War of the Colossal Beast
Title: War of the Colossal Beast
Year Of Release: 1958
Running Time: 69 minutes
DVD Released By: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Directed By: Bert I. Gordon
Writing Credits: Bert I. Gordon (story) George Worthing Yates (screenplay)
Starring: Sally Fraser
1. The Towering Terror From Hell!
Revenge of the Colossal Man
The Terror Strikes
Review Date: 4.16.06 (updated 1.1.10)
Shadow's Title: "War of the Colossal Bore"
Buy This Film From Amazon
Col. Glenn Manning – The Colossal Beast himself. Since events of the first movie he's lost an eye, some teeth, lots of facial skin, most of his marbles and is forced to forage for food south of the border in Mexico. After all that Mexican food, he can probably be smelled from several miles away.
Joyce Manning – Glen’s sister, who wasn’t in the first film. Evidently his fiancée has moved on with her life and gotten hitched to someone else, leaving “worried, sobbing woman” duties to Joyce here and boy does she excel at them. Just my opinion but HOT DAMN, she is smokin’ hot!
Major Mark Baird – Other names could be Major Asshole or Major Dickwad. He has been put in charge of investigating the rumors of Glen still being alive somewhere in Mexico and has also been ordered to capture him if he is. Displays all the sensitivity of Rush Limbaugh at an Earth First convention.
Dr. Carmichael – He was the head of the military’s “radiation exposure department”, which in hindsight is akin to being the head of the “Serrated Knife In The Guts,” “Acid Poured Down The Throat” or “Red Hot Poker Up The Ass” departments – all things sure to ruin your day.
Sgt. Luis Murillo – The top cop in the Guavos police force. Then again, he seems to be the only cop, as we never see anyone else in a police uniform. By his own admission, there isn’t really much to the job: rounding up the occasional thief now and then and no doubt locating lost burros.
John Swanson – Every film needs an asshole. This guy is an American that runs a gun club in the hills near Guavos. It is one of his missing trucks that gets the story rolling when Glen intercepts it for the food it was carrying. Spends most of his time on the verge of bursting a major blood vessel.
Plot Hold your cursor over an image for
a pop-up caption
After we see the American International Pictures logo, which can be either a good or bad omen depending upon one’s viewpoint, we spy from a distance a truck racing down a dirt road that winds through some craggy hills. A flatbed with removable side panels (or what is often referred to as a stake bed truck) it resembles the truck that would later be seen in the opening credits of Sanford and Son – an early 50’s model Ford. Alas, this is not Lamont driving the vehicle, as it is careening along the dirt road for all it’s worth, the driver obviously under the mistaken assumption that he’s appearing in a hotrod movie. Said driver is a young Latin male, who periodically looks over his shoulder at the road behind him with a great deal of concern. In a more stereotypical film moment, this would be because our young Latino had stolen the truck and was trying to evade the cops. However, that is not the case here.
We get several shots of driver and vehicle as the opening credits unfold, and given that we see precious little else aside from some desert scenery, we must conclude that there is someone or something that is following this guy, albeit from quite some distance back. Either that or this guy is a stickler for details and keeps looking back to make sure all those names are spelled correctly in the titles. Then again, if giant floating letters that spelled out “Bert I. Gordon” began appearing in my rearview mirror (or technically “nodroG .I treB”) and following me around town, I’d be prone to frequent looks over my shoulder as well.
Finally, the driver plows the truck into a large pool of water and comes to a sudden stop, the vehicle refusing to budge another inch. In addition to bringing his conveyance to a halt, the water also seemingly has the uncanny ability to freeze car doors, as the driver slides across the seat and exits the vehicle from the passenger side instead of opting for the quickest way out of the truck – the door right next to him. Throwing more worried looks over his shoulder, he begins splashing through the water in an attempt to put more distance between himself and whatever is following him. He only makes it a few feet before slipping and letting out a terrified scream. Picking himself up, he stumbles on, but once again falls and lets loose with a scream of horror. Whatever it was that was tailing him seems to have caught up. The image fades to black as the young man writhes around in the muddy water, screaming.
Now we fade in on the community of Guavos, Mexico…complete with overly burdened donkeys…er…excuse me…BURROS, being led down the street. Why are burros always shown in such establishing shots? Movies would have us believe that there is some federally mandated law in Mexico that each community, no matter how small, must maintain at least one burro for every twenty-five people. Why burros BTW? Were horses never imported or do the Mexican people fail to see a reason to upgrade? Anyway, a car pulls up to the police station and one seriously cranky-looking Gringo gets out, stomps into the building and starts calling for someone. When an officer shows up – Sargent Murillo specifically, Mr. Cranky says that he wants to report a stolen car. He identifies himself as Swanson, the owner of a gun club located “back in the hills.” He describes the vehicle that has been stolen and it would seem to be the very same truck we just saw a few seconds ago driven by the young screaming guy.
When the Sargent asks where it was stolen from, Swanson admits that he is not sure, and explains what he does know. It seems “the season” opens in another week and expecting a sizable crowd at his club, Swanson was stocking up on supplies – bringing them down by the truckload from Calexico. Having earlier left the gun club’s station wagon in San Phillipe (which presumably is somewhere between Calexico and Guavos) to have a new rear end put in, when he arrived there on his return trip in the truck, he realized he could not drive both vehicles back to his club. Hiring a young kid to drive the truck for him, he sent the youth ahead while he followed a few hours later. The teenager was supposed to meet him in Guavos, but has not arrived yet and is now a day late.
Before going any further, let me comment on Swanson’s demeanor in this scene. Ok, he is upset because he believes his truck has been stolen, I get that. But when he is relating the facts to Murillo, he punctuates every other sentence by asking him, “get the picture?” in one of the most rude tones imaginable. He’s behaving as if he is an astrophysicist trying to explain quantum mechanics to a first grader and only has ten minutes in which to do it. He treats the other guy like he’s a retard and incapable of comprehending anything. It is a full on “ugly American” moment and I’m surprised at the restraint shown by Sargent Murillo. Me – I’d have hauled out my pistol and shot his ass by now…and then made up something to cover it, like how he was going for a knife or something. Yeah, that sounds about right. Um? Wazzat? Oh, yeah! The movie…
Murillo asks Swanson if he has looked for the youth, to which the other guy says, “everywhere.” The Sargent thinks that perhaps the youth went back to the club, since Swanson cannot locate him, but the other man says that he just came from the club and the teen was not there. So now Murillo theorizes that perhaps Swanson passed by him on the road from San Phillipe and that the youth has yet to arrive. With his usual charm, Swanson testily points out that if he had passed the truck on the road, he would have recognized it as his. However, Murillo wonders if perhaps the truck went off the road at some point and could not be seen. Swanson isn’t buying this idea either, as according to him, there is no place to pull off the road without getting caught in the sand. Weighing this information, the Sargent asks, “then how could your truck be lost?” I swear, I thought Swanson’s head was going to explode at that point. Instead, he just blurts out, “If it wasn’t lost would I be coming to you?”
Sargent Murillo now asks Swanson about the youth in question. Swanson says that his name was Miguel and that he was about fifteen or sixteen years of age. He goes on to describe the kid’s height, coloring and build. Murillo asks him if he would recognize the youth if he saw him, and Swanson answers in the affirmative. Standing and retrieving his hat, Murillo now invites Swanson to accompany him across the street.
We cut now to a room in what must be a hospital or medical clinic of some type. We know this because we see one guy decked out completely in white, so either he is some type of doctor or a chef that has lost his big poofy hat. Seeing that there is a notable absence of a grill or any other culinary trappings nearby and you’ll understand why I’ll bet on “doctor.” Whatever, the place is pretty damn small because despite there being a pair of beds in this room – a sure sign of it being a patient’s room – we can gaze through the window and see Sargent Murillo and Swanson walking across the street in this direction. A few seconds later they enter and approach one of the beds – the only one with an occupant. Recognizing the youth laying in the bed as Miguel, Swanson grabs him and demands to know where his truck is, but there is no reaction from Miguel.
Sargent Murillo pulls Swanson back and the cranky gringo asks what is wrong with the youth. Murillo beckons to the doctor nearby, who approaches. The two converse in Spanish briefly and then Murillo informs Swanson that Miguel is very sick and is suffering from shock. Swanson inquires into what has caused the shock. Again Murillo and the doctor speak in Spanish and the Sargent says that no one seems to know. Not getting any satisfying answers, Swanson leans over poor Miguel and shouts, “what did you do with my truck?” At the very least, Miguel no longer needs to be bathed, as he was just the recipient of a spit shower.
