The Giant Gila Monster is a 1959 black-and-white science fiction film directed by Ray Kellogg, and produced by Ken Curtis. It stars Don Sullivan, Lisa Simone, as well as Fred Graham, Shug Fisher and Bob Thompson. This low-budget B-Movie featured a cast of unknown actors (Shug Fisher being the most notable cast-member). The low-budget effects included a live gila monster, filmed on a scaled-down model landscape. (At one point in the film, the gila monster attacks a model train.) The movie has been released on DVD and is considered a cult classic.
The movie opens with a young couple parked in a remote, southwestern locale overlooking a ravine. A giant gila monster attacks the car, sending it into the ravine and killing the couple. Later, when some friends of the couple decide to assist the sheriff (Fred Graham) in his search for the missing teens, one of the friends (Chase, played by Don Sullivan) locates the crashed car in the ravine and finds evidence of the giant lizard. However, it is only when the hungry reptile attacks a train that the authorities realize that they are dealing with a (roughly) 70-foot poisonous lizard. By this time, the creature attacks the local town (emboldened by its recent attacks and hungry for humans). It eventually makes straight for the local dance hall where all the teenagers had gathered for a sock hop. However, Chase, a young mechanic and hotrod racer, manages to pilot a nitroglycerin charged car straight into the monster, effectively terminating it in a fiery explosion (but only after Chase had jumped from the car).
Like many horror movies of its era, The Giant Gila Monster was set in the southwest and revolved around a cast of teenage characters. However, unlike these films, the story does not involve the motif of science-gone-awry, or issues related to the dawn of the nuclear age. As such, the film does not have the standard "scientist"-type character, nor does it attempt to give a full explanation for the monster’s origins. For these reasons, Gila Monster lacks the traditional moral statement that was often tagged to the conclusion of a sci-fi / monster film.
References in popular culture Edit
- This movie was used in an episode of Steve Smith Playhouse, in which Canadian comedian Steve Smith re-dubs the dialogue of only one character in various B-movies to achieve a humorous effect.
DVD releases Edit
- In addition to being featured on numerous "bargain box" discs, The Giant Gila Monster has been restored in color and released as a double-feature, alongside The Killer Shrews, by Legend Films.
- The MST3K version, along with an exclusive interview with star Don Sullivan, has been released by Rhino Home Video, as part of the Collection, Volume 10.2 box set. Rhino also offers the individual disk for purchase on their web site (for those who already bought the now-recalled Volume 10 and who don't want to buy the additional box set).