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Giant from the Unknown [cheesy monster movie]

   

Giant from the Unknown (1958) starring Ed Kemmer, Sally Fraser, Morris Ankrum, Buddy Baer

Reanimated by lightning, a nasty Spanish Conquistador comes back to life and goes on a rampage. He’s the Giant from the Unknown.

Review

In short, Giant from the Unknown is a slow-paced, fairly boring creature feature from the 1950’s. The basic story has a small town, where mysterious killings have been going on. Very vicious killings, with bodies torn apart. There’s a threatening Native American …. But he’s not the culprit.

Soon, an older scientist, his lovely daughter, and a young man working on his thesis are all looking for artifacts. The scientist has a theory that Spanish Conquistadors were in America hundreds of years ago, and enslaved the Native American population, before disappearing. And while hunting, thanks to the daughter, they stumble upon the evidence. And, the younger scientist has shared an amazing discovery — a lizard brought back to life by lightning! Shades of Godzilla

Soon enough, the magical lightning has done its’ work, and the “giant” conquistador is revived, and goes on a killing spree. This doesn’t happen until halfway through the movie. And the “giant” is about six feet tall.

Conclusion

If you’re wondering what caused the various cattle mutilations as the beginning of the film …. Keep on wondering. It couldn’t have been Vargas, and isn’t addressed again. In short, Giant of the Unknown is slow-paced, low-budget, with moments of very wooden acting. I recently watched it on Tubi for free. I certainly wouldn’t have paid to see it. It’s a fine popcorn movie to watch with friends and mock mercilessly.

Cast

  • Ed Kemmer (Earth vs. the Spider) as Wayne Brooks. Handsome young protagonist scientist, working on his thesis. He goes with the scientist & his daughter on their search for artifacts.
  • Sally Fraser (War of the Colossal Beast) as Janet Cleveland. The scientist’s beautiful young daughter. Are there any other kind in these movies? She nearly talks her father into giving up the search. But, she accidentally leads them to the Conquistador’s graveyard shortly after. She’s nearly kidnapped/killed by Vargas. And, of course, falls in love with Wayne.
  • Morris Ankrum (Ride ‘Em Cowboy, Roxie Hart) as Dr. Frederick Cleveland. The scientist who, after three summers of searching, finally finds the evidence to support his theory.
  • Buddy Baer (Quo Vadis, Jack and the Beanstalk) as Vargas the Giant. The “giant”, who supposedly was in a coma, mistakenly buried alive by Native Americans, and revived by lightning centuries later.
  • Bob Steele (The Big Sleep) as Sheriff Parker. A one-note character. He keeps threatening to arrest Wade, on literally no evidence, until he finally does. But, eventually he sees the light and lets Wade go …. So he can rescue Janet and fight Vargas. He leads the posse against Vargas — but bullets only seem to irritate him for some reason.
  • Jolene Brand (Zorro TV series) as Anne Brown. A nice young lady who’s Vargas’ first victim.
  • Gary Crutcher … Charlie Brown. Anne’s brother. A young man who impulsively tries to stop Vargas by himself, for Anne’s sake. It doesn’t go well for him.
  • Billy Dix as Indian Joe. A horribly racist, stereotypical portrayal. It’s hard to be believe that dialog like “Ugh. White man speak with forked tongue” was acceptable in the late 1950’s. He suspects people of trespassing on the sacred Indian burial ground. And goes as far as to fire a warning shot at his friend, Wade. He later gets killed by Vargas.

Editorial review of Giant from the Unknown courtesy of Amazon.com

Dr. Frederick Cleveland and his daughter Janet are joined by scientific researcher Wayne Brooks in the pursuit of ancient artifacts from Vargas, a giant 500-year-old Spanish conquistador. When a lightning storm interrupts their search, the team finds much more than artifacts when the long-lost Vargas returns to life, with a murderous rage and an axe to grind! With a shock a minute, Giant from the Unknown (1958) features make-up design from horror mainstay Jack Pierce, known for his work on Frankenstein (1931) and The Mummy (1932).

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