“Giants can run fast. They have long legs.” – Sgt Luis Murillo
Astoundingly, in 1958, someone (specifically Bert I. Gordon) in Hollywood watched The Amazing Colossal Man and thought it was soooooo good, it merited a sequel. How tis conclusion was reached is one of Hollywood’s great unsolved mysteries, along with the Kardashians’ popularity.
As you might recall, The Amazing Colossal Man was kind of a tepid monster film to put it kindly. But it was entertaining in its half assed execution. It had a quirky appeal to those of us who enjoy really bad B-movies. Routinely, these kinds of movies are standalones, one-off wonders that came and went and were mercifully forgotten by the public at large. But not big old Glen Manning, striding along at sixty feet tall after being bombarded by fallout from a mysterious experimental Plutonium bomb, who damaged a bit of Las Vegas before being subjected to heavy artillery by the U.S. Army while standing on the Boulder Dam and plunging to his certain death.
How did he survive his 700 feet plunge from the dam and end up in this lacklustre sequel?
Well, the body was never recovered, which is odd when you think he’s sixty feet tall, but we don’t find THAT out until the film’s well underway. We open with a young Mexican man driving a truck, hell for leather along a deserted road, clearly terrified of something. Though the driver is found and taken to the local hospital, the truck is missing.
Meanwhile, just over the border in the U.S.A, Glen Manning’s grieving sister Joyce (Sally Fraser) has tuned in to to a news broadcast telling of truck robberies and hysterical claims of giant sightings in Mexico. She has a suspicion that her brother survived his swan dive from the dam because his body, as I mentioned, was never recovered.
So off she goes to Mexico, along with Major Mark Baird (Roger Pace) and indeed, Glen is still alive, stealing food from delivery trucks to survive. Although effects and narrative wise it's sadly lacking (next to nothing happens in the film, as you’ll see) the make-up on the Colossal Man is pretty impressive and effectively conceals the fact that it’s a different actor this time around. Half Glen’s face has been destroyed, showing an exposed, empty eye socket and bare bone, like a half skull, almost. Vocalising only in guttural grunts, it’s evident that the trauma and the fall have left him brain damaged, so he’s acting on instinct and impulse. He’s also minding his own business, apart from stealing food delivery trucks to eat from.
This is his undoing, they capture him by baiting a trap with a truckload of drugged bread, which renders him unconscious and then airlift him back to the U.S.
They have no idea what to do with him, now they’ve got him – no government department wants to take responsibility (at least THAT’S accurate) so he’s tied up on a giant bed in a hangar at a Los Angeles airport, while the authorities and Joyce try to revive his memory by showing him clips from the first film. (Yeah… I know)
Anyway, the upshot is that he escapes and wanders off to Griffith Park with the army in hot pursuit. We don’t even see him escape (Probably filming that would’ve stretched the $20 budget) and he harms nobody on his way. When there, he picks up a busload of kids on a school trip to the Griffith Park Observatory, shakes it about a bit before setting it down, then decides to kill himself by walking in to electrical cables, where the film suddenly becomes colour, then he dies.
And that’s basically it. Seventy minutes of waiting for something to happen, where the highlight of the movie was watching the flashbacks of the first film.
But we did get some B movie gold, in the form of the following dialogue exchange:
Dr. Carmichael: The foot that made that print is about ten times the size of a normal man's. That would make him about sixty feet tall.
Joyce Manning: Glenn was sixty feet tall!
(Sigh) Let’s all be grateful it never became a trilogy.
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