War Of The Colossal Beast (1958)

scifi-series07

Director: Bert I. Gordon

Starring: Sally Fraser, Roger Pace, Dean Parkin

Giant animals are scary. Giant robots are scary. But giant people are the scariest of all, because they’re people, just like us… except they’re giant. And we’re not and it’s scary coz we might get metaphorically trodded on by ourselvesMay contain a tall bloke and spoilers.

war01

Do any of you remember The Amazing Colossal Man? I don’t, not really. I’ve seen it but I have a feeling the occasion in question was a ‘late night after the pub’ bleary-eyed viewing. I didn’t realise War Of The Colossal Beast was a sequel, not until about halfway through and a load of flashbacking kicks off, then the penny dropped. Obviously, before the flashback I thought it all nigglingly familiar but I had assumed Colossal Beast was just a cheap (irony) rip-off. Now, I thought about hitting the ‘stop’ button and going after the slightly more famous Colossal Man instead but then I got bolshy about the situation. I mean, why isn’t Colossal Man on this double-bill disc with Colossal Beast in the first place (instead of Earth Vs The Spider)? Is it me or isn’t that the obvious thing to do? A quick delve into this puzzler and it seems that AIP changed the title, avoiding any mention Colossal Beast was a sequel because of an ownership issue involving Colossal Man. Well bollocks to them then. I’ll just do this one.

"KHAAAAAN!"

“KHAAAAAN!”

We learn pretty quickly that Colonel Glenn Manning (Dean Parkin) suffered horribly during a nuke test. The radiation fall-out has caused him to grow to enormous proportions, talking in the region of 60-feet tall. His sister Joyce (Sally Fraser) takes note of an odd news item from Guavos, Mexico, in which an irate gun club owner, John Swanson (George Becwar) is adamant his truck full of groceries has been spirited away – poof. We see this in the movie’s preamble, Swanson ranting at local cop Marillo (Rico Alaniz) and then ranting – pointlessly, as well as heartlessly – at the near-catatonic driver of said truck, Miguel (Robert Hernandez). Marillo scratches his napper in bemusement because “there isn’t anything in the book about a thing like this.” If he’s on about the police handbook then I reckon there might be a line or two about a procedure for investigating missing vehicles should he decide to have a thumb through it. I liked Swanson for his repeated use of the phrase “Get the picture?” as he’s putting his thing down. When Joyce arranges a meeting and along with Major Mark Baird (Roger Pace) explains the situation to him – “I’m trying to find my brother… a big man, a very big man…” – Swanson pays off his catchphrase with, “I don’t get the picture…” It’s nicely done – though the audience has probably forgotten the preamble already and director Bert doesn’t make the most of it; all you need is a knowing pause but instead Swanny blasts into his next line. Never mind.

Alcoholic oblivion helped Sally to face the script

Alcoholic oblivion helped Sally to face the script

Joyce, Baird and resident colossal expert Dr. ‘Sherlock’ Carmichael (Russ Bender) arrive in Mexico and Baird immediately insults the cheerful Marillo. “Where was it the boy saw the colossal man…,” he asks, then adds, “… the giant?” Because obviously a dumb Mexican can’t understand what the word ‘colossal’ means, right. They track Manning to a remote mountain top and I might add that Joyce’s choice of apparel for such an arduous climb is entirely unsuitable. Manning is quite a sight; the right side of his face is mashed up, empty eye socket, teeth exposed through a fleshy hole, badly knitted scar tissue and his conversational skills begin and end at: “Rooaarrgh… neeyaarrgh… wooaarrgh!” Anyway, they drug a loaf of bread, he scoffs it and they cart his unconscious and not inconsiderable arse back to LA on a military transport plane. The Mayor, however, doesn’t want Manning anywhere near LA – “We have no facilities for a giant,” he rightly points out and suggests the Hollywood Bowl to which Baird replies; “We can’t leave him exposed to the weather, even if he is a giant.” Mate, he was living on a feckin mountain top before you started shovelling doped bread into his mush, geez… The Mayor finally relents and allows them to use an empty hangar at the airport so long as Manning is safely restrained. Of course he is, no danger of him escaping at all, no sir…

"I think this may be some form of vehicle wreckage..."

