Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: The Giant Gila Monster/The Killer Shrews

With Halloween coming up, it seems appropriate to look at a couple of monster movies.  Back in 2004, I posted the following:

A few weeks ago at Half Price Books I bought a boxed set of 50 "Horror Classics" on DVD.  Most of these are hardly classics, but that's all right.  Tonight we watched "The Giant Gila Monster", just your basic hot rods/rock & roll/giant lizard movie.  I don't recall ever seeing it before.  Cheaply made, with mostly bad acting and a goofy script, but pretty darned enjoyable anyway.  You probably had to be there in the Fifties to really appreciate it, though.  I was a little kid then, but I still remember the era fairly well. 

In the comments on that post, Bill Crider asked me if that DVD set included THE KILLER SHREWS.  The answer is, yes, it did, and we watched it, too.  It has its own bizarre charms, mainly the sight of little dogs with carpet fastened to their backs playing the part of the Killer Shrews.  This movie features one of my all-time favorite character actors, Ken Curtis.  THE KILLER SHREWS is hardly up to the level of THE SEARCHERS or GUNSMOKE, but I'm always glad to watch Ken Curtis in anything.

These movies were filmed back-to-back in Texas by the same crews, with very low budgets, of course.  Despite the presence of Ken Curtis in THE KILLER SHREWS, I like THE GIANT GILA MONSTER the best of the two, because we're still making fun of the "monster" that terrorizes the proverbial small town.  It's a real gila monster, of course, made to look huge by the photography, and it moves very slowly and nearly always in a straight line. Anybody who could walk very fast -- or sideways -- could get away from it, so there's no real reason for the town to be terrorized.

I wouldn't say these movies are good, but I really enjoyed watching them.  If you're looking for a nostalgic Halloween double feature and have a high tolerance for cheesy fun, you could do worse.

(Thanks to Livia for her help with this post.)


Randy Johnson said...

Both of these rank among my goofy favorites. I'm a child of my time. Today's youth wouldn't like them(not enough special effects, blood, and explosions). They were right for their time and those of us old enough still can enjoy those cheap thrills(while laughing under our breath).

pattinase (abbott) said...

I admire your ability to enjoy almost everything. It must do wonders for your health. It's a real gift.

Todd Mason said...

I think I'd mentioned to Bill, to his amusement, the fact that THE GIANT GILA MONSTER has a sort of amateur calypso theme running through, as one character has a compulsion to sing a calypso-like ditty badly while doing heavy-metalwork (and you refer to it correctly, in the singular, in the body but accidentally make 'em plural in the headers). THE KILLER SHREWS had those silly masks on, too...but the pooches were game, you have to give them that!

James Reasoner said...

That's exactly the reaction I had.

There's plenty of stuff I don't like, I just don't write about it here. But I admit, I do sometimes see virtues where few exist.

Fixed the typo in the header. The music in THE GIANT GILA MONSTER really isn't half-bad.

Fred Blosser said...

Saw the double feature of KILLER SHREWS and GIANT GILA MONSTER at the movies as a kid. I believe KILLER SHREWS also starred the great James Best.