The Giant Gila Monster (1959)

giant gila monster poster 1959 movie
1.5 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 1/10
Visuals: 1/10


Goofy low budget film

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Giant Gila Monster

Studio:  McLendon-Radio Pictures Distributing Company

Genre(s):  Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  June 25, 1959

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Who’s that creeping around this dusty town!

When a young couple disappears, the local sheriff named Jeff (Fred Graham) and hot-rod tow-truck operator named Chase Winstead (Don Sullivan) question if they could have possibly run away.  Unfortunately, the truth is much more dangerous and horrifying.  The dusty town is being menaced by a monster…a giant gila monster!  The massive poisonous lizard is hungry and only Chase can stop it!

Directed by Ray Kellogg, The Giant Gila Monster was a B-Movie sci-fi horror film that was also a genre mash-up with a car movie.  The low budget film was originally planned as a double-feature with The Killer Shrews and was shot in Texas.  The movie has gained a cult following over the years and was feature on Mystery Science Theater 3000’s fifth season (MST3K 5-2).

The Giant Gila Monster is one of those films you go into knowing it is bad, so you hope it is fun-bad.  Fortunately, the movie is.  With a really slow, big lizard crawling over scale models, the movie is cheesy goodness.


Hey Daddy-O, once we finish this swinging sock-hop, we have a giant lizard to destroy!

The story has a lot of stuff going on.  The movie can’t decide if it is a hot-rod movie or a horror film (plus, music built in).  Apparently the people of Texas just think every time there is a car wreck, everyone just wanders off from the wreck, but they are pretty quick to believe in a gila monster growing to gigantic size and menacing the town.  I also enjoy in the film how the character are rather unaffected by the death of their friends and loved ones…beside one or two lines of sadness, they’re over it!

The cast is a bunch of nobodies.  Fred Graham who played the sheriff in the film had appeared in a few other movies in supporting roles including Vertigo (where he fell to his death at the beginning of the film).  Ken Knox plays Steamroller Smith and was an actual DJ in the area and worked for the executive producer Gordon McLendon (who also supplied family members for the film).


Mmmm it’s like a giant baked potato!

The special effects for the movie are also horrible (but expected).  The movie just involves said giant monster walking over a set and attacking small scale model set.  The sets aren’t very good and gila monsters aren’t the fast creatures around…but most report that this isn’t even a gila monster but a Mexican beaded lizard (if you can’t believe a B-Movie title, what can you believe?!?)

The Giant Gila Monster is a great movie to watch with a group and make fun of throughout.  It was the perfect choice for Mystery Science Theater 3000 because despite being bad, it is still a fun film.  The movie is in public domain and often available in multi-movie packs, but also has been released as an individual film on DVD.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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