Back when I was but a wee bairn, this movie played on our local UHF channel every month or two. I was always fascinated with it, as only a five or six year old can be. Then we moved away, and I never saw it again until this week.
PLAY BY PLAY
It’s 1965, and we’re subjected to very long blue-filtered footage of “Teens” dancing (Average age: 24. One of the girls is clearly pushing 30) in slow motion while the opening credits roll. This goes on for - conservative estimate - two hours. From this we cut to the aftermath of a car accident in which six horny, drug-fueled wayward youth spill out of a wrecked vehicle like clowns out of a clown car, and then dance in the mud, and lick each other for - conservative estimate - about another two hours. The girls are all pretty attractive and not shy about showing it, and they’re wet and rolling around in the mud, and licking things, so don’t get me wrong: I’m totally on board with all this, but we’re ten minutes into the movie before the back-to-back dancing scenes end? Interesting choice.
So our drug-crazed wayward youth wander into the nearby hick town, which, though clearly a hick town, evidently has a go-go so happenin’ that they came all the way in from California to froog there, or whatever the hell it is wayward drug-addled “Teens” did in 1965 on nights when Lost in Space wasn’t on. The leader of the horny, wet, oversexed, implied-to-be-orgytastic-though-we-never-actually-see-anything teens is Beau Bridges, by the way. He later went on to play “General Landry” in Stargate.
Meanwhile, in Hicktown, Tommy Kirk - who starred in “Moon Pilot,” and played Joe Hardy in the ‘50s Disney “Hardy Boys” series, He was also in “Mars Needs Women,” showing how far his career had sunk in just two years - is making out with his girlfriend. They never mention her name, and as such I’m unable to figure out who she is from IMDb. In fact, though everyone in this movie *has* a name in the credits, I’m not really sure why they bothered. There’s no characterization here, your average haiku is longer than the script was, and the girls were clearly chosen not for their speaking parts, but their bobbly parts (And oh, do they bobble!) Wasting the time thinking of names for people seems oddly odd, I guess. I had a gag for that, but I sort of lost it while I was writing. Oh well. Anyway, the only names that get used are “Mike,” “Genius,” “Red,” and “Horsey.”
Anyway, so 24-year-old Tommy Kirk is somehow still a teenager, and his unnamed girlfriend is making out with him, and her kid brother, “Genius” (Ron Howard) interrupts them, babbling about scientific stuff in a manner that made me wish Billy Mumy had gotten the part instead. They go down into the lab, and Genius accidentally creates some “Goo” that causes their cat to grow to elephant size. They pretty much ignore this, and go feed goo to the geese. The geese grow to moa-moa size http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moa and Tommy gets all excited because giant animals means an endless food supply for the world “With no significant increase in expenses” (Excepting the grain to feed ‘em all, that is) and they decide to go to the Go-Go to celebrate.
The sex-crazed drug-fueled nihilistic delinquent teens are in town by this point, having found an abandoned theater and cleaned up. They head to the go-go as well (Seriously, did people in the ‘60s feel as stupid saying that word as I do writing it? Probably not. They were people who thought David Crosby was cool, after all) and we’re subjected to yet more extended dancing scenes and two, count ‘em, two musical numbers by “The Beau Brummels,” a band which later appeared on The Flintstones http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_beau_brummels Then the geese turn up (Which in many societies is regarded as the traditional end of the evening). Tommy Kirk starts bragging about how the secret behind the geese is worth a million bucks, and the drug-crazed sex-fueled teens decide to steal it because, hey, who doesn’t want a million dollars?
So General Hank Landry stars putting the moves on Tommy Kirk’s unnamed girlfriend, and he sends one of his scantily-clad female sex slaves to go mack on Kirk for a bit so she can get the secret. The Unnamed Girlfriend - no, wait, that’s confusing as all the girlfriends in this movie are unnamed - Tommy Kirk’s girlfriend questions Beau Bridges dancing with her while his also-unnamed girlfriend is in the room, but Bridges reassures her that it’s not like that at all: she’s not his girlfriend, she’s just one of several attractive blonde strippers with whom he’s involved in a Manson-style relationship, so there’s really nothing untoward there. Reassured, they dance some more. Kirk and Blonde Stripper Chick #3 make out for a bit, and in a surprising twist, he refuses to give her the secret by saying “The price is right, but you’re just a little too eager to pay it.”
