Jack the Giant Killer (1962) Poster

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10/10
It scared me witless. (30 years ago)
poofta19702 October 2004
As a child there were 4 things guaranteed to scare the pants off me. The theme tune and title sequence of Tom Baker era Doctor Who, The ride in the boat in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; The snake from the Seven Faces of Dr Lao but most of all, the one thing that would make me cry and quake for hours and hours was Jack the Giant Killer. The Giant was bad enough, but then there was the deliriously camp warlock (camp things always worried me as a child Marc Bolan gave me nightmares too); the evil version of the princess with the odd eyes and then worse of all, The witches. Particularly the one with the huge mouth that blew a gushing wind all the time and the one with the three horns. I watched it recently and I can see why it effected me so. Kids today would probably laugh at it. If I had watched Pirates of the Caribbean when I was three or four years old I might have reacted in a similar way to that. I love this film, I loved it when it scared me out of my skin as a child and I still love it now.
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Just A Good Old Neat Movie
surplusboy25 October 2003
When this picture came out in '62 or '63, Mom took us 3 kids to see it at an old-style huge screened theatre. The titles of the movies(Bert I. Gordon's "The Magic Sword" was the other one) suggested to Mom that these were quaint, Disney-like fantasy films, so she figured we were safe from anything hideous. At the bursting from his elf disguise by the first monstrous giant in the movie, Mom realized she had made a boo-boo and suggested that we should seek milder entertainment. Our desperate protests put the wet blanket on poor Mom's wishes, and we sat through 2 film adventures that, to this day, are among our all-time favorites. As I understand it, this picture was produced to cash in on the tremendous success of "7th Voyage Of Sinbad", and the legal troubles that resulted from the vast similarities between the two films were the reason that the owners of the movie's rights were required to downgrade it into a ridiculous musical version. Thankfully, after years of being unavailable, the original untouched "Jack" came out on video, and it was about as much fun seeing it again as an old codger as it was as a 10-year-old.

For us "baby boomers" who started out on black-and-white TV and seeing such films as "King Kong", etc., when we were young, a stop-motion animated monster is just more scary, other-worldly, dangerous...whatever term fits an effective creature feature. Although Kerwin Matthews' many nemeses in "Jack The Giant Killer" don't quite stand alongside Ray Harryhausen's magnificent work, they still make this film well worth seeing for anyone who enjoys a good, old-fashioned mythical adventure.

Incidentally, if you have an idiotic sense of humour, the musical version is a scream to behold- especially the sequence of the evil wizard's servant returning to his master to report a failed kidnapping. :D :D

Everyone certainly has their own taste in motion pictures, but as far as this old monster movie watcher is concerned, "Jack The Giant Killer" is among the upper crust of its genre. Even after 31 years.

I'll say 8.5/10. God bless one and all...
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Little Gem
wooly_effert-122 May 2004
Recently reminded of this little gem after visiting its origins in St Michael's Mount, Cornwall. Loved this film as a kid. The attack on the ship was especially effective (I recall it being quite scary when I first saw it). The fact that there were 'scary' elements probably set it apart from the likes of the Sinbad and Jason films, and I guess this is this reason why its my favourite film of its genre and age. Admittedly the effects may look a little ropey nowadays but that doesn't get in the way of a very entertaining film. As much as I enjoyed it though, I can't help but admit that I wouldn't mind someone having a stab at a remake (this version will always be there if it goes pear shaped)
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Fabulous Visuals
cinema_universe27 May 2004
The story line is familiar and, yes, it does seem to be a hodge-podge of a variety of legends and myths, but what's to complain about? Many films borrow from a host of differing source material, often with surprisingly good results.

One very important comment about the animation-- If you're the type that poo-poo's anything less than 21st century computer generated effects, then stick to films made after 2000 and stop knocking 40-year old films because their special effects aren't the same as you saw in "Independence Day". That's like knocking a '63 Corvette because it won't take you to the Moon.

