STARRING: Don Sullivan, Lisa Simone, Shug Fisher, Jerry Cortwright, Beverly Thurman, Don Flourney, Pat Simmons, Fred Graham

1959, 74 Minutes, Directed by: Ray Kellogg

Description: The tranquility of a small Texas town is ruined when an enormous lizard begins to terrorize the place! At first, the adults dismiss the kids' hysterics as nonsense. The sheriff is helpless and the adults fail miserably to defeat the thing, so it's up to the teenagers to take it on.

A misleading title actually. There is a Gila monster (“a large, venomous lizard of the south-western U.S. and north-western Mexico, covered with beadlike scales of yellow, orange, and black” according to Webster’s) in it, but it is a normal-sized one that is aimlessly crawling along scale models.

Yeah, I kid you not: Giant Gila Monster has a real-life lizard (looking as disinterested as hell!) harassing scale models of cars, trains and a barn. Something in me would have preferred a stunt man in a rubber suit like in those Godzilla movies, but that’s probably just me! But you gotta hand it to that lizard: it out-acted everybody else in this movie . . . it really made me really believe that it was indeed a Gila monster!

The Giant Gila Monster may sound as if it has all the elements of a fun bad movie: hot-rodders in souped-up old cars, ‘Fifties teenagers, an over-sized lizard destroying tiny models and a spiritual song played with the sole accompaniment of a banjo (twice!). Unfortunately the movie is a real drag (no pun intended) as it focuses too heavily on its dull human protagonists and only comes alive in the few brief scenes that feature our titular lizard.

The acting is poor, the pacing languid and the ending is abrupt and anti-climactic. Ultimately The Giant Gila Monster is an exercise in tedium and boredom that makes similar fare such as Attack of the Giant Leeches and Teenagers from Outer Space look quite good in comparison.

(Yes, it was a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode and it is probably best viewed in that context. Otherwise, avoid.)



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