Did I mention Toni Basil is dancing in a cage in the go-go? Yeah, she’s in the movie, too. She’s old. She was like forty when “Mickey” came out.
Uhm…so Tommy and whatshername are out doing stuff, and Genius is working on recreating the formula. His dog grows huge (Which is one of those things that sounds filthy, but probably isn’t), and there’s a giant cat running around, theoretically, but everyone seems to have forgotten about that. Tommy and Girlfriend get attacked by a giant tarantula that ate some of the leftover formula because, as everyone knows, taratulas, unlike all other spiders, apparently eat non-live food. And growl. Yeah, sure. More likely, the Producer just new a good bug-wrangler.
Just the same, this is a neat little scene that I remembered almost note-for-note: Tommy manages to electrocute the monster, then they go to barbeque their geese. (Man, who got the job of slaughtering them? That must’ve been spectacularly dangerous, and probably pretty bloody. They’d have to have used a chain saw…) Everyone’s enjoying freakishly huge bird, and all the girls are walking around in bikinis, and there’s not a fat chick in town, though Toni Basil’s legs aren’t really as good as you’d expect. One or two of the sex slave girls are pretty neato-looking however.
The Bridges gang breaks into Genius’ lab and steals the remaining goo. They head back to the theater, and in the most lunkheaded decision ever filmed, they decide that rather than sell the formula and making a million bucks - which was the reason for stealing it in the first place - they’ll just eat it instead and see what happens. No, really! Around this time - more than a third of the way through the film - Kirk’s best friend Horsey shows up as though he’s been in the film all along. He’s played by the kid who played “Mark” on “The Rifleman,” and at nineteen, he’s the one authentic ‘kid’ in the film. (Ron Howard, as everyone knows, is played by a 300-year-old elf) Meanwhile, Tommy Kirk sings a full song for no readily-apparent reason.
There follows a surprisingly effective (But still terrible) and kinda’ lurid ‘growing’ scene where all the girls’ clothes pop off. They’re all naked in the theater, and suddenly “The girls are worried about their modesty.” That does seem out of character, since they’ve really been driving home the whole ‘tramp’ thing. Curiously, the ’Billy’s in the can, so I guess I’ll have sex with you’ nature of the group is suddenly gone and all the giants are paired up. Anyway, they make the gayest-looking clothes ever out of curtains and old set decorations and stumble into town.
They declare themselves in charge, and quickly shut down the local sheriff and his sidekick, Rance Howard (Who later went on to play John Sheridan’s dad in “Babylon 5”) and then they dance in slow motion for several minutes. No, really, it’s the same scene we saw in the opening credits, only without the blue filter, and it’s even longer. “Horsey” gets picked up and stuffed in the cleavage of one of the interchangeable giant strippers. (That must’ve been an interesting budgeting meeting: “I’m gonna’ need a fifteen-foot rack…”) The giants put Kirk to work bringing them chicken (KFC), and he tries several completely ineffectual means of defeating them. Suddenly another giant shows up.
I don’t mean like “Jolly Green and Polyphemus walk into town,” I mean there is suddenly a new giant chick whom we’re supposed to believe has been in the whole movie, despite the fact that there have clearly only been six of ‘em up until now, and all the girls are blonde. The new spontaneously-generated giantess is brunette, and, again, she’s pretty neato. I like brunettes, I have a thing for tall chicks, she shows a lot of skin and I like a lot of skin, so really what’s not to like? It’s amazingly weird, though.
Kirk tries to take down Bridges with a slingshot, and fails miserably, and is about to get killed when Ron Howard rides in and saves the day (As he so often does). Everyone shrinks to normal size, Kirk beats up Bridges, the drug-fueled sex-crazed former-giants are run out of town, and en rout pass a throng of midgets heading to hickville to get some goo so they can no longer be midgets. Really.
The closing credits are the slo-mo dancing sequence shown in its entirety for a third time.