Frankly, I thought the fiery and colorful animation sequences were sort of pre-psychedelic-era psychedelia (if I may coin a phrase). I was pleasantly surprised by the almost bizarre look of it all, and felt a keen sense of having 'discovered' a lost treasure. As an avid film buff, with thousands of titles in my film library (both VHS & DVD), I'm quite aware that there are always new (to me) films to be discovered, regardless of how long ago they were made.

And-- yes, after seeing this film on cable a few months ago, I purchased the DVD for my collection. I rated this film 9- almost entirely for it's visual impact.

Highly recommended viewing.
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I saw this movie on February 18th 2004 on Showtime Beyond
brahmulus18 February 2004
I always fancied myself a connoisseur of classic sword and sorcery movies, but this gem has some how slipped by me for decades. I was very glad I caught it recently on cable. Keeping in mind its 40 plus year old release, I'd have to say this film was pretty solid. Its antiquated effects only heighten its nostalgic value and fantastic feel, but i caution you to still watch this movie with a bit of mercy and leeway.

Surprisingly, the 'demons' in the castle were rather authentic and creepy in a very contemporary sense (check them out), as well as the marching dragon men guards on the bridge, and the make up of the evil witch alter-ego of the princess (complete with way ahead of their time Micheal Jackson Thriller giant yellow demon contact lenses) all of which came off with an eerie modern vibe.

I absolutely love how there were so many unique creatures always lurking about, like the Star Wars cantina scene or a Power Rangers episode. Kudos to the relentless onslaught of evil magical spells and fantastic beasts that were constantly thrown at the heroes until the end credits rolled. If modern screenplays/films of this genre were made with such attention to monsters and battles and true fantasy action versus all the other crapola thrown in to attract non fantasy fans... we'd be in good shape... and maybe even be privy to a simple great fantasy flick that is packaged in an actual 90 minute movie (remember those?)

A non stop eclectic mixture of characters from every conceivable fantasy realm and fairyland mythos intertwine in this flick for a most interesting watch indeed. Also, plenty of fun over the top dialogue about witches and demons and dragons and little people, plus more cheesy stop animation and I Dream of Jeannie dissapearing acts than you can shake your plastic Viking sword at.

A real treat that had previously escaped me, as well as an obvious pre-cursor to the pinnacle godfather of stop motion sword and sorcery movies... Clash of the Titans... all hail.

As a fun bonus, watch for the strange (real?) almost handicapped limp of the evil wizard Pendragon, as well as what appears to be some flaws in the colorization proccess during the demon vs. ship scene.

Sure you could rip this movie to shreds and pick it a part at will, but why? Its older than your mamma and a lot more fun. So grab a beer, gather the kiddies, and sit back and enjoy... and just keep thinking to yourself how this thing screams modern REMAKE!!!
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DEFINITELY ONE OF THE BEST FILMS I HAVE EVER SEEN
02034523 December 1999
Jack The Giant Killer is a unique film in its own right. Personally, I think it is a far nicer film than The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (although I still have fond memories of that film, rest assured)and its one that I enjoy watching again and again and again. All the cast (Kerwin Matthews, Judi Meredith, Torin Thatcher, Anna-Lee, Walter Burke, Don Beddoes, et al) give fine performances and the special effects (most notably, the stop-motion animation, the cartoon-style animation) stand up well to the test of time. The story is nice and straight forward and easy to understand.

However, for me it is Judi Meredith who really made the film. The scenes where Pendragon (Torin Thatcher) uses that jewelled staff to turn her from a beautiful, kind princess into a beautiful, cold and icy witch had a real effect on me when I saw the film for the first time on BBC1 in the summer of 1976. Even more effective was when she showed Jack (Kerwin Matthews) her reflection as a wicked witch in the mirror and said "Gaze upon my true form. Am I not beautiful?" then she laughed an evil laugh! It was good that Jack managed to break the spell afterwards. On the other hand, I wish I could have seen a little more of Elaine as a witch, in this film.

I had no idea that this film was released as a musical until a few years ago. I haven't seen the musical so I cannot really comment on it. However, perhaps it's just as well as I have heard that the musical numbers are lousy. I saw the film again on Channel Four at Christmas 1997 and it was wonderful to see it again.

