Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

GIANT FROM THE UNKNOWN


GIANT FROM THE UNKNOWN (1958). Director: Richard Cunha.

Many monster movie fans will be disappointed to know that the “giant” in this movie is not of Bert I. Gordon proportions like The Cyclops or Amazing Colossal Man but is only a very tall, bear-like actor named Buddy Baer. Baer plays a nasty Spanish conquistador who has been in suspended animation for 500 years, but has come back to life to attack people and livestock in the vicinity of Devil's Crag. This conquistador, Vargas by name, was known as “the Diablo Giant” due to his size. Ed Kemmer [of Earth vs. The Spider infamy] plays Wayne Brooks, who hooks up with an archaeologist named Cleveland (Morris Ankrum) and his not-terribly-scientific daughter Janet (Sally Fraser, who appeared in War of the Colossal Beast and other genre films). Fraser is better in this picture than in others, and she and Kemmer play a nice, charming love scene together. While it's become obligatory to snicker at Giant from the Unknown, the fact is that it's not such a bad movie at all. It is fast-paced, professional, continually suspenseful, and not badly directed by Cunha, who handles several sequences quite adroitly. The film is also very well edited. Albert Glasser's score, as usual, adds a lot to the picture as well. There has been some confusion over a scene when it appears that Vargas revives during a lightning storm even though people and animals have already been attacked earlier in the picture. It''s possible that in this scene Vargas is merely awakening after sleeping for awhile, and that he covered himself in leaves and the like so that he wouldn't be attacked while asleep. Unfortunately the dialogue refers to the lightning as a source of resuscitation, further muddying the waters. [Maybe it was the continuity person who was asleep.]
Verdict: Not bad. **1/2.

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