Once again Murillo pulls Swanson back. Then he leans over Miguel and speaks to him in Spanish. Miguel just lies there, his eyes bugging out of his head in much the same manner when men undergo prostate exams. Eventually, the Sargent coaxes a response from the near comatose youth. Miguel says something to Murillo in a soft whisper, so faint that no one else can hear it. The Sargent now turns to the doctor and another brief exchange in Spanish occurs. Swanson asks what it was that Miguel said, but Murillo says that it is no use and that if the teen gets any better, the doctor will let them know. Now, though he wants to take Swanson to where the youth was found. With that, the two leave.
We now return to the spot where Miguel drove the truck into that pool before he started splashing around in the water like an epileptic. A station wagon drives up to the pool from the same direction Miguel approached it. Wait a minute! If Miguel was heading towards Guavos in the beginning of the film and these guys are coming from Guavos, shouldn’t they be arriving from the other direction? Swanson and Murillo get out and walk over to some tire tracks in the mud. The Sargent asks Swanson if it was his truck that made the tracks. Swanson is positive that it was his vehicle, as the tracks show evidence of two new retreads on the rear axles. Murillo points out the obvious by saying that the truck came down the road and got stuck in the mud. Swanson now asks the logical follow-up question: then where did it go? “Straight up on the air,” replies Murillo.
Swanson is none too pleased and badgers the Sargent about locating his missing truck. Again, by this time my patience with this dork would have long since expired and I would be sorely tempted to shoot his ass and hide his corpse in the nearby stand of trees. In fact, I’m utterly shocked that this doesn’t happen, as this is the Mexican Police we’re talking about. I know first hand (ok, second hand) how bad they can get…one time a friend of mine was driven out into the desert by two Mexican Police Officers, robbed and left there. After hearing that story, I decided to never set foot across the border again…unless of course it was to one of those fabulous resorts.
Murillo explains that he is just a small town police officer. It is his duty to keep the peace. If someone commits a crime, his job is to apprehend them and stick them in jail…all according to “The Book.” Murillo references “The Book” a couple times and I must conclude that he is speaking of some police guidebook and not the bible – that would be The GOOD Book. According to Murillo, “The Book” says nothing about a situation like this, therefor he is out of his element and is unsure how to proceed. Fade out.
Fade in. Two quick establishing shots, one of a freeway and one of the Beverly Hilton, lets us know that we have now moved north of the border, albeit legally, unlike half the population of Southern California. In her room at the Hilton, Joyce Manning sits and watches the TV. The world news has finished and the announcer now turns to something on the lighter side: the story of John Swanson in Guavos, Mexico and how he is having trouble collecting the insurance on his missing truck. Since the vehicle has disappeared without leaving any tracks, Swanson is insisting that something carried it off. The news anchor laughingly asks, “what could have carried off his truck?” This gets Joyce to thinking and she quickly grabs the telephone and begins dialing. Contacting the operator, she says that she would like to make a person to person call to John Swanson down in Guavos and will hold the line. What if the guy is no where near a phone…like in the crapper or something? She may be holding that line for quite some time.
The next thing we see is John Swanson is mid tirade. He’s blathering on and on about getting a lawyer to make the insurance company pay. If that fails to sway them he’ll get two lawyers! That sure as hell will show them! After all it’s not the skill and ability of your lawyer that counts, it's how many you can field in the courtroom battle arena. Yeah right. Anyway, the camera pulls back from Swanson and we realize that he is talking to Joyce and that he is in her room at the Hilton. She hands him a drink and he calms down somewhat, apologizing for his outburst.
Just then the door buzzer can be heard and Joyce excuses herself to answer it. At the door is Major Baird, whom she invites in and offers a drink, which he declines (he’s on duty after all). Introducing him to Swanson, Joyce tells the Major that Swanson was good enough to drop by and tell her his story. It turns out Swanson was in the L.A. area trying to squeeze that money from his insurance carrier.
“Have I missed much?’ asks Baird, which leads me to believe that he already has a passing familiarity with the other man and his insurance problems. Joyce relates to the Major the fact that Swanson was not in the vicinity when his truck went missing. Baird then asks him if he noticed anything unusual in the area – tracks to be specific. Swanson says that there may have been animal tracks but Baird is speaking of human footprints. Swanson is unsure what is so unusual about that and Joyce tells him that they would be the footprints of a “big man…a very big man.” Since Tor Johnson is not in this film, we can instantly rule him out.
Swanson asks how big and Baird tells him such tracks would be ten times normal size. Swanson now wonders if the Major is just feeding him bullshit but Joyce informs him that she is trying to locate her brother. Baird adds that he got a sizable dose of radiation when testing a plutonium bomb and starting growing eight to ten feet a day. This rings a bell with Swanson, who recalls the story of Glen Manning, the Colossal Man. However, he is under the impression that Manning died after being shot and falling from Boulder dam. Joyce believes that Glen survived both the gunfire and the fall, and this may explain Swanson’s missing truck. When she poses such an idea directly to Swanson, he balks and asks her to leave him out of it. He repeats that he has seen no footprints nor any giants and has enough trouble with the insurance people without adding colossal men to the mix. He decides it's time for him to go and heads for the door. Before he can exit, Joyce asks him if there is anyone else who might be able to help her. Swanson mentions the youth Miguel, but adds that the teen is suffering from shock and is not talking. Then Swanson apologizes for not being more helpful and makes his getaway.
Major Baird now takes the opportunity to suggest to Joyce that it may be time for her to give up any hopes of Glen being alive. Personally, if I was alone with her, I’d be taking the opportunity to get her liquored up and engaged in a round or two of bumping uglies…but that’s just me. Baird admits that the army gave up on Manning a long time ago, but Joyce brings up how a body has never been found. Baird talks about how the river below the dam is a mile deep in some places (damn, that is one friggin deep river!) and that his body is down there. He’s sure it will turn up sooner or later. Joyce still believes that Glen survived and made his way down river to the Gulf of California. Baird thinks such a thing is impossible as he was the one who was in charge of the search for Manning and all the medical authorities believe that despite his size, being hit by two bazooka rockets and falling over seven hundred feet would have been fatal. The Major now heads for the door, Joyce apologizing for his visit not being worth his while. Baird now says that it might be if she’d consider having dinner with him tonight. Joyce declines, saying that she is leaving for Mexico as soon as possible. Shot down, Baird leaves. Fade out.
Fade in to Guavos again...only this time the establishing shot is mercifully free of burros! Sargent Murillo is showing Joyce into Miguel’s room at the hospital. He tells her that she can question the boy if she’d like, as he is supposed to speak a little English. She calls his name several times but Miguel is still in his catatonic state, eyes staring into the distance at nothing…very much like the average clerk you’ll find at your local 7-11. Murillo offers to find her a place to stay for the night but Joyce announces that she will be staying with Miguel. The Sargent asks “all night?” She replies by saying she’ll remain for as “long as necessary.” Murillo heads off to have his wife prepare her some food while Joyce settles in for a long night of watching Miguel.
At some point during the night Miguel begins to thrash about in bed and repeating something in Spanish over and over. Joyce awakens but still cannot get a reaction from him so she goes to the window and calls to Murillo across the street in the Police station. Who needs phones when everything is so damn close? Murillo comes running (why she didn’t try finding a doctor is beyond me) and leans in to listen to Miguel’s wild ranting. The boy eventually calms down and returns to a peaceful sleep. The Sargent admits to Joyce that he cannot understand what the boy is trying to say and asks her to call him if he should speak again. Sensing that his mumbling has gone un-translated, Miguel now bolts up in bed, screams the scream of someone who just sat on something extremely sharp and hot, and then shouts out something several times before thrashing about a bit more in bed. Murillo and Joyce rush over to him and try to get him to talk but he just makes moaning noises and drifts off back to sleep. Joyce asks Murillo what word Miguel was saying and Murillo informs her that it means “ a giant man” or ogre. The Sargent chalks it up to a dream but Joyce tries questioning Miguel about a giant man, however the youth is still not talking. Fade out.
When we fade in again we see the exterior of the Guavos Police station. A jeep has pulled up with Major Baird and Doctor Carmichael. Joyce and Sargent Murillo emerge from the station as Baird says they came just as soon as they received her call and then he introduces her to the Doctor, telling her that he is the head of their “radiation exposure.” How bad must it have been in the military in those days if they had a dedicated “radiation exposure” department? Was being exposed such a foregone conclusion? Anyway, Carmichael hopes he can help Joyce’s brother and after Sargent Murillo is introduced to the two Americans, telling them the boy Miguel still has yet to speak, the four of them pile into the Sargent’s jeep so he can take them to the spot where the truck disappeared.