Jack The Giant Killer offers an enjoyable story, great action scenes, competent direction, great special effects and a professional cast. Its a must for anybody who likes fantasy films.

MATTHEW HYATT
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10/10
great stop-motion animation and a fun story makes this movie great
dsfilm12313 July 2000
If you like movies like " The 7th Voyage of Sinbad " or any George Pal film this is a must see. Stop-motion animation fans take note, there is a lot of stop-motion in this film. Jack and the princess are likeable characters as well as Peter and Sigard the viking. My favorite scene is when the puppet comes to like and slow dances with the princess. I also love the shot of the animated crow flying toward a beautiful matte painting of a castle. If you love these kinds of movies see it for sure, I bought it and still watch it plentiful to this day. Anyway that is a great flick. 10 out of 10!
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Marvellous fantasy film
filmboychris5 February 2003
This is one of the most interesting and entertaining fantasy movies ever made. Unfortunately, it is relatively unknown, (especially in the UK where it cannot be found on DVD or video, and it has never seen a release on either of these formats to my knowledge- it does however, show up every 5 years or so on Channel 4-so look out for it there.) It also seems to be compared unfavourably with "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad", which is a shame, as it surpasses this admittedly fine film in many ways. The story is typical fairy tale stuff, a poor farmers' son rescues a princess from the evil clutches of a sorceror, but it somehow transcends this simple tale and becomes something so much darker, and scarier than it's more famous rival. There is a cruel streak running through this film which is totally absent from "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad", and which makes this movie more like a horror film than a childrens fantasy.This fact was obviously picked up on by the film censors in the UK who gave it an "A" certificate (children to be accompanied by an adult) way back in 1967 when it hit the cinemas here- it was also cut by around two minutes of the more violent moments. On the down side, the monsters in "Jack" are rubbery and unconvincing- which is unfortunate, and does make some of the scenes look very fake indeed, and in this respect, the film is no match at all for the beautiful models on display in "Voyage"- but the optical colour effects when spells are cast, and especially the nightmarish blue tints during the scary witches' attack on the boat, are breathtaking and look very magical, and there is also a fabulous finale when the evil "Pendragon" turns into a dragon and fights to the death with Jack. Younger children will find this movie too frightening, even now when kids see a lot of things they should'nt. Older kids will probably find it a bit too corny for their tastes. Which only leaves nostalgic adults and the 6-10 age group left to enjoy this movies' many charms- a shame.
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7/10
It was nothing. I kill a giant every morning before breakfast. Starts my day right.
Spikeopath13 June 2010
It's the fairy tale land of Cornwall, England, and the Black Prince Pendragon (Torin Thatcher) plans to abduct Princess Elaine (Judith Meredith) so as to gain control of the land. However, his plans are at first thwarted when farmers boy Jack (Kerwin Matthews) slays the giant sent by Pendragon to claim the Princess. But Pendragon is not to be denied and a battle between good and evil commences.

There's quite a back story to this United Artists feature film. It's loosely based on the traditional tale "Jack the Giant Killer" and features the use of stop motion animation. The mere mention of stop motion automatically brings to mind the great name of Ray Harryhausen. In 1958 director Nathan Juran had helmed The 7th Voyage of Sinbad with both Matthews and Thatcher starring as the good and evil characters respectively. A big success for Columbia, Harryhausen had offered it to UA producer Edward Small who turned it down, much to his regret. So here, four years later, he gathered the same crew for what essentially is a retread of the plot of Sinbad's seventh in the hope of replicating said success. Harryhausen, however, said no, perhaps understandably, so his creatures were created for "Jack" by Project Unlimited under the watchful eye of one time Harryhausen understudy Jim Danforth. While the other effects, filmed in "Fantascope" come courtesy of Howard A. Anderson and Augie Lohman.