“I think this may be some form of vehicle wreckage…”

Colossal Beast is utter tripe, though a lot of fun and at just shy of 70 minutes doesn’t outstay its crappiness. The make-up job on Manning is actually competent and serves two purposes; Manning took a long fall off the Boulder Dam after a volley of artillery at the end of Colossal Man and we now see it wasn’t without consequence, both of a physical and mental nature (amnesia/ affected speech). Also, and this is probably the key reason, the gruesome appliance disguises the fact that it is a different performer under the damage this time around and not the original Colossal actor, Glenn Langan. The Giant FX are patchy at best, sometimes passable (particularly Manning’s first appearance), but there are a host of size perspective issues. For example, he’s clearly not 60-foot when he falls on Marillo – although that scene fades out, so nay sure if Marillo gets fell on or not. Then near the end, with Manning looming behind the Griffith Park observatory, he reaches out to Joyce who must be about 30 miles away (slight exaggeration). It also begs the question as to how, exactly, does a 60-foot tall slap-head in a nappy get from LAX to Griffith Park undetected? I Googled it (yes, exactly as written); not likely.

Manning loved to munch on a Big Mack

Manning loved to munch on a Big Mack

One problem, and it’s a large one (heh!), is the lack of a Colossal Beast. It takes 20-odd minutes for his arrival on screen. Then for a large part of the remainder he is either roped or shackled to a makeshift platform. It is offset by having a flashback sequence lifted from The Amazing Colossal Man and this adequately conveys the back story for an audience unfamiliar, for whatever reason, with the source. Apart from that, Gordon seems to realise the inactivity isn’t helping his film so we get a sequence where Manning breaks his restraints and escapes the hangar only to be gassed back into captivity mere moments later. So if the main attraction isn’t on screen/ is immobile for a hefty chunk of the show, that means your supporting cast is carrying the movie. And if they’re stuffed with toe-curling dialogue they have to spout straight-faced, your movie is a goner. Luckily, the script is often very funny…

"How did he get past passport control? He doesn't look anything like his photo."

“How did he get past passport control? He doesn’t look anything like his photo.”

Dr. Carmichael, with a penchant for stating the bleedin obvious, charts the path of a tyre tread through mud to the water’s edge; “The truck apparently skidded into the water…” Yeh, you gotta get up very early in the morning to catch out Dr. C. He’s not finished either, waggling his foot over a ginormous found footprint (which oddly only has three toes) he concludes it must be 10 times the size of a normal man; “That would make him about 60-feet tall.” Joyce pounces on this news – Glenn was 60-feet tall!” Well then it must be Glenn, unless there are other colossal men of varying sizes wandering around. When the strain begins to show on Joyce, who has shortly before and for the first time witnessed her towering brother with half his face missing, in itself not an instantly forgettable experience, Major Baird steps in with some friendly advice…

“You mind if I suggest a remedy? It’s an old one but it usually works; find something else to occupy your mind. Do you have a job?”

“I write copy for an advertising agency,” she states proudly.

“Well that should help you forget your troubles,” he replies, with a smirk of triumph (or perhaps it’s sarcasm).

His understanding of her sibling affection is laced with realism though; “I’m afraid the world doesn’t think of a 60-foot man the way his sister does.” Well, yeh, but considering Joyce has recently referred to Glenn as a ‘freak’ (“A colossal freak, Major… and he’s my brother…”), I reckon the world and she are singing from the same hymn sheet. It’s not fair, I’ll stop now.

Tell you what, considering he's colossal, that's a big feckin bus, innit...

Tell you what, considering he’s colossal, that’s a big feckin bus, innit…

By and large the actors are completely unremarkable. Dean Parkin gives it a go with the angry/ pained schtick – I wouldn’t exactly call it nuanced though. By the time he gets to act a degree of humanity the film is wrapping up and we’ve seen no character journey to get Manning to this point – although to be fair, the flashback appears to come from his sleeping mind suggesting his addled wits are beginning to knit back together. The most notable feature occurs at the finale, when Manning finally rediscovers his marbles, recognises his sister and speaks her name before electrocuting himself on power lines. Here, as the sparks fly, the movie shifts into the colour format. It comes off as an arbitrary and somewhat gimmicky decision (and Manning simply, illogically, fades out of existence).

And that’s it, apart from another energetic Albert Glasser score (he even punctuates the opening credits, it’s top) there’s no reason for me to drag this on any longer. If you’ve got 70 minutes to spare it’s worth a laugh just for the script. Otherwise, well, there’s just not enough Colossal Beast action – and there certainly isn’t a War

 

Trailer: http://tinyurl.com/k9nvchk

 

Beast scores 1 Pensive Glenn Langan out of 5

 war-score

 

Cheers, folk.

ThereWolf, December 2013

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About ThereWolf

I only come out at night... mostly...

28 responses to “War Of The Colossal Beast (1958)”

  1. ThereWolf says :

    Sorry I’ve not been on much. Fuckin work. Cunt boss. Wanker.

