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The Giant Gila Monster

USA 1959
produced by
Ken Curtis, B.R. McLendon (executive), Gordon McLendon (executive) for Hollywood Pictures
directed by Ray Kellogg
starring Don Sullivan, Fred Graham, Lisa Simone, Shug Fisher, Bob Thompson, Janice Stone, Ken Knox, Gay McLendon, Don Flournoy, Cecil Hunt, Stormy Meadows, Howard Ware, Pat Reeves, Jan McLendon, Jerry Cortwright, Beverly Thurman, Clarke Brown, Grady Vaughn, Yolanda Salas, Desmond Doogh
screenplay by Jay Simms, based on a story by Ray Kellogg, music by Jack Marshall, Don Sullivan (songs), special effects by Ralph Hammeras, Wee Risser, cinematography by Wilfred M.Cline

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Smalltown, USA: When 19-year old Pat Wheeler (Grady Vaughn) and his sweetheart Liz (Yolanda Salas) go missing, at first nobody thinks much about it, as it is quite possible they just eloped. Only Pat's father, rich man Wheeler (Bob Thompson) is furious, and he seems to be more furious about the fact that his som might have married not as high up the social ladder as him than he is worried about the fact that something might have happened to his son.

... and something happen it did, as his car was thrown off the road by a giant gila (about the size of a bus or something), which then (supposedly) ate the teenagers.

The local Sheriff (Fred Graham) investigates together with garage worker Chase (Don Sullivan), who is also the very responsible leader of a gang of hot rodders Pat and Liz belonged to. But at first, the Sheriff and Chase can come up with very little, only some cars thrown off the road witht he drivers missing - just like Pat and Liz.

It's only eventually, when Harris (Shug Fisher), an old drunk, witnesses the giant gila wrecking a train bridge (complete with ensuing trainwreck), that Chase and the Sheriff even begin to suspect a giant gila monster. But it's not until the gila monster crashes one of the youngsters' parties - where Chase is performing a song - that they have actual proof of the existence of such a creature ... but no idea yet of how to get rid of it - until Chase remembers a few cans of nitroglycerine his boss (Cecil Hunt) keeps in his storage shack, loads them into his car and steering his car into the direction of the gila, himself jumping off seconds before impact ... and boom goes the gila !

The film also contains a few cubplots, one concerning Chase caring for his sick little siser (Janice Stone), another about Chase's French girlfriend Lisa (Lisa Simone), who is also a maid at Mr Wheeler's place, who just can't stand the guts of Chase, and then there's Chase meeting a discjockey (Ken Knox), who gives him the opportunity to record his first record.

 

So-so 1950's drive-in fare, with too many subplots distracting from the main attraction, which should read hot-rodders vs reptiles ... but somehow that promise never fully materializes and so more time is spent with a too-good-to-be-true but misunderstood youngster and his various good deeds, with the giant gila monster - a regular sized gila that doesn't seem terribly giant in most of the shots - basically only lurking around until towards the end when it crashes the train and the kids' party - and then it's blown up soon enough.

Now don't get me wrong, you might still like this one if you like 1950's monster drieve-in movies, but even in this genre there's much better - and funnier - around.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD