Movie review by www.HotRodHotLine.com
From the Producers
The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
"A small town in Texas finds itself under attack from a hungry, fifty-foot-long gila monster. No longer content to forage in the desert, the giant lizard begins chomping on motorists and train passengers before descending upon the town itself. Only Chase Winstead, a quick-thinking mechanic, can save the town from being wiped out."
Richard Parks and Roger Rohrdanz
Richard: The Giant Gila Monster, was produced by B. R. and Gordon McLendon, for Hollywood Pictures Corporation, in 1959, and directed by Ray Kellogg, with music by Jack Marshall, and songs by Don Sullivan. The cast of this black and white movie includes Don Sullivan as the hot rod hero, Lisa Simone, Shug Fisher, Jerry Cortwright, Beverly Thurman, Don Flourney and Pat Simmons. The running time is 74 minutes. It was reproduced by PC Multimedia Treasures in a DVD format.
Roger: The plot is very predictable. I assumed the setting to be a mid-western town in the ‘50’s. the story included Hot Rodders, Hot Rods, Hot Rod hangouts and Hot Rod girls, so I had to keep watching just to see if it got better. I wouldn’t be able to stay tuned if it wasn’t for the reasonably good acting. The actors were playing “period correct” rolls, they dressed correctly and the music fit the era.
Richard: The premise of the movie is that a giant Gila Monster has evolved in a heavily wooded rural area and is busy feasting on the local residents. Neither the adults nor the sheriff are really up to the task of ridding the countryside of this large reptile, which has mutated into a monster causing death and destruction. However, the local teens come to the rescue in some very fine looking hot rods. A big city deejay and emcee travels through the area and is saved from being eaten, but because he is too drunk to remember the details, the monster slithers back to the wooded undergrowth. The hero is a young local hotrodder, who is a great mechanic and an Elvis-like singer/songwriter waiting to be discovered. The monster eats more locals and even derails a train, and now the authorities can’t help but notice the problem. The local hero organizes a dance for the teens of the area and invites the big city deejay to host it. Of course, the noise, songs, rhythm and enthusiasm of the teens draws the huge reptile and mayhem explodes as the lizard tries to bash down the building to get at the morsels inside. The teen hero finds a way to save the town and defeat the giant monster.
Roger: Today we are spoiled by movie special Effects. Viewers should look at this video as a glimpse of “Special Effects” history. A window into the past, not unlike viewing old racing movies and appreciating how far we’ve come.
Richard: This is one of those typical Drive-In movie B thrillers from the 1950’s that you went to see with your girlfriend and hoped that there was more kissing and snuggling than action on the screen. By today’s standards the action is tame and no one is seen being devoured limb by bloody limb. The acting is actually better than most B movies, the songs pertinent to the era, and the plot is better than most modern Hollywood A movies. It makes a suitable gift to share with your friends on a cold night, where bench racing is more to your liking but you want to see some cool hot rods from the 1950’s. Or grab your girlfriend, the one you married, and settle down with some popcorn and sodas and pretend you are as young as you were when the two of you saw this movie in the early ‘60’s. Sometimes it’s funny where it intends to be dramatic. The reason for going to see this movie was to be with that person you dreamed about all week long in those boring high school classes, and now it’s Saturday night at the Drive-In. I rate this movie 5 spark plugs out of a scale of 8.
Roger: Call me old fashioned, but I appreciated the relationship, the common respect between the Police and Hot Rodders. Out of 8 spark plugs (8 being highest) I’d give it 4 spark plugs