Giant from the Unknown

October 31, 2011 at 2:28 am (6 Heads, Giant from the Unknown) (, , , )

Giant from the Unknown – 1958 – United States

Giant from the Unknown is a lively creature feature made notable by hardworking Western stars handsome Ed Kemmer and hulking ex-boxer Buddy Baer. Giant from the Unknown is quick and cheap but competent, with action, romance, and dubious science aplenty.

In a quaint mountain town (“Pine Ridge? But this is just a wide spot in the road.”), two archaeologists scour the Indian burial mounds of Devil’s Crag. In suspended animation beneath a rockslide is the Diablo Giant, an axe-wielding conquistador berserker waiting to be resurrected by a freak lightning bolt. Soon the axe-chopping bone-smashing rampage starts, further complicated by a crazy Indian, knuckle-headed sheriff, and vengeful kid named Charlie Brown.

There’s also the requisite love interest. Here, Giant from the Unknown awkwardly shows its age. The ditzy blond makes beds, washes dishes, cooks, and is constantly and subtly dissed the rugged male hero. Native Americans are handled without much sensitivity either. Along with ridiculous science and unbelievable police procedures, you might feel your intelligence being insulted. Only the hero’s anti-authoritarian criticism of the sheriff feels modernly cynical.

But Giant from the Unknown pays off with rousing horror and suspense. While the giant is merely pretty tall, his scarred Neanderthal-like visage menaces. A killer conquistador is a unique concept that I appreciate immensely. Despite a respectable body count, the most gruesome violence is implied but at least the action is energetic. Particularly memorable is a nighttime manhunt lit by smoke-billowing flares. The climactic showdown in an abandoned snow-covered mill is equally exciting and beautiful. After which, the giant falls off a waterfall and his body is lost forever in a “bottomless volcanic crater lake”.

With decent acting, scenic mountain locations, and an original monster, Giant of the Unknown is likable genre fare. It’s almost always enjoyable to see an axe-wielding psycho go bananas. This flick is no exception.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. One head added in honor of conquistadors everywhere.

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