Jack the Giant Killer
was a 1962 Sword and Sorcery
film, directed by Nathan H. Juran and starring Kerwin Mathews (of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
fame) as the title character. The film was loosely based on the fairy tale of the same name
, and when we mean loosely, we mean very
The film follows the eponymous character, whom, after a failed attempt by main villain the warlock Pendragon
to capture the princess Elaine
, is escorting her across the sea to a convent. Sure enough, they're attacked by a gang of witches, and the princess is captured... again. Jack tries to take command and go after them, but is promptly thrown overboard by the now-mutinous crew, and the (dead) captain's son goes in after him. They are saved by a viking boat, after somehow floating on a bench for what could be days
, and it only gets weirder from there...
The film was an attempt to replicate the success
of the Ray Harryhausen
films of the time, especially the previously mentioned Sinbad film, to the point that they got both the director and star of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
into the project. They even tried to replicate the then-revolutionary stop motion special effects. It got to the point that Columbia Pictures threatened to sue United Artists, the film's distributor, over plagiarism. Their solution? It was re-edited as a musical.
Generally, the original cut is considered to be So Bad, It's Good
, for the over-the-top acting
, low-rent special effects
, and the cookie-cutter story that doesn't even carry a passing resemblance to the story it's based off of.
The musical cut, on the other hand...
Was recently the subject for a live MST by Rifftrax
, which premiered in theaters August 17th, 2011, bringing a much-needed riff on such a hilariously-terrible film.
In 2013, Warner Bros. released a quasi-remake of sorts entitled Jack the Giant Slayer
(originally titled Jack the Giant Killer
Tropes in Jack the Giant Killer include:
- Beard of Evil: Pendragon.
- Captain Ersatz: The giant near the beginning looks almost identical to the Cyclops, only it has two eyes instead of one.
- Damsel in Distress
- Demonic Possession: Pendragon uses his evil magic to turn women into witches to act as his agents who mostly retain their human appearance until a mirror reveals them for what they are and breaking the mirror exorcises them.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Elaine.
- Evil Costume Switch: When someone is revealed to be a witch, they are shown with pale green skin, reptilian eyes, and a ridiculously elaborate dress.
- Evil Is Hammy: Pendragon. Dear god, Pendragon...
- Pendragon's minion Garna is also pretty hammy.
- Possessed Princess Elaine also has one or two scenes where she cackles in the typical witch fashion, chewing the scenery.
- Evil Sorcerer: Pendragon.
- Follow the Leader: As stated before, probably the most infamous example.
- The Igor: Garna fits this to a T (abducting women, calling Pendragon "Master."), the only thing he lacks is the characteristic hunchback. However, he makes up for it by being short and hideous.
- Kid Sidekick: Peter.
- Leprechaun: The "Imp in the Bottle" who Rhymes on a Dime.
- One-Winged Angel: In the final battle, Pendragon turns into a dragon.
- Meaningful Name: Pendragon.
- The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Mirrors shows which women are possessed and are "witches".
- Never Recycle Your Schemes: Pendragon, is known as the Prince of Witches, and he surrounds himself with them, hideous monsters with amazing powers. The one time he sends them out to do his bidding in the entire film, they completely and easily overpower our hero and the entire crew of a ship to carry off Pendragon's evil plans with complete success, the only time in the film any of his plans actually works. So, naturally, he never uses them again. They just hang around looking evil and hideous while Pendragon sends easily defeated monsters after Jack. The witches are eventually destroyed when the castle blows up, having done not one other thing. It might have something do with finding the Imp in the bottle by that point and displaying magical powers, but still...
- Re Cut: It was recut as a Rankin/Bass-like Musical, with predictable results.
- Say My Name: I wonder if the two-headed giant at the start was named Cormoran?
- Standard Royal Court: The king's throne room, as opposed to the Deadly Decadent Court of Pendragon's throne room.