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Giant Gila Monster (1959)


Don Sullivan is Chase Winstead
Fred Graham is Sheriff Jeff
Lisa Simone is Lisa
Shug Fisher is Old Man Harris
Bob Thompson is Mr. Wheeler

What the IMDB says:

In The Giant Gila Monster, most of the plot is given over to a group of hot-rod enthusiasts, headed by nice-guy Chase Winstead (Don Sullivan), who sometimes breaks into song. Before long, the titular gila monster, which is just that -- a real gila monster -- is lumbering about on miniaturized sets terrorizing the community, killing at random, knocking over trains and barns, and in general making a nuisance of itself. When the monster threatens to devour Chase's kid sister, he attempts to dispatch the beast with a hot rod full of nitroglycerin.


In the vast wastelands, the Gila Monster roams.

Where's a scaly giant lizard like me going to find a date except in Japan.
A teen couple is parked out in a deserted area. Nothing could happen to them, could it? Suddenly, they’re attacked before the credits can announce the stars.

Elsewhere at the soda shop, let the socks be hoppin’. The teens head off to the drive-in. So that’s what they’re calling it now…

Pat’s father, the missing teen boy, chews out the Sheriff to find his missing boy.

Sheriff stops by the gas station and talks with Chase and asks about Pat.

Why I can clean the pipes if you can afford to pay me...
Later, the station owner, Compton, brings in 4 cases of nitro. I wonder if that would be important later in the movie.

TOO DARK TO SEE ensues. The Gila Monster gets some guys.

At a car crash, they find the car is stolen. Chase finds some suitcase and cigarettes around.

Later, Chase consoles his distraught girlfriend, Lisa.

A drunk guy, Steamroller Smith, crashes his car after seeing the Gila Monster. Chase hauls the car to the station and is told about the monster. When Steamroller leaves he gives Chase his business card. Steamroller is a rock DJ.

Sheriff asks Chase to help him search for missing kids. During the search, Lisa is getting nervous. The Gila Monster is roaming about. The kids find Pat’s car. They tow the car in and are unaware of how close the Gila Monster is to them.

That night, Compton is driving down the road. However, he wrecks when spotting the Gila Monster. Cue the explosion.

Chase’s house, mom surprises him. His little sister finally has got her leg braces. The musical assault of Chase’s ukulele ensues. Sheriff calls Chase about a train wreck and could be Mr. Compton.

Heading out to the wreck, they find strange skid-marks like around the other wrecks.

Chase is planning a party with Steamroller.

Williams, the old drunk, is driving.

Elsewhere, some car tries to pass the train and gets flattened. Sheriff learns of the wreck. Chase meets the Sheriff who has been getting info on Gila Monsters. Somehow, he thinks a Gila Monster can get giant-sized like bus sized. He does want to keep that idea from being mentioned.

Sock-hop, the dance ensues.

Pat’s Dad accuses Sheriff of covering for Chase.

"I don't care what you say. New Coke was awful..."
He thinks a giant lizard is out there and blames the Sheriff for Compton’s death. Demanding that Chase be arrested for taking some tires off a car wreck.

Sock hoppin’…DJ Steamroller plays a couple of Chase’s songs.

You don't believe I can sound like Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower.."?!?!?
Everyone is unaware the Gila Monster is approaching. Pat’s Dad and Sheriff reach to the sock hop. The Gila Monster attacks the building. Let the panicking teens ensue.

Model building destruction ensues. The Sheriff goes for help. Chases heads off to the gas station. Sheriff deputizes Williams to keep the teens in one place.

Chase gets the nitro from the station and goes after the Gila Monster.

Hot roddin’ Gila Monster. Chases searches for his little sister and leaves Lisa with her. He keeps up his deadly quest. Gunning the engine and pointing his hot rod straight at the Gila Monster which BBQs.

The Sheriff arrives. Pat’s Dad apologizes. Chase’s car will be reimbursed and all is right with the world.

What I say:

How decades can be recognized by the decade? The 1980s had their slashers. The 1960s and 1970s had so many genres, it is hard for either to specify a sub-genre to a certain decade. The same can be said about the 1950s. However, one genre from the 50s that any b-movie fan can recognize is the giant animal movie. But just trying to use models and maybe super-impose the animal to make it look enormous. Earth Versus the Spider, Tarantula, and of course Them....Killer Shrews doesn't fit, they used dogs with carpet to stand in for the shrews.

Giant monster and teenagers but not in the Blob way. We only have the adult who doesn't trust the teens especially, Chase our hero. "Watch out!!! It's those danged teenagers in their souped up cars hot-roddin'!!" Sorry, think I've managed to contain my inner cantakerous curmugeon. While we don't get the anti-hot rod message from Hot Rod Girl which was slightly less obvious than a 15 foot statue of George Washington glowing fluorescent pink.

Does every movie need to be too dark to see? OK, only true low budget movies need to be too dark to see. Unfortunately, this movie does have to keep the audience from seeing a Gila Monster crawl around models that would be less impressive than some Lincoln logs for a building with a Tonka truck.

How does a movie about a giant lizard terrorizing seem dull? When, you're stealing almost entirely from the Bert I Gordon special effects such as the Beginning of the End special effects. At least the Gila Monster wasn't crawling on any postcards of Chicago. A Gila Monster walking over models isn't exactly impressive or on par with anything Ray Harryhausen ever did. Unfortunately, when that is the best compliment for a movie, there is suffering.

Never in my life did I imagine I'd be writing about ukelelees for free. But never mock them. After all, Tiny Tim was definitely the most baddest hardcore totally Airwolf ukelelee player that ever existed. Though listening to Chase singing about mushrooms with his instrumental accompaniment, he makes Kenny G sound like Slayer.

Unfortunately, keeping track of how many drunk drivers were in this movie is slightly hard to calculate than the number of drugs Keith Richards has taken since the 1960s.


Quotable Dialogue

"Get me a snort of sodey-water..."
"Let me smell your breath."
"There was a small little mushroom...."

Morals of the Story

Taking nitro out of cases is easy.
Drunks routinely see giant gila monsters.
Scavenging tires off car wrecks is legal.
Eavesdropping on police calls is no big deal.
All radio DJs own elephants in Asia.

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