402. The Giant Gila Monster (1959)

“I type whenever I type whenever I type…” Today’s tune? The Giant Gila Monster (1959). “Here it comes…” “Walking down the street…” “Eating any teens it wants to eat!!!” “Hey! Hey! It’s a monster!!!” “He keeps on monstering around…” “He keeps on wrecking hot rods…” “Whenever they’re around!!!” Driving, racing, “It’s like ringing the dinner bell for” goodness “sake!” Thing With Two Heads, Sitcom Radio, Renaissance Festival Punching Bags, Joel’s Pavilion Barbershop, Classic Drunks, Servo Movie Critic, Hee-La. “Roasted. It’s god-roasted for great taste”, “I usually don’t touch cheeks on the first date”, “Bad movie? You’re soaking in it!” “Is it safe?” or “There might be giants”?

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Stupid Jerk Sketch.

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Mystery Science Theater Hour Wraps on The Giant Gila Monster (1959).

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It’s a black and white monster movie, so of course I love this one. I could probably do without the singing, but it fuels good riffs, so maybe it balances out? Joel’s voiceovers for the monster are a great running gag.

Hang on a second… a news report told me that the infamous Torme Gang just escaped from prison at the same time a meteorite exploded in the Van Allen Belt during a rare astrological alignment on the anniversary of the disappearance of the evil tycoon. I’m sure that’s not relevent to me.

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This is one of my comfort-food episodes. Just a fun movie with some good riffing. I love those old monster movies where the adults are all perplexed, but those crafty teens- the ones everyone thinks are punks- the ones that probably buy tickets to B-monster movies- know what’s up!

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They pick on the guy’s authority and jurisdiction, but the sheriff in this film seems like one of the most fair and even ones in any MST movie to me.

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Apparently back in the 1950s and 1960s, Texas oil tycoons invested their earnings in the making of locally produced B movies as a form of tax dodge. The Giant Gila Monster is the first of many of these sorts of films to be screened on MST3K. As is the case for any giant monster movie, there’s goings-on with the human characters. But what that might be is hard to say due to the horrible audio quality. The production’s boom mike was either defective or improperly assembled, assuming they even had one. As a result, the dialogue ranges from badly muffled to impossible to understand.

One recurring oddity involves the blocking, specifically the unnatural-looking poses such as propping up a foot on a table or chair and leaning forward. The possibility that so many of the actors had the same back problems as Jonathan Frakes seems unlikely.

The title monster itself is not all that impressive. Aside from a few shots with some obvious models, there’s never any sense of scale. At least Bert I. Gordon had the ambition to have human characters be seen together with his giant creatures, however inept the end result. As a final insult, it isn’t really a Gila monster, but a Mexican beaded lizard. Sad, really.

In my estimation, the last comical drunk in an American production was Corky in Tales of the Gold Monkey.

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I wonder why they didn’t riff on the fact that lizard isn’t a gila monster? Maybe they didn’t know.

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Happy Joel Mchale GIF by ABC Network

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402 Promos.

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Adam West intro to The Giant Gila Monster (1958) on Turkey Day Marathon 94.

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I sing whenever I sing whenever I sing!

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The Blob (1958) equation.

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Turkey Day 92 Intro to The Giant Gila Monster (1958) with Frank and Trace.

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This episode was one of the few I snagged for myself off The Mystery Science Theater Hour and that VHS got a workout though college. It just hit all the right buttons for me: goofy monster, relatable riffs, annoying enough to stick in your memory. It’s still one I won’t turn down. I could wax rhapsodic about those skid marks, but I know what you’re going to say…

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Memories. “Now Back To The Giant Gila Monster” from Turkey Day 93.

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They confused a kinkajou for a lemur. Zoology hasn’t historically been their strong point.

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Me? I LOVED this one (big surprise, right?).

There’s a nostalgia factor bound up in this one. It’s one of a few MST3K episodes that were among the first that I discovered, thanks to the Mystery Science Theater Hour. (Space Travelers would be another such episode, but so we’re clear that I’m trying to be fair, Space Travelers isn’t quite as amazing as this next episode in the series, The Giant Gila Monster.)

Anywho, this is the sweet spot. It’s that hokey, goofy, silly '50s sci-fi hokum that I -heart- so much. It helps a lot that our hero Chase is a wannabe Elvis, complete with ridiculous musical moments that make for great riffing, whether it’s ALL THE VARIATIONS on “I Sing Whenever I Sing Whenever I Sing,” the unamused reactions of his family to “The Mushroom Song” (Joel over a shot of Chase’s little sister looking angry: “She’s trying to wish him into the cornfield right now”), or the antics at the barn dance (Crow: “He brought the party to a complete halt!”).

In particular, the giant gila monster comes through big here, as you would expect. Joel gives us one of the series’s best recurring bits with THAT VOICE for the gila monster. His “LALALALALA” makes it all hilarious, but there’s even more to it than that. Like at the end, when Gila sees his fate coming down the pike, Joel says “I saw this comin’ a long way away”, and it’s funny as hell. Which is to say nothing about “Ah, don’t drink that! That’s my urine, I don’t even do that!” Just brilliant ventriloquism for the character.

I love all the busting on the Leg Up Position™, Chase’s French girlfriend (Joel as Chase: “Huh? French people sure do kiss funny”), the easily flummoxed sheriff and the jerkass who’s after his badge, the town drunk (Joel: “Looks like he’s filling the bottle!”), the nonsensical goofball radio DJ, and the appearance of those old cars with an accompanying humming of the Munsters theme.

What helps here is that the movie is actually pretty fun to watch by itself. I have an unMSTed copy, as a matter of fact, and it does make for great Halloween viewing, incidentally. But yeah, throw in all those expertly crafted riffs, and you’ve got something MAGICAL.

It’s one of those perfect relaxation episodes. While it’s not the out-and-out best of the best of the best, it’s still great for repeat rotations, especially for late-night viewing.

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On the host segment side of things?

THIS EPISODE IS HELLA STRONG.

Love Joel getting snippy about Crow and Servo refusing to play along with his soda shop sketch, the “that escalated quickly” conversation about funny drunks, Crow and Servo as the Thing with Two Heads, Frank’s announcement of Dr. Forrester’s passing, but the real gem?

THE SERVO ON CINEMA HOST SEGMENT :smiley:

It’s probably for the best that MST3K didn’t run with recurring premises for host segments to keep the show fresh and lively, but I wouldn’t have minded seeing other installments of that show where Joel and Crow run roughshod over Servo’s refined cinema criticisms.

And Dr. Forrester getting miffed at Frank sneaking a fan letter onto the SOL? Oh, bless, but that’s something fantastic…

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I didn’t know, either. :open_mouth:

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