The tranquility of a small Texas town is ruined when an enormous rear-projection lizard begins to terrorize the place! At first, the adults dismiss the kids' hysterics as nonsense. The sheriff is helpless and the adults fa... more »il miserably to defeat the thing, so it's up to the teenagers to take it on. Though this movie relies a little too heavily on plot and characters and not enough on giant lizards, it's still a fun slice of '50s camp. The lead character (played by Don Sullivan) sings some wildly inappropriate and goofy songs for some unintended comic relief. Rock & roll, hot rods, teenagers, huge monsters... all the elements are in place for this faintly ridiculous '50s funfest. --Jerry Renshaw« less
Best DVD transfer yet of guilty-pleasure monster cheapie
Surfink | Racine, WI | 08/18/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Everything about this movie says "stinker," yet I just can't help but like it; I've watched it at least half-a-dozen times since my early teens and just don't get tired of it. As every Giant Gila fan must know, it was produced by Ken Curtis (deputy Festus Haggen on TV's Gunsmoke) and directed by Ray Kellogg (The Green Berets, My Dog Buddy) back-to-back with The Killer Shrews. The pedestrian script is by Jay Simms, who did much better with Shrews, Panic in Year Zero, and Creation of the Humanoids, and the repetitious 'eerie' soundtrack is courtesy of Jack Marshall (who penned the memorable Munsters' TV theme). While all the kids tool around in custom "slingshots" and mouth some nifty jive talk, Giant Gila is just too NICE to qualify as a (typically sleazy) JD/monster flick. Don Sullivan (Teenage Zombies, Monster of Piedras Blancas) stars as keen teen Chase Winstead, who's so virtuous and upstanding that he ought to be canonized. He's working in a garage to support his family, keeps his buddies in line (no dragging!), helps the sheriff search for missing gila victims, writes and sings religious pop songs, is taking a correspondence course in engineering, and saves his money to buy leg braces for his polio-stricken kid sister! It's enough to make you gag. He gets additional saint points because his dad died on an oil rig owned by wealthy jerk Mr. Wheeler, and he's also got a beautiful but annoying and nearly unintelligible French girlfriend (Lisa Simone). Fred Graham, veteran of numerous westerns and flyboy flicks, plays the understanding sheriff, and Shug Fisher (formerly a member of the Sons of the Pioneers vocal group, along with Curtis) provides some cornball 'comedy' as Old Man Harris, whose 1932 Model-A is lusted after by the hot-rodders. Ken Knox is amusing as hep-cat DJ "Steamroller" Smith (he's driving while completely smashed when we meet him, yet nobody seems too concerned). The giant gila monster itself just seems to be sitting on the sidelines (exactly where is never really clear), observing a lot, and looking very normal-sized (the "effects" crew obviously had no idea how to shoot miniatures properly). When it does do some attacking it never interacts with any of the live actors (the film lacks a single matte shot, or even a cheesy double-exposure a la Bert I. Gordon, that would have put the monster and humans in the same frame). Since Ray Kellogg was a former special photographic effects technician at 20th Century Fox, it's a mystery why the monster scenes here are so lackluster. As if all this weren't enough, Sullivan sings the utterly cringeworthy "Laugh, Children, Laugh" (with ukelele accompaniment) not once, but TWICE during the picture (imagine a really lame Ricky Nelson or Everlys tune), although his rock'n'roll number, spun by Smith at the climactic "platter party," is fairly passable (it sounds like an Elvis ripoff). The gila monster gets to demolish a toy tanker truck and electric train, and is finally annihilated by Chase, naturally, who destroys his custom rod in the process. While never achieving greatness, Giant Gila Monster is a relatively painless 75 minutes of corn-fed schlock that should please fans of 1950s monster cheapies (and/or Green Acres).
Not as pristine as most Image/Wade Williams releases, Giant Gila Monster is still presented here in better overall shape than any video or DVD copy I've seen yet. The box says it's matted at 1.85:1, though by my calculations it's closer to 1.66:1 (1.70:1 to be exact) and anamorphically enhanced. Print quality is very good to excellent, generally exhibiting only light speckling, blemishing, and lining, although there are a few stretches where the speckling/blemishing is a bit heavier; not enough to be a major distraction, but noticeable. Otherwise, the black level, brightness, contrast, sharpness, and shadow/highlight detail are excellent throughout. The accompanying trailer is also matted to about 1.70:1 and looks fine except for some light to moderate speckling and lining. Additional extras include 12 chapter stops, five Wade Williams Collection trailers, and an Images Journal essay that's nearly as amusing as the movie, wherein Giant Gila Monster is discussed in scholarly terms more befitting a Bergman or Godard film. As is typical with this sort of thing the type is too small and condensed, making for difficult on-screen reading (at least on a 27" monitor). For the extremely cost-conscious, Diamond's full-frame edition (paired with Killer Shrews) isn't absolutely terrible (physical damage is a bit worse, plus it's softer, darker, more contrasty, and generally lacking in detail), but if you want the best available transfer, this is it."
