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The Giant Gila Monster (1959) Review

by Yo Adrian on June 03rd, 2019 | | ,

The Giant Gila Monster was directed by Ray Kellogg (who also directed The Killer Shrews) and stars Don Sullivan (from Teenage Zombies), Fred Graham and Lisa Simone. It’s about (spoiler alert) a giant Gila monster who chases people around a small Texas town.

The Giant Gila Monster Review

I live in Arizona and have always been warned to stay away from Gila monsters due to their bite and their venom. Venom is venom, it hurts like hell and everyone knows to avoid it. Its their bite that’s the scary part. Unlike snakes who deliver their venom with a quick strike, sending venom into your blood through hollow syringe style fangs, Gila monsters clamp down on you and hold on for up to 15 minutes! They do this because their venom glands are in their bottom jaw so they literally have to gnaw on you to draw venom out of their glands, over their teeth, and into your blood. And the worst thing you can do is lift them off the ground or try to pull or shake them off, they’ll only clamp down harder. You really just have to let them finish.

So yeah, nightmare fuel that’s perfect for a creature feature.

The Giant Gila Monster is a drive-in classic from the late 50’s that features the notorious Gila, only this one is 70 feet long. It slowly walks around a dusty small town in Texas and eats the locals. The funny part about this movie is its use of a real lizard (it’s not actually a Gila, but close). It’s a real lizard. This means it’s slow and very non-threatening. It doesn’t run, roar or even retreat when attacked. It just kinda stands around looking very calm. When it attacks the camera just shows an ultra close up shot of a very fake looking claw and then cuts to a car rolling over or something. It’s comedy.

And the miniatures. The miniatures! Most of the movie makes the lizard look giant by just zooming in super close. But near the end the lizard has to derail a train, destroy some cars and bust into a barn (where a swingin’ 50’s dance party is taking place). To accomplish this they just throw some toy trains and cars onto a table and roll the camera. The lizard doesn’t break anything though, it’s a real lizard after all, so they just cut to a shot of the toy train rolling down a hill even though the lizard wasn’t even near. And it just kinda slowly walks around the cars. But… this is what gives it it’s timeless appeal.

There’s also a ton of custom hot rods in this movie for some reason. Everyone’s always blasting through gears while driving around this small town. Even the cops use hot rods to get to crime scenes, it’s bizarre, but pretty cool at the same time.

Needless to say, the entertainment value is high despite the quality being seriously low.

Worth Watching?

If you like old cheesy classics, definitely. Most definitely. You can watch the full movie below.



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