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 chopming 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.
Directed by: Ray Kellogg
. Starring: Don Sullivan
, Fred Graham
, Lisa Simone
, Shug Fisher
, Bob Thompson
, Janice Stone
, Ken Knox
, Gay McLendon
, Don Flournoy
, Cecil Hunt
, Stormy Meadows
, Howard Ware
, Pat Reeves
. Music by: Jack Marshall
Unlike most of the small studio or independent monster movies of the 1950s revival period, "The Giant Gila Monster" actually has a cast of people who can act. The players in this film seem quite natural, and the script has some continuity of action to keep it going. The weakest thing about this one is the monster, and filming it. A little more filming with scale would have added a sense of reality for the monster. Unfortunately, the models with the enlarged scenes of a lizard close-up just don't achieve the effect. But, the story was just interesting enough, and the acting not laughable, that one could stay with this movie to the end. With more attention to the giant lizard, and some action, this film could have rated six stars.
With the revived interest in monster movies in the 1950s, many small film companies got in the act. This seemed a quick way to make money. Monster films didn't have to have deep scripts or well-known casts. They could be done on the cheap. All that was needed was a creature just big enough, ugly enough or scary enough to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. That may be how some of the small producers thought, judging from the large number of monster horror flicks that came out around that time. Unfortunately, most were throwaways. If not hilarious in places because of the poor design of the monster, the scripts and acting were so bad that they were barely watchable.
I doubt that many of those films made anyone rich from the box office. Indeed, but for early TV late nights runs of old movies, most people likely never would have seen or known about the vast majority of films in the class of monster movies. The TV horror show craze of the 1960s through 1970s, with local station TV stations and hosts, brought horror and monster flicks to larger audiences than most ever had in theaters.
And, the best movies of the genre generally had something more than just a scary monster. They had scripts at least good enough to hold one's interest and build the suspense. Most had considerable action with the monster. Most also had casts of people who could act. And the major studios that put out such films also put work into the monsters and special effects to make them appear more real.
Thus, some monster films will survive long into the future, while the vast majority are soon forgotten. From the 1950s monster movie revival period, we have a few gems. "The Blob" of 1958 was Steve McQueen's first leading role in films. It's not one of the best of that period, but it has a long-held reputation among moviegoers of that time, as being one of the best "date" movies ever. That's mostly because of a scene in which the monster, the Blob, oozes through the vents in a movie theater in the film. Naturally, we looked around in the theater we were in watching that film, and the girls huddled a little closer to the guys. One of the best monster flicks of the 1950s was "Them" of 1954 by Warner Brothers. It starred with James Whitmore and Edmund Gwenn and earned an Academy Award nomination. "The Creature of the Black Lagoon" was made by Universal and starred Richard Carlson. "Tarantula" of 1955 was another Universal film, with John Agar and Leo G. Carroll. Columbia Pictures made "Curse of the Demon" in 1957, with Dana Andrews; and then made "The Tingler" in 1959 that starred Vincent Price and Darryl Hickman. "The Fly" came out in 1958, made by 20th Century Fox, and starring Vincent Price. The Japanese joined the monster movie craze, making "Godzilla" in 1954, and then "Rodan" in 1956. And a classic British entry was "The Mummy" of 1959 that starred Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. It was another version of the original 1932 "Mummy," by Universal that starred Boris Karloff.
The monster movie genre makes a comeback every generation or two. Some of the scariest of the genre came later. Who could ever forget "Jaws" of 1975? Was there ever a more grotesque, frightening monster than in "Alien" of 1979?
Review by SimonJack from the Internet Movie Database.