Once more we return to the muddy tracks, which amazingly enough, do not look like they have dried one bit, despite days having elapsed since the truck vanished (evidence to support the idea that all the scenes taking place here were shot at the same time). Doctor Carmichael looks at the tracks and makes the astute observation that the truck skidded into the water, but never drove out. Really? Thank goodness Sherlock is finally on the friggin’ case! Major Baird still believes it is rather slim evidence to point to Glen Manning still being alive. Joyce brings up Miguel and what he said (or what he screamed rather), but Baird thinks there still may be another, more logical explanation for everything. Like what? What is going to cause a fifteen year-old youth to slip into slack-jawed, bug-eyed catatonia, broken only by occasional fits of terrified screaming? Other than walking in on his parents as they engaged in a round of the Mattress Mambo, I can’t think of anything that could traumatize a teenage boy so badly…unless it was his grandparents he interrupted. That would be just freaky. I think I’d suffer from shock, too if I saw that.
Sargent Murillo, who has wandered off a bit, now calls the others over to see something he has discovered. There in the mud is a gigantic human footprint. Now tell me, why did no one notice this thing earlier? You mean to tell me that when Miguel was first located, no one found it while examining the scene? When Murillo took Swanson to that spot, neither of them saw it then? I’m sure that when Swanson filed his insurance claim, his policy holder sent someone to investigate the case and look over the scene…and they didn’t find it either? You’ve got to be kidding me! This print is only a few feet away in the mud. It's not like it was hidden behind some bushes or something. It was right in plain view! I cannot believe the cops didn’t see it. I guess in Mexcio CSI stands for Cop Skills Insufficient.
Joyce asks Baird if this is enough compelling evidence to sway him, while Doctor Carmichael calculates the print to be about ten times larger than a normal sized Human foot, making whoever left it around sixty feet in height. Joyce points out that Glen was sixty feet tall, as if this correlation is further incontrovertible proof as to who made the prints. Really…who else could it be? Despite the footprint appearing in one shot as if it’s owner only had three toes, who else could have made the print? The Jolly Green Giant? It's not like there is an abundance of giant people walking about in the Mexican countryside…or anywhere else for that matter. Murillo points towards the horizon and announces that “he” must have gone to the mountains. Everyone walks back to the jeep, where Major Baird asks Sargent Murillo if “he" could really be in those mountains. Murillo thinks it may be so, since there are no people in those parts. Baird suggests they head in that direction to investigate, but that they drive slow so they can keep an eye out for any more foot prints.
Sometime later they pull to a stop in a rocky area that doesn’t quite scream “mountain range” in my opinion. Then again, it barely says “rocky area.” Murillo claims there are no more footprints to follow as the soil has become too hard for any to be left behind. The Sargent points to something he sees a short distance away and the group sets off on foot to check it out. They soon come upon the crushed remains of a truck, half hidden in the brush. Joyce thinks it is Swanson’s missing truck, but Murillo points out that it is the wrong type and color (not to mention make, model and year no doubt. Sigh…women).
Just then there comes a crashing sound and several large boulders come bouncing down the hillside, forcing the group to huddle together for protection…and a prime opportunity for Baird (or any other straight guy present) to press himself tightly against Joyce – and possibly cop a feel – under the pretext of seeking shelter from the rock slide. Alas, no one is up to the challenge. Baird just passes off the slide as a natural occurrence. Murillo mentions how it is getting late, so they had better leave. “It is not good to be here after dark,” he says. Um…why? He said no one lived here in the mountains, so it's not like a band of mutated, inbred hillbillies are gonna emerge once the sun sets in order to hunt them down and eat them in the same grand tradition of the infamous Sawney Bean clan. Is it some local fauna instead? Are there dangerous animals that come out only at night…such as mountain lions or vampire bats? Or is the truth even more frightening: this close to the border, the mountain passes become a literal freeway of illegal aliens making their way into the United States and Sargent Murillo does not want to A) get trampled by the crowds, as well as B) feel obliged to arrest them all? Whatever the case may be, the four of them return to the jeep so they can high tail it back to town.
We now see Joyce, Doctor Carmichael and Sargent Murillo seated at a table in the Police station. A Mexican woman, who I am assuming to be Mrs. Murillo, is serving up plates loaded with food. Major Baird enters and sits on Murillo’s desk, announcing that the Mexican military has troops and artillery standing by. These forces will move in on the colossal man as soon as Baird’s small group pinpoints where he is located. Joyce points out that Glen might come with them willingly if they were to reason with him rather than opting for brute force. In response, Baird now says one of the most idiotic things in the entire movie. It really shows his severe lack of intelligence and makes one wonder when the U.S. military started recruiting mentally deficient people. He looks at Joyce and asks, “How do you reason with a sixty foot giant?” At this point, Baird has no way of knowing that Glen has turned into a colossal retard, so why does he assume that based on height alone, Manning cannot be reasoned with? Isn’t that extremely short sighted (pun not intended)? Does he actually think that mental acuity and cognitive functions begin to decrease as a person gets taller? Yes, Glen was unstable when he took that dive off Boulder Dam, but who wouldn’t be after being caught in an atomic bomb blast, losing all their hair and suddenly growing in size faster than Barry Bonds on steroids? What is this moron gonna base a decision on next…someone’s weight? Skin color? Choice of fast food? IDIOT.
Displaying more common sense than the Major, Doctor Carmichael suggests that Glen might respond better to someone he knows, such as his sister, so why not give it a shot? Baird just shakes his head and says no, because he doesn’t want anyone getting hurt. Joyce jumps up from her meal and says, “Please let me try at least.” Baird just says no again. Then Joyce says, “Be reasonable. If you use force on him somebody will get hurt.” Now Baird shakes his head no in much the same annoyed manner as an adult would do with a whiny, plaintive child. Seeing that the Major has his head stuck so far up his ass that he could probably floss with his intestines, Joyce announces that she will just go to Glen alone. She marches out of the police station, a resolved look set on her face.
Baird chases after her and outside he explains that he didn’t volunteer for this assignment (oh, boo friggin hoo) but he’s gonna do things his way. Joyce points out that his way will hurt her brother more than help him. The Major babbles some more about protecting people by what in essence is firing the first shot. The next thing you know, he’ll be a proponent of invading a foreign nation under the guise of rooting out terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Joyce asks Major Asswipe if she is just supposed to forget about her brother. He admits that it is natural that she be concerned, but she should leave it at that…after all, she isn’t even sure if Glen will recognize her. She still wants to try and doesn’t wish to wait until the following day for the Mexican soldiers to arrive. He brings up the fact that it might be very hard to locate her brother, given the size of the mountain range, but she insists on trying by following the footprints again. The Major gives in and the two hop in his car for a quick drive to the mountains.
The next thing we see is the two of them stomping around in the same spot where they encountered the rockslide earlier. This has me confused. When they left that location it was because Murillo said it was getting late and being there after dark was not a good idea. So then the four of them obviously drove back to town where Baird went off to rustle up the Mexican military and the others went to the police station for some food. The meal they were eating looked like chicken, which is not something people will normally eat for breakfast, even in Mexico, so it had to be occurring on the same day and not the next morning. Then Baird came by the station and within minutes he and Joyce are heading back to the mountains. So why isn’t it dark? These two are fumbling through the brush like a fifth rate Lewis and Clark expedition, yet it’s still broad daylight out. I thought it was gonna be dark soon?
After much hiking, the pair comes to a flat shelf-like area up in the hills. The place is littered with the wrecked and twisted remains of numerous vehicles. Examining some of the scattered cargo of these trucks, Baird realizes that Glen has been raiding them for food on which to live. Amongst the debris is a rifle that looks like Superman got a hold of it and tried to twist into a pretzel shape. Joyce notices a huge thumb print on one of the nearby wrecks and points it out to Baird. They realize that this particular heap is Mr. Swanson’s missing truck.
So the movie would have us believe that Glen was hanging out in the Mexican Mountains and raiding passing trucks for food? I am so calling a big fat BULLSHIT on that one. Did you see how big he was in relation to those vehicles? To him they were about as big as a Double Whopper container, but with far less food in them comparatively speaking. I don’t know about you, but a Double Whopper does NOT fill me up for the day. I need more than that, and I’m sure big Glen does, too. He would need to be devouring the contents of a dozen trucks (at least) each day in order to stay alive, let alone maintain an ideal body weight…and he sure did not look like he was ready for the Anorexic recovery program just yet. I’m sure if that many trucks went missing each day, someone would have noticed long ago, so either he was supplementing his diet with healthy doses of steak tartar (i.e. snatching up cows and eating them) or the supplies in those trucks were packed with more calories than any other food in the history of time.