Classic "B" Creature Feature From the Closing Period Of Driv
Simon Davis | 08/12/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ah those were the days, Rock'n Roll Music, Drive-in's showing the latest Troy Donahue or monster flick, hotrodders, and "making out", in quiet country lanes in "souped up" wagons. Gee the '50's must have been a gas! Well at least that's what I'm told it was like for teenagers back then as I wasn't around to know myself. Despite it's many faults 1959's "The Giant Gila Monster", is a real favourite of mine among the "Monster on the loose", genre of "B" movie making of the time. In every respect it's very much a product of the decade it was made in despite being released right on the tail end of the era that basically "invented", the teenager. By 1959-60 the gothic horrors dealing with Vampires and Wolfmen produced by the likes of Hammer Studios had largely replaced in popular appeal the 1950's Sci Fi/Horror dramas which usually involved some over sized creature, the result of misuse of atomic power, threatening mankind. Efforts such as "The Gila Monster", then were really the swansong for these type of monster films that had been so incredibly popular for the last decade. The title of this film is self explanatory but the film itself is interesting in that the "teenagers" in the story, just as in the classic "The Blob", are revealed as not the usual delinquents so often depicted in films of this era but instead as responsible and caring young people. The Gila Monster itself almost takes a secondary role here and is unfortunately rarely seen and underused and instead it's the human drama that keeps this story moving along. Front and centre to the action is the lead character played by good looking Don Sullivan, and while his character would appear to the cynical eye as being too good to be true he comes across in my belief as a very appealing character who makes this admittedly "B" level story much more interesting than it probably deserves to be."
Best lousy movie I've ever seen!
Surfink | 08/11/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is LOUSY! That's what makes it so much fun to watch! The gila monster is never shown in the same shot with the people he is supposedly attacking, the sheriff is a whiny, ineffective fool who couldn't solve a jaywalking case, and the main character, Chase, is so annoying with his "goody-goodness" and horrendously bad musical numbers,that you will relish the prospect of watching him get torn limb from limb by the gila monster (which unfortunately does not happen!). Having stated all that, let me say that if you like campy sci-fi you couldn't find a better movie if you raided Ed Wood's own personal movie vault! You'll savor every agonizing minute! Buy it now!"
Aka "Elvis Vs. The Super-Imposed Mildly Menacing Lizard"
Matt Hanke | Choctaw, Oklahoma United States | 04/30/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I can sum up this movie in one word, "wierd". I first saw "The Giant Gila Monster" late at night as part of a local t.v. station's Godzilla Monster Week (no, the giant lizard in this film is of no relation to the King of the Monsters). I remember being disappointed after having stayed up late only to find that they were showing a monster movie that had absolutely nothing to do with Godzilla, but after having watched the movie I thought it was actually pretty good. Of course I was only about 5 years old at the time, and for me, 11:00 p.m. really was pretty late at night.Anyway, I just purchased a copy of this movie last week, and watched it (actually half watched - I kept falling asleep) this afternoon. I knew that it probably wouldn't be as good as I thought it was nearly 20 years ago, but I didn't think it would be quite as lame as it is.Granted it's a 50's B sci-fi flick, so you know it's going to be extremely wild, cheesy and campy - after all, that's what makes those movies so great. Even though this film does have its "wild" scenes, and it definitely is cheesy all the way through, and it is extremely campy - there's just something that keeps this one from being one of the classics of its kind. It's probably the fact that aside from the giant lizard's attacks (if you want to call them attacks), the rest of the movie is just plain boring.It starts out rather promising, with a giant reptile monster claw coming down violently upon a car with a couple teenagers inside, sending the car hurling over the side of a hill. Then the title comes up - "The Giant Gila Monster" - followed by the opening credits and some creepy background music. It's all downhill from that point on, though. The rest of the film centers around a small Texas town in the late 50's that seems to be populated by a bunch of rednecks, a semi-intelligent sheriff, a bunch of dancing teenagers, and our hero - an Elvis wannabe who lives at home with his "slightly cooler than June Cleaver" mom, his crippled daughter, and his "at times" annoying foreign girlfriend. Oh yeah, occasionally he gets to take breaks from his "hectic" life to play some extremely cheesy folk tunes on a toy banjo! By the way, I happen to like "real" folk music, but these songs just made me want to vomit!Anyway, now on to the real star of the movie - the giant terrifying Gila Monster!! Yawn. The only thing that seems to be menacing about this overgrown lizard is his enormous size. The only way he actually brings destruction are the times when he happens to be crossing the road and cars smash in to him, or the time when he walks under a rail road bridge and ends up causing the train to wreck simply because he's too big to fit under the bridge! Out of the about 10 "attacks" the lizard makes throughout the film, only 2 were actually done on purpose! Certainly there was little for these backward citizens to actually fear from this abnormally large reptile. One thing that certainly surprised me when watching this movie is that the fact that real life gila monsters are venomous was not even mentioned in the film. Some monster!All right, now that I've talked your ear off about this movie, decide if you really want to watch it or not, and then wait for it to come on late night t.v. I certainly wouldn't want anyone else to make the mistake I did of purchasing it. I wouldn't even suggest renting it, there are certainly better ways of spending a couple bucks."
The Giant Cheese-Log...
Bindy Sue Frønkünschtein | under the rubble | 01/01/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Don Sullivan (Teenage Zombies) is a small town mechanic and hotrod enthusiast in this scaly classic. Hoping to become the next Elvis, Sullivan's character begins crooning at any opportunity! His friends only serve as enablers for his heinous catterwalling! He really gets going when he serenades his little sister, while playing the infamous "banjo-lele". Meanwhile, a gargantuan gila monster is on a rampage of destruction. No model car or toy train is safe during the holocaust! Can our wacky teens defeat this tongue-flicking horror? Is their barn-dance doomed to cancelation? Will Don Sullivan ever stop singing? Watch as these and other mysteries are solved. Recommended for immature audiences (to which I happily belong)..."