The B movies of the 50s almost always have a familiar formula to them: they’re often populated with rock n roll teens getting into crazy situations and feature giant monsters. It’s a formula that works and despite the bad acting or lacklustre direction. And whether fans of today can appreciate them, it depends more on getting introduced to the film. Thankfully Film Masters 4k restoration and release of The Giant Gila Monster Special Edition (and Killer Shrews) proves that we don’t need MST3K to discover them.
Sometimes we hear that at the theatre anyways when there’s a rowdy group attending. At home, we can avoid that and admire just why these two films have a modern cult following. It’s not so much about why they are reflective of the era and how teens and adults behave way back when. instead it’s about how they react is nothing like modern horror. I get amused when they’re more golly gee, and dare to take on the threats. Whether they die isn’t the question.
The reason why this release is worth the attention is because of Ray Kellogg, the talent involved in bringing this pair of films to life. The transfer and restoration is excellent. I couldn’t spot a grain of film in watching these classics, and as for the bonus material, it was engaging. There’s also a mini booklet that talks about his career. Although he’s not widely known these days due to him being a very niche filmmaker, I’m sure he’s better known amongst his contemporaries back in the day. His contributions sit well with other films of the era like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and so on.
But for cinestes, to watch these films again in such a pristine format is simply a blast of the past. That’s all one needs to know when approaching older cinema. They can’t compare to today’s works using CGI and high end effects. But if you’re willing to suspend belief, perhaps that small iguana you have as a pet can star in a forced-perspective iphone made film where it takes over a beach!