Speaking of missing trucks, where the f*ck are the drivers for all these vehicles? Did Glen eat them, too or did they just drop dead from sheer fright? Perhaps, too afraid to admit what really happened to their vehicles for fear of being ridiculed, they just took advantage of the opportunity before them to hike over the border and start a new and rewarding life as part of America’s latest batch of taxi drivers and lawn care professionals? While Glen wasn’t grabbing up a dozen trucks each day, he was still intercepting enough that someone somewhere should have noticed A) all the missing vehicles and more importantly, B) the missing people! You mean to tell me that NO ONE noticed a giant until now??? The guy has to leave footprints behind him. Worse, the guy has to crap, so you’d think stumbling across a piece of shit the size of a downed tree (insert your own “building a log cabin” joke here) would alert someone that there was something funky going on. Okay...back to the movie.
Suddenly there is a roaring sound that fills the air. Joyce asks what it is, but Major Dumbass doesn’t know. Quite unexpectedly Glen Manning, the Colossal Man himself, appears. Because of his height, the flat area upon which Joyce and Baird are standing only comes up to his chest, so all we see of him is a head and shoulders, but that is quite enough let me tell you. It seems that fall from Boulder Damn and his subsequent voyage down river wasn’t very kind on the old boy. It looks like Mother Nature hit him with an ugly stick. Hard. And a lot. Glen’s right eye socket is empty and is nothing more than a great black hole. The skin around it is gone, revealing the bone of his skull. The facial cheek on that side is pretty jacked up as well, and the flesh around his mouth is partially gone, showcasing some teeth at which even the British would be appalled. Even his right shoulder bears some scarred tissue, looking like he used it to put out a fire or something. The only sound he makes is a guttural roaring, which puts his communication skills on par with your average male.
In his hands is a truck that reads “Smith Miller” on the side. I thought this was Mexico? There sure are a lot of Gringo businesses operating in the region. One must assume that the driver of the truck pulled a Miguel and exited the vehicle before Glen was able to grab a hold of it. It’s a good thing too, as Glen now shakes the hell out it, trying to release its contents. Anyone still inside would no doubt have suffered a fatal case of whiplash. Glen pauses a moment and notices Joyce and Baird. There is a split second where it seems like he recognizes his sister, and she takes a few steps towards him, only to be halted by the Major. Glen returns to shaking the truck and yanking out its cargo. Finding nothing edible, he testily throws it aside and stomps off. Joyce and Baird then make a beeline for the Major’s car.
Next we see Sargent Murillo and Doctor Carmichael in the police station, unloading a dozen or so loaves of bread from a large box. Murillo asks Carmichael if they have been baked to his satisfaction. The Doctor grabs a loaf, tears it open and takes a small bite. It seems ok to him and he asks when the rest will be done. How many sandwiches is this guy planning on making? Or is he following the lead of all these other American businesses in the region and opening up his own Subway sandwich franchise? The Doc now walks a few feet away to where Baird and Joyce are seated. He offers a small piece of bread to the Major and tells him to try it. When Baird nibbles on it, Carmichael asks if he tastes anything, but the only thing the Major can taste is bread. Carmichael then says that the bread is loaded with chlorolhydrate – enough to put Glen out for eight hours. Does each loaf contain that amount or is he referring to all the loaves collectively? More important, why is he letting Baird sample it?
The Doctor heads back to the bakery, leaving Baird the chance to justify their proposed plan of action to Joyce. He thinks this is the best way to handle matters, but she wonders if there isn’t any other method they could use. The Major says that they’re stuck with this course of action unless they want to let the Mexican authorities take over. At the mention of the Mexicans I am left wondering, what would they dope up to feed him…a million flour tortillas? Better hope they don’t plan on serving up a gigantic sized burrito – the last thing anyone needs is a sixty-foot man with gas…or worse, the shits. Yikes. Joyce is upset that no one has bothered to think of another idea, but Baird points out that there just has not been the time to do so. If they don’t capture Glen now, he could move on to a new mountain range and they’d lose track of him for weeks.
Joyce now brings up Glen’s face and how horrible it was when they caught sight of him earlier. Out of nowhere Baird asks her where she is from, and when she informs him that her home is in San Francisco, he asks her if she doesn’t think it would be better is she was back there. She doesn’t relish the idea of just sitting around waiting for news, so he suggests engaging in something that will occupy her mind. Let me tell you, I can think of a few things to do that would occupy other parts of her as well (Bad, bad Shadow). He asks if she has a job and she replies yes, writing copy for an advertising agency. She imagines that going back to that job, with it’s emphasis on adjectives (tremendous, gigantic, colossal) would just remind her of her freak brother. At this point Doctor Carmichael calls to Baird from outside, letting him know that everything is ready for their attempt at capturing Glen. The Major leaves and Joyce just sits there, contemplative.
We now return to the country, where Carmichael is loading all those tainted loaves of bread into a delivery van. Major Baird notes that the area where Swanson’s truck was attacked has been cleared of all traffic and Sargent Murillo points out how there has not been a truck on this road for two days, so Glen should be getting pretty hungry. Murillo volunteers to drive as he knows this area best. With that the three of them pile into the van and take off down the road. Let Operation: Tainted Bread begin!
After a few wide shots of the van flying down the road, we get a close up of the cab and we see that the vehicle is bouncing around something fierce, no doubt due to Murillo’s driving. Carmichael somewhat testily points out that despite the fact that they are looking for a giant, it doesn’t mean that they don’t value their own lives. Baird chimes in and says that they want Glen to be able to catch them. Murillo confesses that he is driving fast for a reason: the faster they go, the more dust they will create and the further away they will be seen. This strategy seems to work because just a few seconds later, we see a pair of humungus feet following the van, albeit at a rather slow pace. “He’s right behind us,” Major Baird remarks, once again displaying his astute sense of awareness. Murillo guns it even more and warns the other two to be ready to jump out and run when they reach a clearing up ahead.
You know, for a giant, Glen is really a slow ass. At the beginning of the movie we are shown the young man Miguel as he pilots Mr. Swanson’s truck in a manner that would make the Mr. Toad’s Wild ride at Disneyland seem like a lesson in safe driving techniques. Though we don’t know this at the time, Miguel is desperately trying to escape Glen, who is following on foot. We see several shots of the truck careening down the road, a massive dust cloud in its wake. However, many of these shots linger long after the vehicle has passed by and out of frame…and there is no freakin’ sign of a pursuit! In one instance the camera shows us the roadway for a full twenty-four seconds after Miguel has raced by, yet we see nothing! Contrast this to the chase just now. Here we are treated to similar shots of a vehicle flying down the road. In fact, one is nearly identical to a shot from the film’s beginning and the only variable that tells us that it isn’t recycled footage is the fact that the bread van is a different type of vehicle than Swanson’s truck. Now when the bread van passes by, within seconds we see huge feet step into view before moving on, indicating that Glen has given chase. He appears to only be a few yards behind the van – close enough to reach out and grab it, given his size. If he was chasing Miguel at the same pace, then he must have been about five football field lengths to the rear…which makes you wonder why Miguel was acting so desperate.
The van comes to a halt in the clearing and the three men inside run like hell as if expecting it to explode in a fiery ball of twisted metal and freshly baked bread, taking cover behind an enormous boulder. Along comes the Colossal Beast and we see that the full-sized delivery van in the distance has now been replaced by a poorly matted shot of a Tonka toy that doesn’t look much like the original. The Colossal Beast lumbers fully into view and you will be greatly relieved to know ( I sure was) that he is still sporting the gigantic diaper that he was wearing in the first movie. I don’t know exactly how long it has been since he plunged off Boulder Dam, but given the fact that the fall has reduced his mental faculties to the point where he makes an NBA star look like a Nobel Laureate, it is entirely within reason to expect him to have lost whatever meager coverings he once had somewhere along the line. Given the fact that he isn’t wearing said diaper on his head tells us that he hasn’t quite reached retard levels…yet. Of course, since this film was made in the 1950’s, there really was no chance of seeing The Amazing Colossal Dong flopping around across the screen, but I’m thankful nonetheless.
