Friday, October 31, 2008

The Giant Gila Monster


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This is an odd little film, aside from the fact that there was no real giant Gila monster in the film, rather a regular size one filmed climbing over hot rods from the producer's kid's Matchbox set. Well, OK. There ARE no giant Gila monsters, I get that now. But as I kid, I didn't know. This isn't a film where the explanation of atomic radiation=big monsters (see THEM, TARANTULA, BEGINNING OF THE END, THE PREYING MANTIS, and three billion others), its just there. One lone Gila monster, so I assumed that there maybe could be such a thing. Hey, the film came out the year I was born, so I might've been eleven when I first saw it. Yea, you guessed it. 1970. Screaming Yellow Theater. Svengoolie. But that is not the oddity of this film. The man character is named Chase, and he's into hot rods and plays a guitar. Saves everyone at the end by filling his ride with nitroglycerin and peeling rubber, jumping clear in the last minute. Chase had a kind of look going, maybe Bobby Rydell or one of those surf rockers that would come a few years years after the film (maybe Rydell did, too, I don't know). Again, that's not my point. What is your point?, you ask. OK. Its the scene you likely watched already, the one where he sings "The Mushroom Song." I always thought that the song was called "Laugh, Children, Laugh," because I knew I'd never really be seeing a soundtrack for the film. And since its not the 1960s, its not called "The Doobie Song," or "The Bennies Song." For no real reason, as if it was from a film on Earth-14 that was string theory-spliced into this film, Chase brings his guitar to see two elderly women (i.e,. in their *gasp* 30s) and a crippled girl with leg braces. No explanation is given for any of this, if the girl had polio, whatever. She seems to be showing off new braces as she walks towards Chase and then topples over, brave little tyke. Unhappy because she could not walk all the way to Chase--who really, if you think about it, could have at least taken a few steps toward her, she wails until Chase kneels before her to strum his guitar and sing about the mushroom. Then he leaves, the women and the girl happy as all hell, and he drives off to go to a sock hop in a hillbilly bar and madness ensues when the giant Gila monster shows up. But to this day I have never, I mean NEVER, seen a monster movie that has ten minutes of What The Hell? jabbed into the middle of it. By finding it on YouTube, I feel strangely vindicated. By the way, go check out Helockman's blog, he's been posting about horror hosts, too. And he probably doesn't ramble on, as I tend to do.