It takes something special for a film to become a classic. Everything needs to fall into place at the right time. The right actors, directors, budget, special effects, and many other aspects all need to be perfect. Thankfully, even with a small budget, “The Giant Gila Monster” has managed to win viewers hearts across the globe as a flawless example of how a movie should be made.
An unknown force is ravaging a small town. People are missing, trucks are destroyed, and a train is derailed. The population is baffled. Finally, Chase Winstead (Don Sullivan) puts the clues together and makes a last stand against the creature that has terrorized the town relentlessly.
Very few movies can do everything right, but “The Giant Gila Monster” manages to pull it off. Ray Kellog is a master behind the camera and uses a real life lizard for maximum fear. The acting is amongst the best from this era and…..
Aw, who the hell am I kidding? This is an awful excuse for a movie, one of the worst giant monster on the loose films of all time. This is a film so relentlessly dull, making it all the way to the end means you seriously need to get a social life. It lacks logic, acting, special effects, a plot, and any entertainment value. The monster itself (looking a whole lot like a Nile monitor) drags itself along the hilarious miniature sets (usually just dirt with sticks in the ground….seriously), obviously looking for something better to do.
Ray Kellog only found his way behind the camera a few times in his career. He was actually famous for working on the special effects in many classic films, like Cleopatra and the Seven Year Itch. Why he would choose to ruin his reputation with dredge like this is unexplainable. The film’s star, Don Sullivan, must have had some plans to take on a singing career after this since viewers are “treated” to one of his songs not once, but twice. This “ukulele song” as it is known as is easily the most memorable part of the film, but not for the reasons it should be. This is nothing else other than 74-minutes of sheer torture. (No stars out of *****)
For some reason, this film has found it’s way unto DVD about times. The version reviewed here is from Diamond Entertainment, a company who obviously finds joy in my misery. The film is presented (hardly) in standard full frame as it was to all the sorry saps that watched it in theaters all those years ago. The print used here is just laughable. Not only will you see writing (on the print itself) suddenly flash by a few times, but you’ll also see the VCR trying to track itself. Yeah, this is a DVD, transferred from a VHS tape. The compression here is just flat-out awful, with chunks of pixels marring every scene. It gets so bad, there is no way to make out the actors faces in a few scenes. Most of the movie is also so dark, you won’t be able to see what’s going on. (No stars)
Sound quality is slightly better than the video presentation. At least you can understand the actors. The films soundtrack (which sounds completely out of place) strains the disc and comes through as a muddled mess. At few points, the sound is out of sync with the video as well. (**)
Extras? Ha! Oh wait, there are extras. In fact, you get an entire movie. “The Killer Shrews” is another Ray Kellog delight, marginally better (almost tolerable) than the “Gila” disaster. The print and sound are also just a notch above the previous film, but not by much. The films did debut together, so keeping it that way is a nice touch. Anyway, the only other extras are four chapter stops between the 2 movies and some text facts about both. (***)
If by some chance you actually like this film, Drive-In Movies put out a double movie DVD set with this and Roger Corman’s equally absurd “Wasp Women.” Both of the films in that set are shown in 1.85:1 widescreen, which means “The Gila Monster”, was cropped. Not that it really matters since you won’t be missing much, but it is an odd choice. Of course, if you actively search out this film, professional help should be sought out immediately.