The Colossal Dude grabs the Tonka toy and begins yanking out the bread inside, scarfing it down with all the grace of a starving Hutt. In the midst of his meal he notices the three “wee folk” behind the boulder and approaches them. For their part, Baird, Carmichael and Murillo launch themselves, Olympic runner-style, into a full blown run. The Colossal Beast follows and we soon see that the drugs in the bread are beginning to affect him. We also see that he is no longer carrying the truck. He must have set it down quite gently given the fact that there was no deafening crash of metal and pastries. Sargent Murillo runs across a wide field, but falls partway, somehow knocking himself out. I must assume that he is now unconscious, as that is the only explanation as to why he just lies there while the Colossal Dork stumbles up and, sedatives now kicking in big time, manages to collapse right on top of the poor bastard while Major Baird and Doctor Carmichael watch from a short distance away. Scratch one Mexican Cop. Fade out.
I have a strange question at this point. How in the hell did Glen wipe his ass? It's obvious from the state of his diaper-shorts (the fact that they were not a deep brown in color and stinking to high heaven cuz they were packed with shit) that he was dropping them whenever he had to pinch a loaf, but what did he use for the old polishing job? Did he raid a laundry truck for a supply of bed sheets and quilts that he could use for such a purpose? Or perhaps he just did the deed by the riverbank and then splashed himself with water in a crude imitation of a bidet? Whatever he did, the mere fact that he took steps to keep his shorts free of mud pies suggests that he didn’t degenerate completely into animalistic behavior and still maintained some semblance of humanity. Additionally, he found some way to trim both his finger and toe nails, as they were not long, yellowing dagger-like things that would have made Freddy Krueger cringe. In fact, for someone who had been living in the wilds for months with absolutely nothing, he was in pretty good shape and appearance. He should have been filthy: encrusted with dirt, poop and other things, sporting jagged nails bursting with fungus and producing a smell that could strip paint at five hundred yards.
Next up we see an American television newscaster who informs the viewing audience that the reports of Glen Manning being dead were in error, and that he has in fact been captured in Mexico. He adds that the army plans on conveying him back across the border in a troop transport aircraft. We now quickly dissolve to a member of congress, who is speaking to a reporter. He is blathering on and on about thanking the people of Mexico for their help and cooperation, as well as praising the work of Major Baird, calling it a good job all around. WTF? Good job? A Mexican police officer was flattened into paste! You call that good?! The reporter now asks him what congress plans on doing about “him” now that he is being brought back to the United States. Displaying the keen mental capacities that no doubt got him elected, the congressman asks, “do about whom?” When the reporter mentions the Colossal Man, the congressman says that it is his understanding that the matter does not fall under congressional jurisdiction and that the department of medical research takes over from this point. A whimsical melody plays.
We now cut to an old guy sitting at a desk and speaking into a phone. A name plaque on his desk reads Medical Research. That really is an odd name isn’t it? No doubt he is speaking to the same reporter. He tells him that it is impossible for his department to assume the responsibility of Glen Manning’s feeding and custody. He tells the reporter to check with the Health and Welfare department. A whimsical melody plays.
Now we see a different dork sitting at a different desk in a different office and speaking into a different phone. His name plaque reads Department of Health & Welfare. What is it with these guys and the weird names? Anyway, this guy just passes the buck further, telling the reporter that the matter should be given to congress for action during the current session. A whimsical melody plays.
Guess What? Yep, we have come full circle and are now back in the congressman’s office. It's like we never left. Hell, I don’t even think he’s moved from his desk! He speaks into the phone and repeats that the matter isn’t one for the legislative branch and suggests the reporter talk to the Pentagon. A whimsical melody plays. OK…STOP WITH THE WHIMSICAL MELODIES!! Each time the proverbial buck got passed in this short sequence, the music that popped up made me think I was watching some horrid Disneyesque comedy from the same era. It really did not fit the film at all.
We now cut to the Los Angeles airport where the troop transport containing Glen Manning is circling the field. In the control tower, Major Baird informs the mayor of the city that the plane only has enough fuel for five more minutes. He doesn’t understand why the mayor will not allow the plane to land under the circumstances. The Mayor concocts some bullshit about there not being any facilities in the area than can adequately deal with a giant. I suggest the nearest celebrity wait loss center – those places have had some real porkers in their day. The Major says that when the plane runs out of fuel, it will be coming down whether the mayor likes it or not. The Mayor just says that the aircraft cannot remain on the ground any longer than it takes to fuel it up again, then it must leave. Baird doesn’t know where it is supposed to go, as the army needs time to figure out what they’re going to do with the giant, so he asks about using a warehouse, but the Mayor tries to claim that all the city’s warehouses are located downtown and that moving Manning there would create too much of a problem for the police as well as raising the danger to the public. Baird spots an empty airplane hanger and suggests they use that, but naturally the Mayor balks at the idea. Baird promises that they will not keep Manning there any longer than necessary and that as soon as they have a place to move him, he’ll be out of there. The Mayor grudgingly agrees and the plane is given clearance to land.
How can the Mayor of Los Angeles wield so much power over the military and their efforts to move Glen some place safe? Because of the Mayor, the plane carrying Glen was forced to circle the airport until it was practically sucking fumes and it was only after some serious plea bargaining on Baird’s part (falling just short of dropping to his knees and sucking him off) that the cranky old fart agreed to let the army house Manning in an empty hangar. I just cannot see a civic figure being so influential under the circumstances. I know in theory the armed forces are beholden to civilian authorities, but I just cannot help but think that if something like this were to actually happen, the Feds would have forced everyone out of LAX at gunpoint before bringing Manning in, and if the Mayor had caused too much of a fuss, he would have quietly met with some sort of grooming accident – the type were one inadvertently decapitates oneself when shaving with a machete.
We get some footage of the plane as it taxis about the runway after landing. Once shot shows it’s large forward doors opening, revealing it’s sizable cargo space. My question at this point is this: where the f*ck is the Colossal Man? Given the size at which the film has shown him to be, coupled with the dimensions of the plane, and I’d expect to see a giant pair of feet or the shining top of his bald head when those cargo doors opened, but what we see is…nada.
After an establishing shot of the empty hangar, we then get an interior view where we see that the Colossal Man is stretched out on the world’s biggest mattress, with ropes securing him in place. He seems upset and is making the same annoying guttural moans that he always makes, which really do remind me of a toad being slowly squeezed to death in a vice. Joyce Manning arrives at the office located within the hangar and asks Major Baird why Glen is being kept at the airport. Baird says he is keeping her brother there until Washington decides what to do with him. Joyce thinks he should be in a hospital receiving treatment, but Baird has to point out the obvious – there are no hospitals that big. Joyce mentions some chemical concoction that was used in the first movie, but Baird points out that it only halted Glen’s growth and did not reverse it.
The Major now walks out into the hangar where Doctor Carmichael is jotting down notes. The Doc asks about keeping Glen tied up and Baird replies that he has to play it safe and cannot afford to let him loose. Carmichael and Baird now call out to Glen, saying his name, but all the big guy does is thrash against his restraints and groan a lot. The Doc and the Major head back into the office while Glen struggles so hard he lets out a huge fart that clouds the air. Wait…that wasn’t a fart clouding the air…it’s Glen having a flashback!!! Cue harp music….
We have now time traveled back to the first movie when Glen was much smaller, had hair, both eyes and was played by a different actor. We see the sequence where he runs out, trying to help the pilot of a downed airplane (who had the supreme misfortune of crashing in the area of a bomb test) and gets caught in the blast of the “new” plutonium bomb. That fades away and we then see Glen, now getting quite large, taking stock of the tiny furniture in his hospital room. Realizing that he has not awakened to find himself stuffed into dollhouse – the victim of a practical joke – along with the fact that he looks disturbingly similar to Mr. Clean…and one can see why he starts screaming. I know I’d start hollering up a storm if I awoke to find all my hair gone.
These memories seem to have a calming effect on Colossal Beast-Glen, whom we see briefly before another barrage of stock foot…er…memories assaults us. We see Glen moaning to his fiancée about growing and then literally stomping off back to the circus tent he calls home where he tries to read a book about the size of his thumbnail. Then we see Glen stomping around Las Vegas – getting shot at, throwing trees and cars at people, destroying landmarks and generally being a colossal pain in the ass. Next we see his fiancée and some other guys cornering him in the desert and using a huge needle, stick his ankle and inject him with their chemical brew…only to have Glen grab the needle and throw it dart-like at one poor bastard – who ends up impaled to the ground, and finally, Glen traversing Boulder Dam, getting nailed by bazooka fire and stumbling towards the edge…
End pointless flashback
The memories of that fateful dive are apparently more than Glen can handle and he struggles some more against his bonds, only this time he succeeds in getting them loose. A bunch of soldiers try to throw the big ropes back over him but are unable to do so. All the commotion brings Joyce, Baird and Carmichael, the former calling to her brother to stop. The soldiers get in a ridiculous tug-of-war with Glen, about twenty of them pulling on one end of the huge rope while he single handedly yanks the opposite end. Finally the rope snaps and Glen is free. All the soldiers run like hell as Glen crawls to the hangar doors and exits.
