04/24/2014  
One Direction: Reaching for the Stars Part 2 - The Next Chapter on DVD/VOD May 13Shelter Island on DVD May 13Pennsylvania Ballet at 50 on DVD May 13Flying Tigers & Home of the Brave on Blu-ray & DVD May 13Stalingrad on Two-Disc Blu-ray with 3D, DVD & Digital May 13The Dave Clark Five And Beyond: Glad All Over on DVD & Blu-ray May 13Longmire: Season 2 on DVD May 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

'The Voice' Recap: Bottom Three Plead for Viewers' Save...
Stephen Colbert visits David Letterman and new 'Late Sh...
Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o named People's most beautif...
One Direction: Reaching for the Stars Part 2 - The Next...
Shelter Island on DVD May 13...

JB Joseph Burke

The Answer to American Idol's Problems Is......
CONCRETE BLONDES...
CREAM FAREWELL CONCERT...
JACK REACHER...
MANBORG...

CA Chuck Aliaga

CORRUPTION (BLU-RAY)...
THE ATTACK (BLU-RAY)...
TANK GIRL (BLU-RAY)...
HORROR STORIES...
THE UNINVITED (BLU-RAY)...

RR Rich Rosell

THE GIRL...
THE HORDE...
LIFE IS SWEET (BLU-RAY)...
SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (BLU-RAY/DVD COMBO)...
THE BLUE ANGEL (BLU-RAY)...

MZ Mark Zimmer

BABY PEGGY: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM...
STORAGE WARS: VOLUME THREE...
Take Part in a Film Restoration...
THE 39 STEPS (BLU-RAY)...
DARK SHADOWS: THE BEST OF BARNABAS...

JS Jesse Shanks

2 BROKE GIRLS...
DOWNTON ABBEY SEASONS ONE & TWO LIMITED EDITION...
FLORENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF THE RENAISSANCE...
NAZI COLLABORATORS...
KATT WILLIAMS: KATTPACALYPSE...

RJ Ross Johnson

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (BLU-RAY)...
PURPLE NOON (BLU-RAY)...
WEEKEND (BLU-RAY)...
JUAN OF THE DEAD...
THE DEVIL'S NEEDLE AND OTHER TALES OF VICE AND REDEMPTI...

JD Jon Danziger

SUNSET BOULEVARD...
SALO, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM...
TABLOID...
CUL-DE-SAC...
3 WOMEN...

JC Joel Cunningham

YOJIMBO/SANJURO...
SUMMER HOURS (L'heure d'ÈtÈ)...
WIZARD OF OZ...
WINGS OF DESIRE...
HORTON HEARS A WHO!...

DH Dan Heaton

REVANCHE...
LAST DAYS OF DISCO...
NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS...
STARGATE SG-1: CHILDREN OF THE GODS...
STARGATE ATLANTIS: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON...

MS Matt Serafini

THE STEPFATHER...
THE HILLS RUN RED...
MANAGEMENT...
NIGHT OF DEATH...
GNAW...

KC Kevin Clemons

Freddy Got Fingered...

JU Jeff Ulmer

Secure The Second Season of The Border on DVD August 25...
THE WALTONS: THE COMPLETE 9TH SEASON...
Dance Me Outside kicks onto DVD May 6, 2008...

DD Dale Dobson

Film-Fest 4: Sundance 2000 & Hawaii...

RM Robert Mandel

Saving Private Ryan...

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Image Entertainment presents
The Giant Gila Monster (1959)

"It is in these lonely areas of impenetrable forests and dark shadows that the gila monster still lives. How large the dreaded gila monster grows no man can say."
- Narrator

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: September 01, 2002

Stars: Don Sullivan, Lisa Simone, Fred Graham
Other Stars: Yolanda Salas, Shug Fisher, Jerry Cartwright, Beverly Thurman
Director: Ray Kellogg

Manufacturer: Ritek
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (minor giant gila monster violence)
Run Time: 01h:14m:37s
Release Date: August 13, 2002
UPC: 014381976526
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ BB-B- C+

DVD Review

Just by the sake of its very name, the Gila monster seemed all but destined to become a horror star. How could anything named "monster" not eventually star in its own film, especially in the 1950s? The fact that the Gila monster, in reality, is one of only two species of venomous lizards, certainly didn't hurt either. This 1959 classic from director Ray Kellogg (The Green Berets) doesn't beat around the bush, or bother with vagueness, but implies rather directly, via the title, what the film is all about: The Giant Gila Monster. As Stan Lee would say: "'Nuff said."

