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First Friday: Museum hosts hideous inhuman being that defies every law of nature

RALEIGH — Don’t be ashamed to scream, it will help to relieve the tension when the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences shows the 1957 arachnid classic “The Black Scorpion” on First Friday, September 6 at 7pm. Free.

After volcanic activity frees giant scorpions from the earth, it’s up to fearless geologist Hank Scott to stop them from wreaking havoc in the rural countryside surrounding Mexico City. Scott is played by Richard Denning, whose long list of film roles happened to peak in 1957, when he also appeared alongside Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in “An Affair to Remember.” For some reason, he switched his sights to TV and landed roles as the title characters in “The Flying Doctor” and “Michael Shayne” series. After “retiring” in Maui he was asked to play the Governor in “Hawaii Five-O.” He agreed as long as he didn't have to be in every episode. Good call, as the show ran for 12 years, ending in 1980. 

Local rancher and geo-love interest Teresa Alvarez is portrayed by a soon-to-be playmate of the year (1958) Mara Corday, who as a Universal-International contract player was in almost every B picture that the studio made in the 1950s. She gave up acting in the early ‘60s to concentrate on marriage and motherhood during 17 tumultuous years as the wife of actor Richard Long. Since his death in 1974 she’s played supporting parts in her friend Clint Eastwood’s movies “The Gauntlet” (1977) and “Sudden Impact” (1983), just as he once played a supporting role in one of hers — “Tarantula” (1955).

“The Black Scorpion” was directed by Edward Ludwig, who had a flair for directing action pictures, including the John Wayne war epic “The Fighting Seabees” (1944), one of Wayne's better and most successful films. 

NATURAL HISTORY NOTE: The volcano shown at the beginning of “The Black Scorpion” is Paricutin, which erupted west of Mexico City in 1943 and was active for about a decade. Geologists from many parts of the world came to study this extraordinary volcanic event, which greatly expanded their understanding of volcanism as it was the first time they were able to observe the complete life cycle of a volcano, from birth to extinction.

Can’t make it Friday night? “The Black Scorpion” will be shown again at BugFest on Saturday, September 21 at 5pm in the main auditorium.

This is the Final First Friday to try your hand at animating the massive jaws of a T. rex in the Museum’s new special exhibit “Dinosaurs in Motion,” which features life-size dinos made of recycled metal that you can move via lever-and-pulley or remote control. The 14 anatomically-inspired sculptures were built by Asheville artist John Payne. Adult tickets are $2 cheaper on First Fridays (5-7pm) via the Museum Box Office or online at www.naturalsciences.org/specialexhibits. The exhibit closes September 12.

The Museum and the new Nature Research Center stay open from 5 to 9pm on the First Friday of every month, inviting visitors to witness a (classic) sci-fi or horror movie, wander through eye-catching exhibits, groove to live music from singer/songwriter Anna Rose Beck, or enjoy food and beverages at the Daily Planet Café. Additionally, the Museum Stores offer after-hours shopping (till 7pm) and an opening reception for J. Chris Wilson, whose show “From Murphy to Manteo” runs September 6-29 in the Nature Art Gallery. All exhibited art is for sale.

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, August 28, 2013