The Giant Gila Monster / The Killer Shrews 1999 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
IN A NUTSHELL: 2 DRIVE-IN CLASSICS WHICH PLAYED TOGETHER IN 1959
—> 1st Feature: ‘The Killer Shrews’ Directed by Ray Kellogg, 1959
—->HOW DO YOU RATE A BAD MOVIE THAT ENTERTAINS?
This movie somehow is terribly entertaining and I am not sure why. It does have monsters, mandatory in all epic B creature features, but what kind of monsters? Yes, special monsters! Giant killer shrews which are actually cute jumping puppies with silly rug-like rat suits. A best editing Oscar might have been won if anyone saw the movie when it was originally released, just for the way the scenes were cut just as the RAT PUPPIES were about to show their cute jumping puppy traits. Yes, if you watch the film closely you can actually see when these playful pups are about to show their true colors and betray their employers by jumping, licking and rolling over. Many an adult has enjoyed this seemingly forgettable flick enough to purchase it on DVD [after they wore out the VHS edition just like me]. What gives? Well, it can’t be the plot. We can only be grateful to the filmmakers for not blaming atomic energy for this 1959 disaster, but would you believe that these mutant giant rats were part of a project to save the world from overpopulation? No, they were not supposed to eat the world’s surplus people. You’ll have to watch this epic to discover their true purpose. Warning, watching this terrible film can be contagious and habit forming. As a bonus, you can often find this classic on DVD mated to one of several promising epics of the same era. “The Giant Gila Monster” and “The Crawling Eye” are just the two I know about. I have a feeling there are more but you can’t miss with either of these.
—> 2nd Feature: The Giant Gila Monster, Directed by Ray Kellogg, 1959
—-> ONE CAN’T HELP THINKING OF THE BLOB WHEN WATCHING THIS CREATURE FEATURE
Like the ‘Killer Shrews’, ‘The Gila Monster’ takes itself seriously—dead seriously. Watching this film makes my mouth water for an audience to lampoon this charming 50s creature-feature for, but that is just part of the fun. You see, this film approaches its subject with the same gothic intensity that the original ‘Outer Limits’ did in 1963-1964. The film opens with a missing couple, presumed to be eloping, but we all know otherwise. Gradually, the County Sheriff begans to notice the same pattern that the audience had, only a bit slower. People are disappearing and in increasing numbers. Since most of the adults are drunk in this film, especially the witnesses, it is up to the teenagers to assist the Sheriff in bringing this big lizard to justice.
Okay, so it’s a bit corny and cliche, probably even when it played to drive-in crowds in 1959: small crowds, but crowds to be sure. It is played in earnest and the tension does build. Unlike the first feature, this film seems a bit drawn out, perhaps to be long enough to play for European audiences looking for new eclectic American productions—perhaps not. Anyway, it seems as though this would have made a neat ‘Outer Limits’ episode if it had been tightened-up at bit with editing. Maybe a couple of country tunes could have been omitted, or maybe the serenade was important for the atmosphere of the film—in any event it seemed too long for a very short film. Maybe we could have seen more of the Gila Monster, which Ray Kellogg, a Special Effects A-List veteran, expanded from a 2 foot reptile into a 50-80 foot long behemoth rather convincingly. All the scenes showing the monster were miniatures, but a full-scale set was made to make the transition from mini-monster to actual set with people pretty real looking for a low-budget thriller. Of course we don’t see people and the Gila Monster in the same frame. For that kind of magic in 1959, you’d need Ray Harryhausen and about 3 years of his time. The film does start with a bang and then gradually builds suspense to a Nitro charged conclusion which is after all, all we want from a Drive-In thriller. From that standpoint ‘The Giant Gila Monster’ delivers as advertised, “ONLY HELL COULD BREED THE GIANT GILA MONSTER”!
BOTTOM LINE: BOTH FILMS ARE GOOD CLEAN FUN—NO BLOOD - GORE - NUDITY or PROFANITY
About The Giant Gila Monster / The Killer Shrews (1999)
Starring: James Best, Ingrid Goude, Don Sullivan, Fred Graham, Lisa Simone,
Runtime: 127 minutes
Director: Ray Kellogg,
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