Once outside he takes a tour of the airport, while Major Baird organizes his troops, sending them out to drive Glen away from the planes by using tear gas. Doctor Carmichael suggests using anesthetic instead and heads off to find some. Joyce now begins to spaz out, fearful that Baird will kill Glen, which the Major readily admits he will do before allowing the Colossal Dork to get loose amongst “a million people.” He has some nameless Sargent escort Joyce back to her hotel room.
Outside, Glen is soon spotted by people who begin marveling at the giant. After Glen peeks into the control tower and scares the shit out of a woman there, the army soldiers arrive and begin firing their guns….against direct orders from Major Baird. People are running around everywhere while the morons continue to fire, creating more havoc and doing nothing but pissing off the Colossal Dork. At one point Glen sticks his fist through the roof of a building, startling a group of baggage handlers and dropping debris down upon them as his oversized hand drops in and reaches around for something to squish.
Elsewhere Major Baird orders all the planes at the airport into the air, which includes a bunch of Airforce jets at one end of the field. We are now shown footage of pilots scrambling for their jets, taking off and flying holding patterns in the sky…at some other airport. It sure isn’t LAX we see, as there isn’t a palm tree in sight, or any other indication of a city being nearby. Meanwhile, Glen is still walking around the airport and we see crowds of soldiers and civilians milling about, looking at him. WTF? Why are these civilians still here? Shouldn’t the freakin’ soldiers be escorting these people out of the danger zone? Instead, they’re all just wandering about in one big, confused mass of people. Doctor Carmichael finally arrives on the scene with some anesthetic, which has been placed in a shell of tear gas. He hands it over to Major Baird, who loads it, takes aim at the Colossal Dork and fires…three times. I could have sworn he only loaded a single shell. Anyway, the air around Glen’s colossal head is now thick with fumes and he begins to cough and hack, in addition to that ever present squished toad sound he makes. Remembering the fate of poor Sargent Murillo, everyone stands clear as the big guy collapses to the ground.
At some point later, Baird escorts the Mayor and a General Nelson into the hangar where Glen is back on his giant mattress, only now he has a barrel-sized IV hooked up to him. The Mayor isn’t too happy about Glen’s recent rampage and General Nelson assures him that he has come out from the nation’s capitol for the sole purpose of straightening out the situation. The Mayor asks if “he” is safe now, and Baird explains that he is too weak to break free, having lost a lot of blood during his little sojourn (thus explaining the IV). Additionally, extra precautions have been taken: specially made iron manacles that are secured to large pieces of concrete which themselves have been sunk deeply into the ground, a doubling of the guard, plenty of people on standby duty and someone watching him at every second. The Mayor now wants to know what will happen to Glen eventually, pointing out that he cannot be kept in the hangar for life. General Nelson says that it depends on whether Glen will ever improve. He tosses the matter to Baird, who says that Doctor Carmichael is the one to ask. Luckily, the Doc is just a short distance away.
Doctor Carmichael figures that Glen is suffering from amnesia, in which case they have techniques that will help him recover his memory. On the other hand, if his brain tissue has been damaged, he will be a psychopathic case and a menace until he dies. General Nelson asks if there is a way to determine Glen’s current state, and Carmichael says yes, via some tests. General Nelson has the Doctor get started on the tests, holding off on deciding the big guy’s fate until all the facts are in.
Now we see Joyce on the phone with the Red Cross, trying to procure more blood plasma for her brother. Whoever she is speaking with is balking at her request for ten gallons. She tries to convince them that a man’s life is at stake, but they seem unwilling to change their mind. When she sees Major Baird and Doctor Carmichael enter the room, she asks the latter to speak to the Red Cross people. For some reason, Carmichael just passes the phone to Baird, who takes it and convinces the Red Cross to release the blood. He turns to go but Joyce runs after him so she can thank him and to apologize for her behavior the previous day. He tells her that she looks tired and that she should get some rest. Some playful banter follows and they both leave together – supposedly he is going to see her home. As they leave the hangar, they walk past the snoozing Glen. Once they are gone, Glen stirs and begins pulling at his chains. Fade out.
The following day Doctor Carmichael is showing Joyce their plans for helping Glen. He shows her an electroencephalograph and explains how it will record synaptic impulses. They hope to stimulate Glen’s mind with various ideas and if the gizmo records any reaction from the big guy, they will know that there is a good chance his amnesia can be cured. They wheel the machine out in the hangar where another doctor is examining the sleeping Glen from a crane. Everything is hooked up…including a projector and a large screen suspended over Glen’s head. After some talk about Glen’s physical injuries – how he no doubt hit his head when falling from the dam and sustained those hideous facial scars – they begin the association test. An odd thing about this scene is how the giant electrodes attached to Glen’s head seemingly spring into place within seconds. When we see the one doctor examining him from a crane, they are not in place, yet just a moment later his skull is covered with them. Go figure.
So they start up their slide show and begin showing various images to Glen. Mercifully for both he and us, this isn’t a pictorial series on Carmichael’s latest vacation. That would be mind numbing and potentially cause more brain damage than it would help relieve. They show Glen pictures of where he went to college, the ship that brought him back from Korea and a shot of himself before he adopted the Mr. Clean look. Nothing seems to spark a reaction. The scientists are about to give up when Joyce volunteers to try. The sappy music cues up as she begins shouting to Glen about his childhood, his old bicycle, his first high school date and other things from his youth. Slowly he begins to thrash about and wail as she drones on and on, her plaintive tones increasing in intensity. Finally the doctors lead her away. All this has proved is something we already know – men go into convulsions when women begin to nag them. Duh.
A newspaper headline proclaims that “Giant Fails Last Chance” as if he has been cut from a sports team or something. Major Baird tosses the paper aside and we see him alone with Doctor Carmichael in the hangar office at night. Baird reveals that in the morning the Navy is bringing in a ship to transport Glen to an uninhabited island sixty miles off the coast, which leaves little time to get the colossal dork ready. Carmichael suggests that Baird tell Joyce, so the Major heads over to her place to break the news to her. Meanwhile, Glen continues to secretly pry at his chains and manacles.
At Joyce’s hotel, Baird is explaining that Glen will be well provided for on his little island, as food will be parachuted down to him. No one brings this up, but after a while, wouldn’t the island be littered with used parachutes? At some point, some fool is gonna have to make a trip to collect them. Anyway, Joyce is horrified at the prospect of her brother living out his life on an island, but Baird tries to explain how there just is no place for him in civilized society. Now, if only someone would make the same connection with Yanni.
At the hangar, Glen has managed to pry loose one of his manacles. The sound alerts Doctor Carmichael, who was on his way out. He retrieves a flashlight and takes a look at Glen, but the giant is now feigning sleep. Carmichael leaves and Glen proceeds to free himself further.
Back at Joyce’s hotel, Baird is informing her that the Navy will land an inspection party every month, and knowing Joyce’s wishes ahead of time, he has arranged for her to accompany these groups. Baird goes to leave, but she stops him and thanks him again for all he has done for both Glen and her. She even calls him by his first name. Woo Hoo. Maybe the tense SOB will score some ass after all. Before things can further progress down that particular path, the phone rings. It’s a soldier from the hangar, who informs Baird that Glen has escaped and that Doctor Carmichael is dead. Both the Major and Joyce rush to leave.
How did Doctor Carmichael die? The last we see of him, he is heading out of the hangar where Glen is being detained. The next thing we know, Glen has escaped and when Major Baird asks to speak with Carmichael via the telephone, some flunky says that he cannot because the doctor is dead. Um…how? Did Glen follow him outside and then step on him? Did he pick him up and squeeze really, really hard, resulting in death by squish treatment? Did he grab hold of him with both hands and then proceed to pull in opposite directions? Did he wind up his pitching arm and throw him with all his might at the airport control tower? HOW?!
Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.
After a shot of a policeman putting out an APB on Glen and some footage of police cars racing around L.A. streets, we see Baird and Joyce at his office, where they plan to wait until there is news. Joyce calls the police to see if her brother has been sighted anywhere, but so far no one has seen a sixty-foot tall bald man. I can easily see how such an individual could easily become lost within the crowds of weirdos that populate that region. A quick cutaway shows some military jeeps rolling down the street then we are back in Baird’s office, where the phone rings. Glen has been spotted in Griffith Park. Baird orders that the artillery and infantry be brought in to surround the area, but tells them not to fire until all civilians have been moved from the region …and then only if absolutely necessary.