Columbia sued Small on the grounds of plot similarity, thus holding up the release of the film in the UK for several years (it wasn't banned as some people seem to think). Once released the film was panned by the critics and many parents were outraged that the film was too violent and scary for youngsters. Small would take this personally and intending to make something of the movie, had it re-dubbed and made into a musical. The result of which is just garbage. Thankfully the film was finally restored to its original glory on DVD and found a whole new generation of fantasy adventure fans with a bent for the lost art of stop motion animation. Kerwin Matthews passed away in 2007, a handsome swashbuckling actor, Jack The Giant Killer was his last foray into the fantasy adventure genre. It's at least comforting to know that he got to see this little treasure of a film finally get accepted by an audience.

The film itself delivers everything one expects of the genre. The creatures are effective, even if the jerkiness shows that it's not Harryhausen at the helm; tho this is off set by a wonderful sequence as electricity cloaked witch demons attack Jack's ship. There's a dashing hero, a pretty princess, a vile and chilling evil doer, hell there's even the little imp of the lamp (Don Beddoe) for some limerick shenanigans. From its delightful story book opening to its final battle between hero and villain, Jack The Giant Killer is a rich and playful fantasy. 7/10
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7/10
Delightful Matinée
claudio_carvalho1 February 2015
On the birthday of Princess Elaine (Judi Meredith), the evil warlock Pendragon (Torin Thatcher), who is exiled from the Kingdom of Cornwall, and his minion Garna (Walter Burke) come disguised to the court and he gives a gift to Elaine. During the night, his gift becomes a giant that abducts the princess. However the farmer Jack (Kerwin Mathews) vanquishes the giant and rescues Elaine. Jack becomes a knight and Elaine and he fall in love with each other. King Mark (Dayton Lummis) assigns Jack to protect Elaine and to travel by ship with his daughter posing of peasants to a distant convent where she would be safe. However Pendragon's spy Lady Constance (Anna Lee) warns the sorcerer and he sends witches to bring Elaine to his castle. They kill the captain of the ship and the crew throws Jack overboard that is left behind with the captain's son Peter (Roger Mobley) in the sea. However they are rescued by the Viking Sigurd (Barry Kelley) that shows the Leprechaun Imp (Don Beddoe) to Jack. The Imp grants three wishes to Jack and together with Jack, Peter and Sigurd, they head to the island where the castle of Pendragon is to save the princess. Will they succeed in their mission?

"Jack the Giant Killer" is one of those naive adventures that are delightful matinée. The entertaining story is full of action, magic and evil creatures. Princess Elaine is gorgeous and the hero Jack is a farmer capable of fight like the most skilled swordsman. The special affects are dated in the present days but part this is one important component of these wonderful movies from the 60's. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Jack, O Matador de Gigantes" ("Jack, The Giant Killer")
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The Most Famous Hero Who Ever To Leap From The Pages Of Adventure!
envisions22 February 2004
A well made film, that some say copied a lot from 1959's The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. Interesting, I think it's better. Kerwin Mathews was great as Jack, the farmboy-turned-giant killer. Judi Meredith was far superior than Kathryn Grant, in terms of acting and beauty. Torin Thatcher was once again evil to the core. The other cast members performed well too as their characters stood out amongst the special effects. Outstanding supporting characters included the servant Garna, played by Walter Burke and the imp in the bottle, played by Don Beddoe.

The budget for 'Jack' wasn't as big as 'Sinbad', it was about 6 to 1 in comparison. There were some impressive effects for the time. Some of them were quite clever such as Pendragon's disappearing trick done with his cape. This effect can be seen recently in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Ray Harryhausen is a tough act to follow, he was indeed the founder and master of stop motion animation. The team for 'Jack' were quite new to the craft but still managed to pull it off.

The film is available on DVD from Goodtimes Home Video and taken from the same film transfer as MGM's laserdisc version. The only difference is that the laserdisc includes the theatrical trailer. The color is awesome (Technicolor) and the sound is crystal clear. The sound effects and music that's well suited and good considering that the film was made in 1962. I have never seen the musical version, if anyone has it, let me know.

This is one of my favourite films and am proud to have my two sons enjoy it too.
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8/10
How 'Legends' Should be Told
markjellis22 May 2007
This is a fun movie with pretty much perfect casting Torin Thatcher is an excellent baddie and Judi Meredith shows wonderful subtlety moving from innocence to evil to womanhood without overplaying any of them. It's a shame the monsters were not less plastic looking. This detracts little though, especially with the animated effects, which really add magic to the picture.

