Film: The Giant Gila Monster

The Giant Gila Monster is 1959 giant monster movie directed by Ray Kellogg (as part of a double-feature with The Killer Shrews).

In the backwoods of northern Texas, in a car overlooking a ravine, a young local couple may be scheming to elope and marry when a claw pushes their car over the edge to their deaths. Back in town, at the teen hangout, the couple's friends wonder where they are, and hot rod enthusiast Chase Winstead (Don Sullivan) teams up with the sheriff to go and find them. Sure enough, it transpires that the eponymous beastie is lurking about, and is gradually making its way towards the town.

This movie had the potential to be a campy narm-fest, alas; too little is seen of the big lizard wreaking destruction. It's seen on-screen for only about eight minutes of the film's 74 minute running time. All the rest is seemingly taken up with characters talking about where the couple might have disappeared, hot rods, and Chase playing/teens dancing to cheesy guitar music.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode see here.

This film provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Old Man Harris. Presumably not Steamroller Smith though; although he is drunk when first we meet him, he's apparently just returning from an all-night party (as evidenced by his tux).
  • Attack Of The 50-Foot Killer Whatever
  • B-Movie
  • Captain Morgan Pose: And lots of it.
  • The Cast Showoff: Don Sullivan (Chase) wrote and sang the "Special Songs" in the film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Earlier on in the film, Chase stores some vials of nitroglycerin. Guess what is eventually used to defeat the monster?
  • Cool Old Guy: The Sheriff tends to be a bit gruff, but is on generally good terms with the kids, especially Chase. Old Man Harris might count as well.
  • The Danza: Lisa Simone as Lisa.
  • Death by Sex: Well, they don't make it to the sex stage, but it is heavily implied that the young couple in the film's Cold Open were planning to elope before the lizard ate them.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: It takes about fifty minutes before the lizard finally smashes a train, and sixty before it crashes a teen party.
  • Disappeared Dad: Chase's father apparently died while working for Mr. Wheeler.
  • Infant Immortality: The lizard isn't particularly scary to begin with, but it gets a lot less so when it completely fails to catch and eat a crippled nine-year-old.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Missy, Chase's crippled baby sister.
  • Nitro Express: How Chase destroys the Gila Monster after bullets fail.
  • No More for Me: Some guy drinking while driving after he sees the lizard cross the road.
  • Notable Original Music: The "Mushroom Song" (a.k.a. "Laugh, Children, Laugh"), and "My Baby, She Rocks" (a.k.a. that goofy "Sing Whenever I Sing.. song")
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Mr. Wheeler seems to have it in for very nearly everyone in the county.
  • Sesquipedalian Smith: Horatio Alger "Steamroller" Smith, the DJ.