I find it utterly unbelievable that a sixty-foot tall man could walk from LAX to the Griffith Park Observatory with NO ONE ever seeing him. Sure, it was at night and things are more difficult to see when the sun goes down…but a giant, pasty white, bald guy wearing blue diaper-shorts and sporting a single eye along with some serious scar tissue? Come on! Somebody had to have spotted him. A straight line from the airport leads through Westchester, Culver City, the heart of Los Angeles and Hollywood before reaching Griffith Park, and no one saw him? Yeah right.
Another shot of that cop dispatching cars via the radio now follows, along with scenes showing the police vehicles racing around. Then we see that same TV news anchor from earlier in the film. Amazingly enough, he is wearing that exact same suit and tie that he was sporting a few days back, the same pitcher of water and glass adorns the desk behind him and the light penetrating the window shades casts the same shadows on the wall. The latter is quite strange, considering that it is now NIGHT! More evidence that this guy’s scenes were all shot at once. He warns the public that the Colossal Man is loose and in the Griffith Park area, and tells people to stay way for their own safety.
We cut now to the Griffith Park observatory were a group of Jr. High School kids are leaving after a stargazing field trip. As they exit the building, we see that the ground – like everywhere else the movie has shown us tonight – is quite dry. Then we see a police car drive up to the bus that transported the kids. The ground is now soaked and rain is falling. The cop tells the bus driver to get moving as soon as the kids are all on board. The cop drives off and the kids approach, piling onto the bus. The ground is once again dry as a bone and there isn’t a drop of moisture in the air. Did the filmmakers really think no one would notice that?
At the bottom of the hill, Baird and some cops set up a roadblock on the street that leads up to the observatory. After looking around a bit, he gets on his walkie-talkie and has all the other units activate their searchlights. They begin sweeping the hillside looking for Glen, but he is not to be seen yet. Sometime later the media have arrived and set up their cameras and reporters, who begin telecasting live reports, giving a blow by blow of what is transpiring. The searchlights continue their sweep and at one point we see Glen hiding behind some trees. Next up is a series of shots: Baird pointing at a map and issuing orders, shots of tanks rolling up the hill, soldiers standing slack-jawed and looking up, the searchlight beams passing back and forth over the hillside, Glen moaning and hiding in the trees, jeeps moving along a roadway, more soldiers standing still and so on. Given all this activity and the fact that the news men have had time to arrive and set up shop along with all the other military units, and we can surmise that some time has passed since Major Baird first stopped and picked the spot to set up command.
We return to the top of the hill, where all the kids have boarded the bus except two – Arthur and Laurie. Their teacher is calling for them but they are nowhere to be seen. Now just wait a damn minute! You mean to tell me that the military has had time to set up all their equipment and begin their searchlight sweeps, but these damn kids have not gotten on the bus and left yet? Is this a bus full of gimps or something? We see Arthur and Laurie, who are a ways away talking about stupid stuff – him going up in a rocket and calling her from space. They both hear the teacher shouting for them, but Arthur just says, “Let her call.” They also notice all the searchlights and cannot help but know that something big is going on…yet these two are far too stupid to connect the dots and realize that the reason their teacher is calling them and the reason for all the lights might be very closely related. They certainly are too dense to realize that there may be a factor for extreme danger in the mix. No, they are far too preoccupied with their inane banter to stop and exert some brain power and realize that the teacher is calling them for their own damn good. I know it wasn’t gonna happen, but I was really hoping at this point that the Colossal Dork would get his hands on these two and use them to wipe his colossal ass. Damn kids. Utterly useless, I tell you.
Down below, a TV reporter is interviewing a police officer live on TV. The cop confirms that they were able to get everyone out of the park before anything could happen to them. HELLO?! What about that bus full of gimps…er…kids? You call that getting everyone out? The reporter goes on about how the public really appreciates the cops at a time like this. What is this, a propaganda film for the LAPD? A woman now approaches the police officer and inquires about the bus with the gim…kids. He says that everyone has been checked out of the area, but she says that she cannot find her daughter Laurie and has been waiting for the bus down at the corner. She rattles on about where they live, Laurie needing her sleep and the coat she brought along for her daughter. The cop, no doubt in part to get away from this windbag, goes to check on the status of the bus.
Back up near the observatory, the teacher continues to call for waste of skin number one and waste of skin number two…otherwise known as Arthur and Laurie. The latter finally convinces the former that they should leave. We quickly cut to the bottom of the hill where the cop informs Laurie’s mother that there is nothing to worry about – the bus is still at the top of the hill and seems to be safe. WHAT?! There is a sixty-foot Mr. Clean impersonator running around loose in a giant diaper somewhere up on that hill, known to have already killed one person tonight and this buffoon says that there is nothing worry about? I’d hate to see the situations under which he’d panic! Laurie’s mom asks if she can go up to the bus, but Mr. Moron tells her to stay put.
Returning to the bus, we see the teacher scolding Arthur and Laurie for wasting time and not coming when called. Just as she herds them onto the bus, Arthur spots the Colossal Man walking around nearby. Glen swats at a power line but draws his hand back when he gets a jolt from the electricity. Naturally, the kids all start screaming in unison, which is something kids of any age excel at. Down below, the reporter spots Glen on the hilltop and soon the camera is pointed that way, along with everyone else’s attention. Lots of reaction shots from the people in the crowd now follow.
Major Baird gets on a loudspeaker and calls to Glen, telling him that he is surrounded and imploring him to give up peacefully. Glen just shields his eyes from the searchlights and groans his froggy groan. Lots more reaction shots from the crowd follow as Baird continues his efforts to talk Glen down without having to resort to violence. Tanks take up positions just in case and adjust their aim. The searchlights continue to blind Glen and you can see that it is really starting to piss him off big time. He reaches down and grabs the bus full of gim…kids and lifts it high over his head, brandishing it there as if he is about to hurl it at the people far below manning those annoying lights. Inside the bus, the collective screaming from the herd of unpleasant adolescent shits reaches an all new peak in both intensity and annoyance, which only urged on my desire for Glen to throw the damn bus as hard as he could.
Below, Laurie’s mom begins to spaz out and begs the officer to allow her to go up and help. I have just one question: just what in the hell does she think she is going to do? Bore Glen to death with stories about the laundry? Of course, she is restrained from moving, but when she shouts that somebody has to do something, Joyce overhears this and springs into action. Everyone is so transfixed by the possibility of a bus full of gim…kids flying through the air, that no one notices how Joyce hops in a jeep and tears up the roadway leading to the observatory – at least, no one notices until she has the thing floored, at which point Major Baird calls for her to stop. Fat chance of that happening.
Another sequence of scenes shows us that things continue as they have been while Joyce drives up the road: Glen continues to hold the bus over his head and squints at the bright lights being directed at his face, the morons below continue to shine those lights right at him despite knowing that it was such a move that prompted Glen to grab the bus in the first place, Laurie’s mom continues to clutch her daughter’s coat and call her name while spazzing out, the kids in the bus continue to scream louder and longer than when Elvis took the stage on the Ed Sullivan show and everyone else just stands there watching it all.
Joyce pulls up in front of the observatory and gets out. Glen is standing behind the building with the bus held high over his head – a feat which is simply impossible unless he now has acquired the ability to levitate, as in reality there just is not any place for him to stand there. She begins calling to him and begging for him to listen to her. The kids’ screaming never ceases for a second, so it’s a miracle he can even hear her from such a distance. She repeatedly asks him to put the bus down and finally he seems to listen to her and complies with her request. She now implores him to “try to think,” no doubt trying to reach the man inside rather than the beast without. Finally, something snaps in Glen and he reaches a hand out toward her in recognition. He says her name in a coarse whisper, as if he just finished a ten year cigar smoking marathon.
With head held low, he begins walking away. Joyce calls for him not to go, but he ignores her at first. Then he stops, turns and approaches the power lines that gave him a jolt earlier. He brushes one with his hand and sparks fly. Sensing his intentions, Joyce begins screaming “No, Glen, no!” He reaches out both hands and grabs a hold of the lines and KAPOW! The movie is suddenly in color! That was a hell of a jolt!! Joyce watches on in horror as her brother is electrified to the point where is body utterly vanishes in a haze of red and yellow sparks.