That clever little leprechaun always has a rhyming saying that sums up everything, and you'll be cheering them all on at the end. Remember it is a piece of its time and you will love this movie as much as I still do.
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7/10
The Peasant Wins The Princess
bkoganbing19 May 2007
Kerwin Matthews and Torin Thatcher virtually repeat their roles in Jack the Giant Killer that they had previously done for Columbia's 7th Voyage of Sinbad four years earlier. It was no wonder that Columbia sued United Artists and producer Edward Small over this.

Even without special effects master Ray Harryhausen, the film is not bad in that department at all. For the juvenile viewers even today, they will have goosebumps over the witches, monsters, and giants that our intrepid hero Jack has to overcome.

I do like the fact that Kerwin Matthews, Torin Thatcher, and the rest of the cast play their roles with absolute sincerity. It would not have been appropriate to do it otherwise in a film meant for kids of all ages.

The plot is simple, evil prince Torin Thatcher has designs on young princess Judi Meredith and tries one scheme with a giant to capture her and spirit her away to his evil enchanted island. He and confederate Walter Burke are foiled by a brave peasant lad named Jack who slays the giant.

King Dayton Lummis makes Kerwin Matthews as Jack his daughter's protector and they have quite a few adventures before the happily ever after ending the fairy tale requires.

It's still a pretty good family film and a nice bit of nostalgia for folks like me who were kids when it did come out.
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7/10
Scariest kids movie ever. Step aside Wonka.
Zabka15 March 2002
Wow. I just caught this film on AMC. I've never seen it before, and I enjoyed every minute of it. A brave farmer saves a beautiful princess from a cloven hooved giant. As a reward he is tasked with protecting the princess as she travels to a distant convent. She is attempting to hide from the evil wizard Pendragon, but she is soon found and captured. Jack pursues her as he battles an army of the wizards minions. Jim Danforth did the creature effects, and they are well done. The former Harryhausen assistant created some really bizarre and unsettling stop-motion monsters. What is the story on those glowing demon witches? They are truly terrifying. And the freaky little goblin dressed like a rabbit from hell? Whoever decided that small children in 1963 were prepared to witness these horrors on screen were sorely mistaken. Then again, this was a whole generation after the other top freakiest kids flick, The Wizard of Oz. Fly you miserable monkeys, fly.
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8/10
An exciting, fun fantasy movie for kids and un-jaded adults
sparrowtrece10 December 2008
Count me in as another who loves this rollicking fantasy extravaganza! My folks took me to the drive-in movies to see it way back when I was a wee shorty, and oh my gosh! was I ever excited and thrilled. I played Jack for months afterward, slashing up all sorts of bushes that stood in for giants and dragons and devils with my lathe-wood sword. The scene with the eerie glowing witches and demons ranks right up there with some of the Wicked Witch's star turns in *The Wizard Of Oz* as one of childhood's most delectably terrifying cinematic moments.

While the SFX are sort of goofy-looking by today's standards, that's not a drawback for kids seeing the movie, and grownups who can get past their expectations of CGI-level realism should be able to appreciate them as well.

I saw it once as an adult and was surprised to realize how many images and moments of dialog had stuck in my mind ever since. I'd love to see it again soon.
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More than just a rip-off
Richard Kimble12 March 1999
Often thought of as a rip-off of 7th Voyage of Sinbad, the film is much more. Yes it uses the same director and stars, but the film has a charm of its own. The monsters are well animated, although the models themselves do look like models. The final sequence, where Pendragon changes into a harpie and attacks the hero and heroine contains some of the best animation of a flying creature in all of film history, including an overhead shot aerial view that must be seen to be believed. And any film that uses such great character actors as Don Beddoe, Walter Burke and Dayton Lummis can't be all bad. Just avoid the dubbed musical version, for which long ago kiddie host Paul Tripp should be ashamed. The "songs" are merely the original dialogue put to music. Maybe next Paul will turn Wizard of Oz into an all-dialogue movie.
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9/10
Childhood favorite, trampled by the net.
BigGiantEyeball24 February 2013
This was the first movie I ever saw at a drive-in in '62. It completely transported me to a realm of story book fantasy, and upon finding a VHS of it several years ago, I found it still carried it's old magic.

