31 Monsters in 31 Days: The Giant Gila Monster

I must admit, I love this movie. Fucking love it, with the same adoration I have for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, HALLOWEEN, or PHANTASM. And yes, I’m fully aware that my affections are misplaced; I’m not that crazy.

Chalk it up to nostalgia, as I easily clocked two dozens viewings of this 1959 cheapie the summer before my senior year of high school. Produced as part of a double bill (with the similarly awkward THE KILLER SHREWS) by Texas radio mogul Gordon McLendon and directed by Ray Kellogg, THE GIANT GILA MONSTER has all the earmarks of a low-budgeted regional production: fumbling actors, visible boom mics, and negligible special effects. By any critical standard it’s a hot, frothy mess–thus adding to its appeal.

There’s nothing I don’t love about this movie. The overworked sheriff (in a county of 12 people) butting heads with a penny-ante Henry Potter, the humble mechanic and his seizure-inducing songs, the oh-so-tender subplot about a little disabled girl’s dream to walk again, the fact that not once does the Gila Monster appear to be above average size–love it.

I should probably be ashamed, but I’m not.


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