sun Demon is not likable at all. He’s an alcoholic, who cheats on his girlfriend at the drop of a hat. He treats the lounge singer that he cheats with poorly. There’s a scene where he’s literally got her wrapped in an “itchy” blanket — after he’s soaked her and her dress. And then he tries to “liquor her up”. What a sweetheart of a guy. And, the character’s prone to massive bouts of self-pity. And, overacting.


  • The “scientific” evidence to support the idea of a man devolving is simply silly. No, unborn humans do not go through all the stages of evolution. I don’t care if you believe in Darwin, Creationism, or Von Daniken’s Chariot of the Gods. “Ontogeny recipitulates phylogeny” is simply false. Has been for over 100 years. It’s just plain silly.
  • Gil’s a jerk. A horny, immature, self-centered, self-pitying, alcoholic jerk. It’s really hard to root for him.
  • Why is Trudy attracted to Gil? Yes, he’s handsome. But he’s also manipulative, alcoholic, obnoxious, etc. In a sense, my heart goes out to Trudy. She appears to be one of those women that are constantly looking for love in all the wrong places.
  • Why don’t the police simply shoot the creature from a distance?
  • Why doesn’t Gil simply stay in the hospital under observation? It wouldn’t be much of a film, but it’s what a sane person would do.
  • Why are the night scenes so bright? I understand that the filmmaker wants the audience to be able to see what’s going on, but this is ridiculous.
  • The folks at Rifftrax mocked The Hideous Sun Demon mercilessly. And, the film deserves it.


Can I use the phone next?
  • Robert Clarke (The Man from Planet X, The Astounding She-Monster) … Dr. Gilbert McKenna, aka. Gil. The unlikable protagonist.
  • Patricia Manning … Ann Russell. Gil’s lab assistant and girlfriend. That he keeps trying to cheat on.
  • Nan Peterson … Trudy Osborne. The lounge singer, that Gil picks up in a cheap bar. He punches out her boyfriend George, and wants to … take advantage of her. Which he does. Something that gets him a beating later.
  • Patrick Whyte … Dr. Frederick Buckell. Gil’s co-worker.
  • Fred La Porta … Dr. Jacob Hoffman. The radiation-poisoning specialist, brought in to see if he can help Gil. Unfortunately, he can’t.
  • Peter Similuk … George Messorio. Bar patron, seemingly Trudy’s boyfriend. He gets punched out by Gil initially. Later, when Gil returns to the bar, he and some friends take Gil out back and give him a beating. Later, he makes the mistake of using a gun to force Gil outside in the daylight. He’s murdered by the Sun Demon shortly after.
  • William White … Police Lt. Peterson. Fodder for the Sun Demon to kill.
  • Robert Garry … Dr. Stern. The attending physician, who treats Gilbert after his radiation exposure. He wants him kept for observation for several days.
  • Xandra Conkling … Suzy. The cute little girl, who finds the total stranger hiding in their shed. And promises to bring him a cookie.
  • Donna King … Suzy’s Mother. Not exactly overprotective, until she realizes that Suzy’s been talking with the crazed murderer.


  • Robert Clarke wrote, directed, and starred in The Hideous Sun Monster.
  • In the scene where the radio announcer is warning the public about the killer on the loose, he finishes by saying “I return to music by the King Sisters”. Robert Clarke was married to Alyce King of the group.

Editorial review courtesy of Amazon

The Hideous Sun Demon is almost too wonderful to be believed. Scientist Dr. Gilbert McKenna drops his sample–oops!–of “a new isotope that has never existed in nature before” and consequently receives a massive dose of radiation. As so often happens in these cases, the results are gruesome and tragic–whenever he is exposed to sunlight Gil turns into a lizard man, driven to kill. “You mean a human being could evolve backwards through time?” asks the plucky Miss Lansing. Alas, her question can only be answered with a yes. Well, a yes and some hilarious “scientific” proof.

Even though he becomes a murderous reptile at the pull of a curtain, some obscure legal statute says that Gil can’t be kept in the hospital against his will. Full of whiskey and self-pity, he heads out on his own, a time bomb ready to go off the minute he runs out of zinc oxide. The pleasures of The Hideous Sun Demon are many: rubber lizard suits, headlines reading “Weird Killer Still at Large,” a lounge singer named Trudy with an unusually lopsided piano playing style, and day-for-night sequences in which the night is so bright that one cannot see the actors’ faces. Truly, a movie that must be experienced in DVD. –Ali Davis

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