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ey, remember that nifty ’50s sci-fi thriller where there’s a monster or an alien or something and the small-town teenagers try to warn the fucking stupid adults but the

fucking stupid adults are just too fucking stupid to listen so the kids have to take matters into their own hands and wind up saving the day, or at least holding the monster or aliens at bay until the cav- alry arrives? (Pauses, catches breath.) Of course you do. It’s called The Blob (1958). No, wait, it’s In- vasion of the Saucer Men (1957). No, no, it’s The Giant Gila Monster (1959). No, it’s... oh, okay, in this case it actually is The Giant Gila Monster. “It all started like an ordinary record hop...” says

the trailer. Well, who among us hasn’t seen an or- dinary record hop go horribly wrong? The tagline, however, is a tad misleading, since the action kicks off several nights before the aforementioned hop, when a young couple parked out in the sticks for a spot of quality time get their car shoved over a cliff by... something. (Say what you will about kids get- ting killed for having sex in 1980s slasher films, but these two never even got to first base. Harsh!) When aspiring singer-songwriter and natural born leader Chase Winstead (square-jawed 1950s TV and B-movie footnote Don Sullivan) can’t convince local grownups that the missing couple didn’t just up and elope, he finds one rather unlikely adult ally: the local sheriff (Fred Graham). But it’s too little too late. Before long, we witness the titular beastie – played by a real lizard – crawling around the countryside, knocking over toy vehicles, crushing flimsy-looking miniature buildings and, in one cru- cial money shot, derailing a model train. Trouble is, our monster doesn’t get much screen

time, which really isn’t all that surprising since the poor dear looks pretty bored. Hence, we’re treated to a lot of painful dialogue, teenage hot-rod footage and, in one particularly ass-spasm-inducing se- quence, Chase grabbing a ukulele to serenade his crippled little sister with “The Mushroom Song” – all of which may explain the film’s scant 74-minute runtime. But eventually shit gets real and the “or- dinary” record hop is disrupted when a certain


an average adult length of about two feet, they’re bigger than any lizard any sensible person would want to tangle with (assuming that tangling with lizards is your thing to begin with); they’re aggressive, venomous, strong for their size and pretty damn gnarly all around. The catch? They’re slooowww. According to one Dr. Ward (no first name given) in Arizona Graphic’s September 23, 1899, issue, “I have never been called to attend a case of gila monster bite, and I don’t want to be. I think a man who is fool enough to get bitten by a gila monster ought to die. The creature is so slug-

butt-ugly monstrosity, quadruple the size of a trac- tor-trailer, crashes the party by ramming its head through an outside wall. Chase and the kids are im- mediately galvanized into action, although anti- spoiler protocol prohibits me from detailing much more. (Hint: At one point, Chase hops into his jalopy, guns the engine and instructs his girlfriend, “Hang onto that nitro! We’re cuttin’ across this field!”) “So,” the reader’s inner voice now asks, “how

badass are standard issue, regular-size gila mon- sters in real life?” According to most readily avail- able info, they’re accomplished predators, indigenous to desert regions of the southwestern US and northern Mexico. They’re not giant, but at

gish and slow of movement that the victim of its bite is compelled to help largely in order to get bitten.” Re- search is currently being conducted on gila monster saliva, which apparently has certain properties that could be used to treat Alzheimer’s. Speaking strictly for myself, if given the opportunity to ingest gila drool, I’d probably opt for the dementia. The Giant Gila Monster has been sarcastically

sauteed in the accustomed fashion on Mystery Sci- ence Theater 3000, although it’s not among that crew’s more inspired performances, so you’re bet- ter off doing your own heckling with an unmolested version (if you can find one). Now, get the hell out of my basement, before this record hop takes a turn for the tragic.

Cold-Blooded Killer by John W. Bowen

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