Moderns may not be able to see past it's dated special FX, but I find moderns to be desperately self-centered and shallow. I recently asked a 26yr old lady if she liked the Marx Brothers, and she whined, "I was only born in 1984!", as if anything before that date was irrelevant.

This brings me to my real motive for writing this review. Upon seeing that "Jack The Giant Slayer" was being released, I was prompted to see how the "Killer" movie was regarded on the net. I searched "Jack The Giant Killer" on Google, and found it listed buried in "Slayer" hype. The exact wording of my search was discarded by Google as irrelevant to some aspect of advertising or modernity that assumed it knew better than I what it was I was looking for. Even the IMDb listing for "Killer" was below the IMDb file for "Slayer".

It makes me wonder what else is being shunted aside as students and researchers go about their business on the net.

Don't tell me it's my business to decode Google's ignoring of the exact spelling of a search. There are subjects I look up that I am so ignorant of that I would never know what I have missed due to Google's arbitrary search results, especially if my search terms are somewhat ambiguous.

All that aside, I hope that anyone seeing this can feel a bit of the magic that made this such a special movie for me at the age of 8, and again at 50.
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A game of two halves
neil-47623 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
On the surface you would think that this movie has it made - a fantasy with many of the ingredients which made The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad so successful - star Kerwin Matthews, baddie Torin Thatcher, director Nathan Juran, and stop motion creatures. And, in truth, it is an engaging tale in which the stars and director do their jobs perfectly well.

There is, however, one fatal flaw (well, two, if you count the absence of a score from Bernard Herrman), and that is the stop motion animation. The animation itself - early work by Jim Danforth, whose animation tended to be more naturalistic and less performance-oriented than ray Harryhausen's - is fine. But the creatures themselves suffer badly from being underbudgeted, and there is a coarseness of finish which makes them look, frankly, shoddy. Plus the compositing looks dreadfully grainy.

