GIANT FROM THE UNKNOWN (Blu-ray Review)
From THE FILM DETECTIVE
Review by Mr. Paws😽
Well, he ain’t quite unknown. In fact, Dr. Frederick Cleveland (Morris Ankrum) appears to know exactly who he is, where he came from and his final resting place. His name is Vargas, the “Diablo Giant” who ran rampant through Devil's Crag 500 years ago.
Elsewhere, a few locals from the nearby town of Pine Ridge - along with some cattle - have been mysteriously killed. Dim-bulb sheriff Parker (Bob Steele) thinks it’s murder and inexplicably suspects Wayne Brooks (Ed Kemmer), while ‘Indian Joe’ (your standard-Hollywood-issue native) believes it’s a curse.
It turns out Vargas (Buddy Baer) was only mostly dead, preserved in stone until just recently. Now his reign of terror will continue unless Wayne, Cleveland and the good doctor’s sexy daughter, Janet (Sally Fraser), can find and kill him. But creature-feature fans need to be patient because the first half of Giant from the Unknown is relentlessly talky, during which time Cleveland provides exposition, Wayne & Janet smooch, we meet a kid named Charlie Brown and Steele demonstrates why he’s the best actor in the cast. Not that the other performances are terrible, but the sheriff is the only one infused with any real personality.
|You're a dead man, Charlie Brown.|
Still, one must admire the can-do spirit of this micro-budget obscurity. Once it gets out of first gear, Giant from the Unknown offers some lowball fun, sometimes at its own expense, but just as often because it’s pretty well assembled for a film with clearly limited resources. Vargas himself is kind of an amusing creation, with make-up provided by none-other than Jack Pierce (best known for his work in 1931’s Frankenstein).
Like many low-budget bonanzas rescued from mothballs by The Film Detective, the restoration and bonus features are arguably more impressive than the movie itself. The supplementary material is not-only fun, but anecdotal and informative. Though Giant from the Unknown is no lost classic, it’s been given a first-class Blu-ray treatment.
INTERVIEW WITH GARY CRUTCHER - Crutcher played ‘Charlie Brown’ in the film (seriously).
FEATURETTE - Summary of character actor Bob Steele’s lengthy career, a long-time star and co-star of numerous low-budget westerns, he’s arguably the best-known member of the cast.
2 AUDIO COMMENTARIES - 1) By film historian Tom Weaver, who has fun with the film, and includes recorded excerpts with director Richard Cunha & producer Arthur A. Jacobs; 2) By actor Gary Crutcher.
SUPPLEMENTARY BOOKLET - Includes behind-the-scenes photos and an essay by Tom Weaver.