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Giant Gila Monster, The

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Release Date: 
Alpha Video
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Ray Kellogg
Don Sullivan
Fred Graham
Bottom Line: 

 At this point in our culture, there are two separate groups who may have seen The Giant Gila Monster; the original drive-in viewers, and those who were treated to the film at the hands of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  The latter of those two groups also got a sampling of sarcasm and humor from the MST cast.  The others probably provided exactly that on their own.
I was one of the latter group, being an avid MST fan, at least while Joel was still on the show.  The Giant Gila Monster is the perfect type of film to mock, because, with age, it comes across almost as a period piece; a snapshot of what was horror and entertainment in 1959.
The film operates on two ridiculous premises.  First, there is a lizard the size of a bus that starts killing people and wrecking cars with the opening credits.  No one’s ever seen it or even hinted at its existence, it just shows up and starts chomping teenagers and traveling salesmen on cue.  Second, this creature will be defeated by a mechanic with a heart of gold and a voice like velvet.
Chase Winston (Sullivan) is the mechanic who leads his fellow gang members with the honor of a Round Table Knight, and the manly work ethic of a first-generation immigrant trying to provide for his family.  Along the way, he romances with the beautiful French girl, lands a record deal and puts together a hot rod.  The town Sheiff (Graham) trusts Winston far enough to let him assist on the case, and his feelings prove right when Winston becomes the hero at the film’s end.
The Giant Gila Monster is 74 minutes of intermittent shots building Chase up as a hero, separated by footage of a real-life gila monster walking around a tiny landscape with over-the-top post-pro audio.  In a sentence, it’s Blue Hawaii meets Godzilla.
This film is a great watch for the following groups:
Anyone who likes to make fun of old visual tricks to create “horror”...
Anyone who likes a throaty tenor playing a ukulele...
Fans of old hot rods and nostalgic for their appearance in a sub-par horror flick...
People who hate toy cars/trains...
Wildly inebriated people about to pass out on the couch who really need a weird story the next day...
The Giant Gila Monster has had its share of appearances in other Sci-Fi and Horror films.  Other than its MST appearance, shots have also appeared in Ernest Scared Stupid, Hookers in a Haunted House, and Attack of the 50 Foot Monster Mania.

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