Giant From the Unknown

I was hoping to get this review out a few days earlier, but I didn't.  Shit.  It happens.  The string of heavenly b-movies produced in the 50's was just about to go kaput by the end of the decade, but there were still a few winners to be hatched.  For instance, you have 1959's The Monster of Piedras Blancas.  It's golden.  1958's Giant From the Unknown is...bronze?  It's nothing special, I grant you, but I couldn't hate it.  At least the storyline is whacked.  The grave of a centuries-dead Spanish conquistador is yawped by an electrical storm.  A lightning bolt disturbs his tomb, rousing the 6-foot-7 "degenerate" to leave his casket and plunge into a killing spree.

The actor behind Jack Pierce's make-up was actually 6-foot-7.  Trivia, bitches!  His name was Buddy Baer, and he was a professional boxer (not to mention the uncle of Max Baer Jr., who you might know as Jethro Bodine).  A word on horror legend Pierce, if I may.  He fortified his reputation applying make-up to the Universal monsters.  While his work here isn't bad by definition, it's certainly lacking.  My guess is that he wanted as much of Baer's performance to beam through as possible, but I want my monsters to look like monsters.  Yes, I'm nitpicking.  Monsters are my vocation, so I'm tough on them.  I assure you that it's tough love.

Let's see how many usages of "monster" I can cram into the rest of this disquisition.  As charming as Giant tends to be (I'll expound on this later if you mind your peas and queues), it does take its sweet time digging up its undead, armor-clad conqueror.  The exposition is pleased with itself.  And yeah, that's grating, but again, the whole thing charmed the Bermuda bloomers off of me.  Why, my jodhpur boots nearly kicked off in the prevailing winds of stupefaction!  I'm overselling, but I do find reels of this ilk to be amiable.  I was willing to brave the dry first half, and I don't recommend Giant to those without the same comportment.

Once the action picks up steam, our creature feature becomes an easier sit.  I have to hand it to screenwriters Ralph Brooke and Frank Hart Taussig for piecing a legitimate climax together.  Is it heart-stirring?  Is it as suspenseful as pissing with a kidney stone?  No.  No, no, no...nothing is that suspenseful.  However, the resolution presents as an honest-to-Dionysus battle.  I dug it.  People die, man.  The discovery of Indian Joe's hanging cadaver is surprisingly effective.  Um, about Indian Joe.  He's a carelessly, blunderingly racist character played by a white motherfucker.  I know I should have expected as much, but these itty-bitty issues instantly make the viewer dumber.  The film is also inclusive enough to feature pockets of sexism.  Why can't America be this great again???

Damn, that's a closing sentence if I've ever read one.  I'm ruining it.  So Giant From the Unknown!  It's a flawed, somewhat pedestrian drive-in spangle that I enjoyed a little more than most cult freaks would.  Robert Z'Dar says, "C'mon, Dom.  You're making Indian Joe shed a tear.  Go Redskins!"

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