Like with so many sci-fi horror films, this 1957 Universal horror starts with a meteor crashing into the Earth. But this time out is a little different. There’s no aliens seeking blood, raising the dead or trying to take over the world. There’s just the meteor and some rocks.
The meteor crashes just on the outskirts of San Angelo, California and the meteor breaks into hundreds of black rock fragments. Federal geologist Ben Gilbert (Phil Harvey) happens to collect one of the rocks and takes back to his office to examine. The head of Ben’s department, Dave Miller (Grant Williams), returns from a trip and finds Ben dead – turned to stone and the office destroyed by black rocks.
Meanwhile on a school trip out of town, a little girl happens to pick up one of the rocks and takes it back to her farm where she washes it in water. An autopsy on Ben is inconclusive and his body is sent to a specialist. The police, Dave and his girlfriend Cathy Barrett (Lola Albright) head to the farm of the little girl finding it destroyed by the giant black rocks, the girl`s parents dead and the little girl slowly turning to stone herself.
They finally discover that the rocks are from the meteorite and the rocks are draining silicon out of the Earth and people – turning the people into stone. The rocks also react with water. It causes them to grow big, fall over and then break creating more rocks that then grow big, fall over and then break repeating the cycle over and over. A rain storm helps speed up the process. Dave and the authorities need to find a way to stop the rocks from spreading all over the Earth before they wipe out life on the planet.
This is a pretty good little sci-fi horror. The threat is unknown, something is killing people but it turns out not to be aliens or the boogie man but simple foreign rocks reacting with water. The people are just unfortunate victims of a scientific chemical reaction. The monoliths remind of Warren Ellis’ comic series Trees where alien trees (for lack of a better word) are all over the planet for reasons that the people of Earth have been unable to determine. Here it’s just a meteor that happened to crash on Earth. The solution to the problem is a little too neat but it’s still a good movie.