Jack the Giant Killer (1962)
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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...
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.
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!!!
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.
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
"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")
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.