If you can see past these quality elements, then this film is worth a watch.
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9/10
Charming, underrated film with phenomenal visuals
TheLittleSongbird16 November 2009
If you forgive the fact the film is perhaps too short, this is a very charming, underrated and delightful film. What really made the movie were the visuals. They were absolutely phenomenal, and looked as though the effects co coordinator had gone to extreme lengths to make the whole production presentable. As far as the look of the film goes, it looks amazing, with the lavish costumes, stunning cinematography and colourful sets. True it isn't as high a budget as Sinbad, but it still looked great. I will admit I am still scared of the witches, god they are so freaky. Aside from the visuals, other things made this film a delight to watch. The story is well told and is true in style to the story while putting its own spin on it. The script is nicely constructed too, and the music is also outstanding. The performances were very good indeed. Kerwin Matthews is a very likable lead, and Judi Meredith makes for a stunning Princess Elaine. Pendragon was a great almost scary villain and Torin Thatcher(back with Matthews after the wonderful 7th Voyage of Sinbad) played him marvellously. All in all, a delightful film and worth the look. Shame it is isn't shown on TV much, and I can't find it anywhere. That is a shame really, because it is a good movie. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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8/10
A delightful fantasy adventure treat
Woodyanders10 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Brave, noble, resourceful farmboy turned knight Jack (well played with dashing aplomb by Kerwin Mathews) has to rescue fair damsel Princess Elaine (a charming performance by the lovely Judi Meredith) from the vile clutches of powerful evil sorcerer Pendragon (essayed with marvelously sinister brio by Torin Thatcher) and his creepy, whimpering henchman Garna (a perfectly detestable Walter Burke). Assisting Jack on his bold quest are eager young boy Peter (likable Roger Mobley), hearty, scruffy Viking Sigurd (the solid Barry Kelley), and cheerful, helpful leprechaun Diablotin the Imp (a winningly warm and witty portrayal by Don Beddoe). Director Nathan Juran, who co-wrote the smart script with Orville H. Hampton, handles the fanciful subject matter with admirable conviction and seriousness, relates the absorbing story at a steady pace, and stages the action scenes with considerable rip-roaring panache. The stop-motion animation creatures are quite colorful and enjoyable; they include a dancing little doll man, a huge nasty giant, a vicious two-headed beast, a gnarly sea lizard, and a flying harpy. Plus we also have a bunch of strikingly grotesque witches. Better still, there's a real sweet innocence and good-natured quality to this movie that's both refreshing and engaging in equal measure. David S. Horsley's crisp cinematography, a robust, rousing score by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter, and the endearing characters all add immensely to the overall irresistible appeal of this hugely entertaining little gem.
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Brothers Grimm meet the Brothers Coen
The Fuzz9 June 2001
It's such a shame that the stop-motion here is so slap-dash because the film as a whole is splendidly imagined. I can't think of any other which comes so close to emulating the vicious, merciless, no-holds-barred fantasy of the best fairy tales. The production is handsome, the cast plays it straight and Juran clearly wasn't worried about giving his target audience the screaming ab-dabs; what a pity he couldn't recruit Ray Harryhausen to do the job properly.
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7/10
Fun fantasy storytelling - avoid musical version!
jckruize19 September 2001
A poor cousin to Harryhausen's more polished adventures, this film nevertheless boasts a high fun quotient for stop-motion aficionados. Jim Danforth's skillful animation is unfortunately undercut by very poor puppets, which were built outside his supervision and control. The first stop-motion sequence is the best, with the dancing dwarf from the Princess' music box growing into a giant, then absconding with her. I liked the clever way Jack coped with this monster, using his wits and materials at hand: strangling him with a rope bound to the millhouse wheel. Nice touch when the ogre's hand gets crushed by the millstone. Saw it as a kid of 7 or so originally, and it scared me pretty good. Good acting by "7th Voyage of Sinbad" veterans Kerwin Matthews, as the hero Jack, and Torin Thatcher as the evil mage Pendragon.
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10/10
Superb visual fantasy spectacular
classicfilmman29 March 2006
Wonderful, eye popping visual fantasy, with vivid special effects, colour and lively, nightmarish villains, set in medieval Cornwall at the time of giant folklore. One would be sure that the great Ray Harryhausen was involved somewhere along the line, especially as it features regular Ray alumni Nathan Juran, Kerwin Matthews and Torin Thatcher amongst its production personnel. Some young children may be rather frightened of some of the demonic characters and transformation sequences. A Region 2 special edition release of this forgotten gem is long overdue. One of the last great, family visual spectacular films of its kind.
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6/10
Fun kiddie flick, but only for the kiddies
xredgarnetx22 July 2007
I saw JACK when it debuted in the theater, and have watched it several times over the ensuing years. I even have a copy of the bizarre musical version, released a few years after the original. JACK is a great movie for the little ones, full of wizards and dragons and two-headed beasties. Hell, director Nathan Juran even throws in a leprechaun, a Viking and a reference to the Egyptian deity Isis! The movie is a merry mix of various legends and fairy tales and folk tales. The sometimes shaky special effects were done by Jim Danforth, a graduate of the Ray Harryhausen school of animation. Danforth went on to greater fame as the special effects director for the original OUTER LIMITS TV show. A couple of historical notes: United Artists hired the director and male stars of Columbia's SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, which had special effects by Harryhausen, but honestly to little avail from an adult's perspective. JACK is not a movie for adults, even young adults. It is much too creaky and badly acted, and the special effects are not to be endured by anyone above the age of puberty. I enjoyed JACK as a kid and enjoy it now as a historical relic. Especially that bizarre musical adaptation, in which UA simply added several songs to the original film and re-released it! Oh, and the reason why chief villain Torin Thatcher limps: He lost a leg during one of the world wars, as I recall. That's why he does so little moving about. But he was always a great villain, even standing still.
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