The is every bit as bad as I expected it to be, but it was really interesting the flashbacks I had while watching it, and more to the point all the stuff I don’t remember. I don’t remember the dancing or the smoochey-smoochey, for instance, presumably because I was like five, and just got bored and left the room when that came on. I do, however, very vividly remember talking to some of the ‘big kids’ from the neighborhood about the movie that night, and one of them saying “There used to be a TV series called like ‘village of the giants’ or ‘land of the giants’ or something. I was intrigued and wanted to know more, but he couldn’t remember. Imagine my disappointment when I finally saw that series 15 years later and realized that not only was it not at all related to this movie, but that it did not even have dancing giant strippers in slo-mo.
It did have Deanna Lund, however, and that covers over a multitude of Irwin Allen-related sins: http://www.uncleodiescollectibles.com/html_lib/deanna-lund/00002.html Seriously, dude, hubba-frackin’-hubba!
I did really like this movie as a kid, though, I must’ve seen it six times, and the spider scene was still surprisingly good, though somehow the spider corpse (And the cat) is just mysteriously gone from the story as soon as the writer forgot about ‘em. At the same time, the Giant Brunette and several other characters appear just as mysteriously as soon as the writer realized he forgot to include them from the start, so I guess it balances out.
Producer Bert I. Gordon specialized in “Giant thingies” movies, such as “Empire of the ants,” “Food of the Gods” (This movie, by the way, claims to be based on the novel “Food of the Gods”), Earth vs. The Spider (I can only assume the spider attack in this film was an in-joke), War of the Colossal Beast, and The Amazing Colossal Man. There’s a lot more flesh in this one than any of his previous/subsequent films. (For the record, I do genuinely like his “The Magic Sword.”)
This movie clocks in at a scant 81 minutes of which 18 or so are that damn slomo-dance sequence shown three times. We’ve got three complete songs, between seven and ten minutes of hot over-sexed chips dancing around in the mud (Again: I’m totally on board with that), several minutes of leering shots, and two lengthy Toni Basil dance sequences. Strip all that crap out, and the movie would run about forty-five minutes by my conservative estimate. “Padded out” doesn’t even begin to sum it up.
I’m pretty sure Ron Howard shot all his scenes on the same day. I’m pretty sure they couldn’t get Billy Mumy.
So where the heck are Tommy or his girlfriend’s parents? I mean, the story takes place over the course of three or five days, and at no point does anyone turn up to check un on either of them, or offer any kind of supervision.
Oddly, there’s a message to this film: Authority is to be feared. The giants hate authority, and their first order of business as the new colossi is to oppress the oppressors, and make the adults go to bed early. No, really. They’re not content to get free chicken and coke and have giant literally-earthshaking sex all day long, noooooooo, they want to take away the adult’s music as well. (They actually say this.) So the oppressed become the oppressors, and have to be taken down. There’s a weird little undeveloped subtext about how one can be in the same group, but not have the same beliefs, as the local kids want nothing to do with the giants’ new utopia.
Beau Bridges has a very interesting delivery and style of emoting in this film. It’s a bit Peter Fondaesque, and he’s trying really hard to undersell everything. In a better movie, it’d work, but he’s the only one really trying here. He clearly thinks it’s a big career opportunity.
I don’t want to seem indelicate or anything, but…uhm…they’re eating bushels of chicken and drinking gallons of coke continually. How are they going to the bathroom? *Where* are they going to the bathroom? (“Well, it’s fair certain no one will ever live in the old McGillacuddy house ever again…”) Also, I can’t help but assume that after several days eating nothing but fried foods, wearing the same togas and bikinis, and pooping in the woods, these folk are probably pretty ripe. Also, sure, it’s all cute and arousing when they’re 30-feet tall and sticking you in their cleavage, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize those brobdignagian babes are gonna’ get brobdignagian stubble pretty quick…
WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS MOVIE?
Assuming one doesn't hold a grudge against Ron Howard for openly supporting Obama, sure! It's even got a minor message about how youthful rebellion is wrong. Plus: hot scantily clad chicks dancing around wet in the mud!
This movie was the subject of an MST3k experiment: