The Giant Gila Monster

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 THE GIANT GILA MONSTER—-directed by Ray Kellogg. We mention that right off because Kellogg had been a praiseworthy director of visual effects with dozens of impressive credits, and he handled second-unit work on big items such as South Pacific, Cleopatra and Tora! Tora! Tora!  Later he shared directorial credit with John Wayne on The Green Berets (nothing to be proud of) and also took the reins of the cheesy-but-effective camp classic The Killer Shrews, shot back-to-back with this in 1959, both produced by Ken Curtis.

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Now your humble correspondent was lucky enough to meet Ken a few times because he co-starred with my late brother-in-law (Larry Pennell) on Ripcord.  Ken was a wonderful guy, but when I met him (first as kid, later as a teenager) I was more interested that he’d played ‘Captain Dickinson’ in The Alamo, so I didn’t have presence of mind (or good taste?) to bring up this $138,000-budget whooper, featuring a magnified Mexican Beaded Lizard as the title giant, spending 74 minutes wreaking havoc on toy cars and trains, scaring teenagers.

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Don Sullivan as ‘Chase Winstead’

This stars Don Sullivan, Fred Graham, one-time Miss Universe contestant (from France) Lisa Simone and the always good-for-a-chuckle Shug Fisher. Shug co-starred on Ripcord as well, and was a sweet guy, too (and very funny).  Oh, the monster here is dispatched by using a hot-rod packed with nitroglycerin—the time-tested Texan tactic to deal with aggressive reptiles. As the ad’s thundered, “Only Hell could breed such an enormous beast. Only God could destroy it!”

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