Model A? More Like Model Z

Rather than blame rock ‘n roll-listening, poodle skirt-wearing, hot rod driving teens for the world’s trouble, Giant Gila Monster chooses to embrace the baby boom generation. That’s a surefire way to get them into theaters – treating them as equal members of society rather than a burden on adults.

Once they arrive to see Giant Gila Monster though, those same kids probably won’t stay long. It’s a z-grade slog, with a monster that isn’t as advertised, ineffective miniatures, and clumsy plot that’s devoid of even baseline logic. After the fourth mysterious car crash (each with disappearing victims), it’s a wonder why no one phones the military. But, this is Texas. They’ll do it their own way.

Giant Gila Monster at least tries to relay a portion of the era’s changing culture

Adults in Giant Gila Monster spend much of their time casually driving drunk, turning the supposedly responsible ones into a menace rather than the kids and their cars. The monster seems like less a threat compared to the rampant alcoholism.

To its credit, the script does punch itself up with character depth, even if it goes nowhere other than to give star Don Sullivan a chance to sing, killing time. He has a disabled daughter and spends what he can to maker her life easier, making him Giant Gila Monster’s most responsible party. Certainly the local sheriff’s pitiful detective work won’t earn him that designation.

Made on a budget that falls into the “less than shoestring” category, Giant Gila Monster gains prominence via circumstance, released at a time when producers were willingly exploiting the monster boom for every possible dollar. Compared to the litany of no-budget crud like say, Phantom from 10,000 Leagues, Giant Gila Monster at least tries to relay a portion of the era’s changing culture. While clearly written by adults trying to sound like teens, the easy, charming dialog offers an easy in to this small town, where everyone knows each other in some way.

The least interesting thing in this movie is the creature, played by an unwilling beaded lizard, not a gila monster. Walking through stray sticks meant to be trees and knocking over a cheap wooden bridge to crash a model train, there’s zero technical wizardry to take notice of. Being fair, Giant Gila Monster couldn’t better itself through visual effects anyway. If anything, the paltry production pairs well to the equally flat storyline to create a classic of ‘50s era schlock.

Video

An absolute gem of a fresh master for a movie that – at home – never looked better than VHS dupe, Giant Gila Monster finally looks its best. Remarkably without a lick of damage, the image maintains its purity, complete with a clean, resolved grain structure. The source’s budgetary limitations don’t limit the film stock’s texture or detail; it’s crisp, reasonably sharp, and naturally defined. Plus, it’s a stable image minus any shaky gate weave (with one brief exception).

Gray scale doesn’t fall into the purest blacks, but there’s enough contrast and clean gradients to deliver some depth. Giant Gila Monster runs a little flat overall. Contrast is sustained without clipping.

Audio

DTS-HD mono produces startling clarity, especially in the dialog that barely sounds aged a few weeks let alone half a century. Even the music sports extensive clarity, and doubly so when considering the production era/budget.

Extras

In addition to offering both theatrical and TV aspect ratios, Film Masters includes a commentary from the Monster Party Podcast crew, an interview with star Don Sullivan, and an excellent booklet inside the case.

The Giant Gila Monster
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
2

Movie

Clumsy, cheap, and awkwardly charming, The Giant Gila Monster is the best kind of chintzy mess.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 27 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:


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