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A couple of teenagers are reported missing in a small Texas town, and it is thought they eloped. Sheriff Jeff turns to his friend Clarence Winstead, a garage mechanic and leader of a hot-rod gang, for help. After a series of tragic motor accidents, it becomes apparent that a giant Gila monster is roaming the area depleting the town of its citizens and visitors, including two hot-rodding teens, and planning to attend the BIG record-hop party.Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The car Chase drives in this movie was owned by a local farmer and drag racer named John Mulkey, who won the B Street Roadster class with it at the 1958 NHRA Nationals. It ran a small block Chevy massaged to 302 cubic inches, and ran 105.5 mph in the quarter mile. The car has gone through several owners and major changes over the years, but still exists today. See more »
After the opening line is said by the girl looking out the window; "Hey here comes Gordy and Jennie!", they walk in behind her. See more »
"The Giant Gila Monster" is one of those films of old that despite its numerous flaws retains a certain charm that adds a special mystique to the experience of watching them. Often labeled as one of the movies with worst special effects in history of cinema, this small Drive-In classic shines among similar movies due probably to the same naiveté that made Ed Wood's movies legendary. Like Wood's movies, "The Giant Gila Monster" has more good intentions than talent behind the camera, and that probably is what makes it so special.
The plot starts when people starts disappearing in the roads near a small Texan town. The sheriff Jeff (Fed Graham) is puzzled by the case as the victims seem to vanish leaving no trace. With the aid of his good friend Chase (Don Sullivan), he starts an investigation that will lead them to discover that a monster of huge proportions has been hiding and is eating its victims.
The movie is centered around Chase and the Sheriff's friendship, and the parental relationship that exists between them. Despite having no father and with a handicapped sister, Chase never loses his optimism and is willing to help everyone, from his best-friend the Sheriff to his girlfriend Lisa (Lisa Simone), who is an immigrant and wants to get a job. All this is charged with the 50s innocence and that naiveté that gives the film its charm.
Acordign to history, this movie was the brainchild of Gordon McLendon, a Texan millionaire who wanted to make movies with good Christian values and moral lessons to fight against the movies that were "corrupting" the youngsters of his time. This purpose is notorious through the film as the victims of the monster seem to be punished because of their sins, and becomes blatantly obvious when Don Sullivan sings the movie's theme.
While the movie may have failed as a Christian movie, it has gained a popularity among fans of 50s B-movies because it presents the classic elements of the Atomic Age creature-features. The primitive and simple special effects and the poorly written dialogs are really obvious flaws but the film as a whole has a certain charm due probably to the innocence of its makers and probably of the 50s as a whole.
Don Sullivan is a good lead, and also performs his songs with natural ease. Fred Graham and Lisa Simone are also quite good despite the silly dialog the movie has. Director Ray Kellogg handles the movie with the typical 50s style probably to make it appealing to mainstream audiences. The special effects are indeed poor and it is easy to notice that the Giant Gila Monster is nothing more than a normal Gila Monster walking over a cheap scale model.
To judge "The Giant Gila Monster" under the standard of our times would be a mistake, so it's better to say that the film delivers entertainment and a good glimpse to the idealized society of the 50s. People expecting a classic horror movie will definitely be disappointed, but fans of Atomic Age monsters or of B-Movie classics will find a minor gem to enjoy. 5/10
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