    Anyway, I’ve put in for voluntary redundancy. We’re getting bought out & I want out.

    • Jarv says :

      Good luck mate. When do you find out?

      • ThereWolf says :

        Mid-January. 4 of us in the dept & we’ve all put in for VR, so someone might be unlucky. If that someone’s me I’ll resign coz I’m not working under that fat fucker anymore. We’ve already been moved off the floor to keep us away from him. It’s that bad I believe there’s a sweepstake going round the firm on who out of the 4 of us will get sacked first for kicking his face in.

      • Jarv says :

        Mid-January. 4 of us in the dept & we’ve all put in for VR, so someone might be unlucky. If that someone’s me I’ll resign coz I’m not working under that fat fucker anymore. We’ve already been moved off the floor to keep us away from him. It’s that bad I believe there’s a sweepstake going round the firm on who out of the 4 of us will get sacked first for kicking his face in.

        Fucking hell. What’s he done? I thought my manager was a tool, but that’s beyond belief.

      • ThereWolf says :

        I dunno where to start… he’s been repeatedly insulting to me, then he tried to provoke a reaction by sticking his face into mine. This latter got thrown out of an informal grievance meeting, didn’t happen apparently – but then he did it to one of the other lads. He’s shouldered another lad – twice (tried the same thing on me but missed) – walking at him & also started singing ‘redundancy, how will you pay your mortgage’ to him when he was on his own – this was before the news was official. Told someone else he hadn’t got a future…

        It goes on and on… and he seems to be bullet proof. 3 formal grievances against him now but the decision has been deferred. Everyone we speak to sez he’s gotta go. ACAS say he’s gotta go. He’s still there…

  2. Anonymous says :

    Lovely review.

    That make up is great. Film sounds like honk though

  3. Parlor of Horror says :

    As a ‘monster’ movie War of the Colossal Beast is the better film. That scene at the end with the bus and the searchlights was fun. But, the Amazing Colossal Man is a better script and more about the characters.

    • ThereWolf says :

      Colossal Man definitely had more story, but I couldn’t say which of the two is better, not without seeing the first one again. Mind you, the flashback in Beast sez as much anyway…

  4. Continentalop says :

    “How did he get past passport control? He doesn’t look anything like his photo.”

    That made me laugh.

    I’ve seen Colossal Man, never saw this though. Think I’ll pass (I doubt the movie is anywhere near as entertaining as your review Wolf).

    • ThereWolf says :

      Thank you very much, Conti.

      I had a King Kong caption for that picture up until the last minute, then changed it. Looks like I made the right choice!

      Like I say above, a few drinks should help you through it…

  5. Continentalop says :

    But now you can follow this up with Attack of the 50 Foot Woman or War of the Gargantuans!

  6. ThereWolf says :

    I’m having trouble getting a hold of Gargantuans… I hadn’t considered 50 Foot Woman – I shall now, won’t be next though…

    • Toadkillerdog says :

      Great and funny review as always wolfie. That movie sucked!
      BTW i cannot recommend war of the gargantuas any higher.
      Now, dont get me wrong, it aint great movie making, but damned if it aint entertaining as all getout, a total hoot, and i would love your take on it.
      Of course that is the sequel, so if you really want to get into it you must start with the first one called Frankenstein Conquers the World!

      • ThereWolf says :

        Cheers, TKD.

        Like I say, if I can find it, I’ll do it – Frankie Conquers as well. I may have seen at least part of Frankie years ago, the footage does look familiar…

  7. tombando says :

    He likes Big Macks! Brilliant! And punny.

  8. Just Pillow Talk says :

    I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen this, man does it sound bad. However, that 70 minute run time makes it do-able. Funny that the “monster” is always restrained and not doing monster type things.

    Good review as always.

    • Echo the Bunnyman says :

      Great review There. It’s like they sat around and tried to find a way for a 60 ft bald man in a diaper to be less intimidating. And they definitely succeeded. I recall seeing this, but remember almost nothing about it–my main mental image of it, is his being restrained or knocked out.

      Great time for a segue-way to Food of the Gods. You can even do Gnaw: Food of the Gods II.

    • ThereWolf says :

      Thanks, Pillow. Yeh, it’s short, which is a bonus. I presume the ‘restrained’ scenes are so they can have the flashbacks. But then there’s another scene where one bloke is shouting at him ineffectually. It’s hilarious – a scientific experiment to see if shouting “Manning!” repeatedly will provoke a response…

  9. Xiphos0311 says :

    I’ve never heard of this so of course I’ve never seen it but the review was ace rockolla Wolf.

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