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Fred F. Sears
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In the 16th century a small band of warriors from the Spanish Ptolemy Firello expedition in California mutinies. Led by one of Firello's lieutenants, a huge, depraved giant of a man known as Vargas, the group heads off into the mountains to search for gold and is never heard from again. Hundreds of years later, a lightning bolt frees Vargas from a state of suspended animation underground and sends him out to terrorize a rural mountain village. Written by
Jeremy Lunt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Way way back in my childhood years (well okay, maybe not THAT far back!) I remember seeing this movie many times on the late late show. I was attracted to this film originally because I had previously seen THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN and ATTACK OF THE FIFTY FOOT WOMAN and I expected something more. When I say the giant of the title was just a little bit taller than the rest of the cast I was disappointed at first but the spell of this movie quickly won me over. I mean, how can you not like a movie that has former B western star Bob Steele as the no-nonsense sheriff of a small mountain town?
Ed Kemmer (EARTH VS THE SPIDER), Morris Ankrum (INVADERS FROM MARS among many others) and Sally Fraser (WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST) are searching a mountain area with the foreboding name of Devil's Crag in the hopes of finding proof that a legendary renegade Conquistador named Vargas really did exist ("A man of unusual size and strength . . .a depraved degenerate of a man."). To their amazement they discover that he still does exist after some 400 years. Preserved by chemicals in the soil (so Morris informs us) he is revived by a bolt of lightning. Vargas (Buddy Baer, brother of prizefighter Max Baer and uncle of Max "Jethro Bodine" Baer Jr.) is no gentle giant though. At first he just slaughters cattle but then he graduates to people! His attack on mountain girl Joline Brand hints that a brutal sexual assault preceded her murder and he leaves local "crazy guy" Indian Joe hanging from a hook! The scientists join the sheriff and his posse to hunt down and destroy the giant but either he is too tough to be brought down by bullets or that is one really good suit of armour he is wearing. So can the mountain folk win out over the rampaging giant? Well luckily this film is now on DVD so you can find out without having to stay up until 2 in the morning like I did when I was a kid.
The makeup for Buddy Baer was done by Jack Pierce, who created such memorable scary faces as the Frankenstein Monster, I'm-Ho-Tep, Kharis and the Wolfman. It was directed by Richard Cunha who gave us 3 other memorable late night classics: MISSILE TO THE MOON, SHE DEMONS and the unforgettable FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER.
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