Released the same year as Kellogg's other equally infamous mutant animal flick, The Killer Shrews, The Giant Gila Monster was, and still is, pure 1950s drive-in camp. For reasons that are never truly explained in the script (except for a passing comment about out-of-control pituitary glands), a bus-sized gila monster suddenly begins terrorizing a rural Texas town. A laid-back sheriff (Fred Graham) has to rely on a spiffy, clean-cut group of law-abiding hot-rodders, led by Chase (Don Sullivan), to save the day.

The shots of the title creature are your basic real-lizard-walking-through-miniatures variety, and those constitute the bulk of the Gila's onscreen antics. It lumbers slowly across tiny twigs and rocks, moving out in the open with the speed of an oversized snail. Kellogg does spice it up by including an unintentionally funny toy train crash, with the big lizard shuffling over the wreckage, as well as the film's signature shot of the beast thrusting his head through a barn wall during the big sock-hop scene.

Sullivan's Chase, adorned with cute French exchange student girlfriend Lisa (Lisa Simone), is a not just a squeaky clean mechanic, he's a singer, too. He is a typical 1950s teen hero, and Kellogg features a couple of opportunities for his star to croon some goofy ditties, most notably the Laugh, Children, Laugh song that he sings to his polio-stricken little sister. A chance meeting with big-time DJ Horatio Alger 'Steamroller' Smith (Ken Knox), whom he inadvertently saves from becoming Gila chow, guarantees the chance for Chase to belt out another tune or two before the credits roll.

I loved this film as a kid (though for different reasons than I do today), and it still retains some degree of campy innocence that plays like cinematic drive-in nostalgia for me. Of Kellogg's two forays into big beasts, I prefer The Killer Shrews (those things just seemed more savage and threatening than a waddling, speckled lizard), though The Giant Gila Monster does have some kind of weird charm to it.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: I seriously doubt that there is a pristine print of The Giant Gila Monster anywhere in the world, so the flaws in this 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen can be accepted a little easier. There are plenty of nicks, specks and scratches, and that alone would normally earn a disc like this a C+ rating, despite it's age. Aside from the print defects, though, the black & white image quality itself is reproduced cleanly, and displays well-balanced contrast. The fact that Image has issued Kellogg's film in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen instantly bumps it up to a B-.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The film's original mono track sounds pretty good here, with just some minor hiss at times. Dialogue is consistently clear, and those cornball Don Sullivan songs come across just fine, too.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Images Journal Essay
Extras Review: Other than a theatrical trailer, the only additional extra is onscreen text of Cindy Hendershot's article Monster at the Soda Shop: Teenagers and Fifties Horror Films, which originally appeared at www.imagesjournal.com. Hendershot's piece isn't limited just to The Giant Gila Monster, and she examines (somewhat seriously) the presence of teen culture in American horror and sci-fi films of the era. Her article is an interesting read, though I suspect she might be over analyzing the perceived symbolism a bit.

The disc is split into 12 chapters, and features no subtitles. The front and back cover art has colorized images, but rest assured that this is the original black & white film print.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Fans of giant animal horror films will no doubt be pleased with Image's 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen release of Ray Kellogg's drive-in classic The Giant Gila Monster; it was great to see this in it's original aspect ratio. This is an undeniably silly 1950s monster movie, but darn it, I still like it for what it is.

For what it's worth, though, I HATE the colorized images on the front and back cover of this disc.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 





Covered California

Keywords

television, the voice, vocal competition, carson daly, twitter, usher, t.j. wilkins, shakira, tess boyer, dani moz, late show, david letterman, stephen colbert, cbs, comedy central, the colbert report, celebrity, lupita nyong'o, people mangazine, academy award, 12 years a slave, steve mcqueen, biography, documentary, box office, movies, good morning america, abc, lara spencer, josh elliot, nbc sports, george stephanopolous, robin roberts, movie, heaven is for real, connor corum, greg kinnear, thomas haden, books, gabriel garcia marquez, nobel laureate, one hundred years of solitude, war, cannes film festival, grace of monaco, nicole kidman, kristen stewart, robert pattinson, maps to the stars, julianne moore, foxcatcher, the homesman, tommy lee jones, hilary swank, mrs. doubtfire, robin williams, fox 2000, chris columbus, david berenhaum, drama, brad pitt, general stanley mcchrystal, the operators, afghanistan war film, david michod, gone girl gillian flynn, ben affleck, rosamund pike, elvis costello, she, nine inch nails, trent reznor, atticus ross, gone girl's score, ultimate warrior, james hellwig, wrestler, heart disease, world wrestling entertainment hall of fame, animation, hbo, game of thrones, jack gleeson, king joffrey baratheon, the purple wedding, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, shailene wookley, veronica roth, allegiant, divergent, insurgent, the croods, nicolas cage, joe, david gordon green, tye sheridan

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too
Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact