It is in these lonely areas of the impenetrable forest and dark shadows that the Gila Monster still lives!– Narrator
Day 3 of the Fright Festival and I decided to treat myself to something terrible – The Giant Gila Monster. This 1959 B-Movie classic is seventy-five minutes of genial mediocrity and I can’t help but feel some affection for it.
That’s mostly down to the cast, I think. Fred Graham as the sheriff is that rarest of beasts – a likeable authority figure in a monster movie; more, Graham’s Sheriff Jeff is competent and quick to accept the reality of the eponymous monster’s existence. Don Sullivan as clean-cut, all-American hero Chase Winstead is impossible not to like as he helps the sheriff in his investigation.
The monster is played by a real lizard – a Mexican beaded lizard, to be exact – and while the creature appears to have no idea what’s going on, that only adds to the fun. Its puzzled looks as it stomps a model flat really sell the idea that this is no monster, but merely a confused animal. A thing to be pitied, rather than feared.
Despite the monster stomping around knocking over trains and eating hitchhikers, there’s a distinct lack of tension in the film. It meanders towards its explosive conclusion without any real hurry, and when it gets there, its over and done so quickly you’d be forgiven for missing it.
That aside, it’s a cosy little film, and not a bad way to spend an hour and some change on a Sunday afternoon. I watched the film as part of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, which added to the enjoyment some for me, though your mileage may vary.
Three films down, twenty-eight to go.