Why does Glen disappear when electrocuted? Is there really that much raw power surging through those lines? Somehow I don’t think so. The guy was totally disintegrated for Pete’s sake. If there really was that much power coursing through those lines, I’m sure it would make all the hairs on a person’s body stand at attention from fifteen blocks away. The entire region would be stricken with cancer, tumors and other weird-ass deformities. Wait! This is Los Angeles after all…I’m sure no one even noticed the three-eyed paperboy or his six-legged dog. They probably assumed he was another aspiring show biz performer. One other thing: what the hell are power lines doing in Griffith Park? There have never been power lines there. At least now there are none. Maybe there were some then…but I doubt it.
By the year 1958, work at American International Pictures, the “studio” founded by former RealArt Production Company sales manager James H. Nicholson and Hollywood lawyer Samuel Z. Arkoff, was in full swing and the small outfit was churning out quick, inexpensive films aimed at the youthful ticket buyer…and in many cases out-scoring the bigger budgeted efforts from major studios at the box office. Pioneering the enduring practice of cashing in on a trend by producing cheap knock-offs, many of AIP’s cinematic efforts were little more than single ideas stretched out to seventy or eighty minutes. Indeed, as was often the case, Nicholson and Arkoff would come up with titles and accompanying movie posters for possible films before commissioning a script. They would show these to distributors and if the response was favorable, the film would get the green light to move into production.
Since the silver screen had already played host to nearly every manner of giant bug or monster conceivable, and attempting a reverse rip-off of Jack Arnold’s The Incredible Shrinking Man, it seemed only natural for AIP to showcase a giant man in a feature film. Thus was born Bert I. Gordon’s The Amazing Colossal Man, which turned out to be a sizeable hit for the studio. Rare amongst 50’s science fiction and horror films, The Amazing Colossal Man was one of a mere handful of films that spawned a sequel. Again, Gordon was brought in to complete this film with his usual frugality applied to everything from sets and location shooting to the FX. The result is War of the Colossal Beast, a film that really doesn’t expand very much on the first movie’s story and even at sixty-nine minutes in length, seems overly padded with stock footage and dialog while suffering from a severe lack of “monster action.”
AIP failed to mention that it was a sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man in the ad campaign, but did go so far as to entice audiences with the prospect of seeing “the Giant Beast electrocuted ... IN COLOR.” This of course led many people to believe that the film was not shot in black and white, whereas in reality less than a minute at the end boasted color. The only returning character from the first movie is that of Colonel Glen Manning, but now he was played by a different actor – a fact disguised somewhat by the make-up applied to Duncan Parkin (who took over for Glen Langan) in order to make him appear more “beastly.” AIP regular Russ Bender returns from the first film, but here the actor is playing a completely different character.
It almost seems hard to believe in this day and age, but there actually was a time when sequels to popular genre movies were not the norm. Most films either succeeded or failed based on their own individual merits and long before this era of the home video market, which has made post theatrical run availability just as profitable if not more so than a film’s original stint on the big screen – and thus leading to the commercial viability of a sequel, very few genre movies in those days saw further celluloid chapters for their monsters and/or characters. One shot was pretty much all anyone got. Well, most of them. There were a few exceptions, like The Gillman from The Creature From The Black Lagoon, who went on to star in two more films or the legacy of The Fly, which was examined further in a pair of sequels of its own. Not to mention the monsters of the Universal studio, who each saw multiple big screen installments back in the 30’s and 40’s. Still, despite such cases it would seem the cinematic rule stating that nine times out of ten a sequel will be worse than its progenitor, was already well in place. Thus it amazes me that War of the Colossal Beast was ever given the green light. Sure, the first film was a modest success for American International Pictures, but of all the films to earn a sequel, why did it have to be The Amazing Colossal Man? Then again, I really did not need to see further films featuring The Blood Beast, Giant leeches, The Wasp Woman or The She Creature.
The others in the film do not fare as well. Swanson is only on screen long enough to get things rolling. Sargent Murillo, while appearing to be friendly and helpful, isn’t around for very much longer himself, exiting the picture after becoming a victim of the “squish treatment.” Doctor Carmichael may be the most sympathetic to Joyce’s cause and does his best to make others view things her way, but he still comes off as wooden, overly clinical and about as lifelike as Al Gore on Prozac. Major Baird seemingly exists for two reasons: to represent the military and society’s trepidation about dealing with Glen, and on a smaller note, a counter balance to Joyce’s optimism. The latter he excels at, practically opposing any and every idea she comes up with and generally being a serious buzzkill. His lack of sympathy for Joyce’s feelings and regard for the bigger picture might have been a subtle (very subtle) stab at the evils of communism where individuality is lost and where devotion to the state comes before any concern for single persons…then again, it may not have been. Either way, he comes off as something of a jerk and it is easy to see why there are no romantic underpinnings to his relationship with Joyce. She has the good sense to rebuff him.
Sadly, the film does not really seem interested in using Glen Manning as a character. Here supposedly is a mindless beast fueled more by instinct rather than intellect. While not exactly a sterling examination of character, the first film at least tried to convey the notion of a man who was grappling with the maddening circumstances in which Glen found himself. Here we are never sure whether Glen has gone completely nuts or is for some unfathomable reason simply refusing to communicate with others. In many of his actions and reactions, it would seem that he is aware of what is transpiring around him, yet choosing to not articulate his thoughts and feelings with any more clarity than his guttural moans will allow. Thus, it is hard to accept him as a mindless animal one hundred percent of the time – there are still small nuances to his behavior that just scream “human.” Accordingly, the film seems to suffer from this clear lack of direction. We can’t view Glen as a monster, only someone who has been dealt some utterly crappy cards in life and who is badly in need of help, so the menace the movie tries to put forth is diminished somewhat.
Annoying Kids - Seen briefly at the end are a pair of adolescents who definitely seem to be the lost poster children for birth control. Plus an entire bus loaded with screaming kids.
Desert Hijinks - There is a lot of running around in the Mexican desert and hills, springing traps for a giant man with the clever use of Tonka toy trucks and subway sandwiches.
Giant Monsters - Though technically Glen is Human, his mind is that of a brutal beast, thus he gets classified as a monster. Because he is sixty feet fall, we label him a giant monster.
Science - "Experts" attempt to jog Glen's memory with an advanced new technical approach...which is nothing more than a slide show and loud screaming. Any teacher could do it.
Stock Footage - Aside from obvious stock shots of planes, tanks and automobiles, a large chunk of the movie’s second act is taken up by extended flashbacks to the first movie.
Violence - For the most part the violence is pretty tame here. One guy gets flattened in a horrible FX shot, another is killed offscreen and there is another death via electrocution.
Times Swanson uses expression “getting the picture”: 5
Times Joyce is near hysterical: 3
Times the audience is near hysterics: At least twice
Intelligible words spoken by Glen (excluding flashback): 1
Burros seen in establishing shots of Mexican locations: 2
Different heights 60 feet appears to be: 5
Games of tug-of-war between Glen and two dozen soldiers: 1
Percentage of movie in color: 0.78%
Percentage of movie made up of recycled footage from first film: 7.9%
Min – I think the credits are chasing him.
Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time Glen makes one of his croak-like wails, take a sip of beer. Any more or anything harder and you risk serious liver damage.
for larger image
Sargent Murillo and Swanson discuss the missing Miguel and truck.
“Have you looked for him?”
Shadow’s Comment: Third base!!!
More idiocy from Baird.
Baird: “How do you reason with a sixty-foot giant?”
Comment: Um…with a six-foot burger, 100 gallons of
beer and IMAX porn.
Film & Me
I think that by the time I was eight years old, I had seen both The Amazing Colossal Man and War of the Colossal Beast more times than any other movie with the possible exception of the original Godzilla. That is not to say that they were particular favorites of mine that I made sure not to miss when they were aired. It is just that in those days before Home Video, Cable TV and On Demand Films, I made sure to watch whatever the local station chose to run. It was either that or not see any horror or science fiction films at all…and that would have been too ghastly a scenario to contemplate. However, by the time I was ten, these films were no longer being broadcast on a regular basis and soon dropped out of sight completely. It was a good twelve years or so before I was able to see them again and I can remember being quite shocked at how unexciting they truly were. Those childhood memories sure did make them out to be more fun than what they were in reality. Still, I would have liked to have owned copies of them, but it wasn’t possible at the time. It wasn’t until this DVD was released just a few months ago that I got my hands on a copy of this film. The first movie is still unavailable on DVD (and it takes a lot for me to invest in VHS these days) due to the complicated situation with AIP films and who ended up owning the rights to them. I can say that I enjoy War of the Colossal Beast more now than I did fifteen years ago, maybe because I have developed a deeper love for crappy films or perhaps simply because as I get older, I tend to cling on to anything that reminds me of my ever distancing youth.
Shadow's rating: Three Tombstones