War of the Colossal Beast (1958) poster

War of the Colossal Beast (1958)


USA. 1958.


Director/Story/Producer/Special Technical Effects – Bert I. Gordon, Screenplay – George Worthing Yates, Photography (b&w) – Jack Marta, Music – Albert Glasser, Special Makeup – Jack H. Young, Art Direction – Walter Keller. Production Company – Carmel Productions.


Dean Parkin (Colonel Glen Manning), Sally Fraser (Joyce Manning), Roger Pace (Major Mark Baird), Russ Bender (Dr Carmichael), Rico Alaniz (Sergeant Luis Marillo), George Becwar (John Swanson), Robert Hernandez (Miguel)


After a news report about a truck going missing in Guavos, Mexico, Joyce Manning believes she has found the trail of her brother Glen, who became the Colossal Man after being exposed to an atomic bomb blast that caused him to grow to 60 feet in size. Glen was supposedly killed by the military at Boulder Dam but Joyce believes that he has survived. They track Glen down where he is hiding in the Mexican desert, raiding passing trucks for food. The military manage to capture him using a truckload of drugged bread. He is placed in an airplane hangar in Los Angeles where scientists try to discover if his mind has been destroyed altogether or he can still be reached. However, Glen manages to escape from the hangar and goes on a rampage through the city.

Director, producer and fairly much one-man band Bert I. Gordon had modest success in the 1950s and 60s with a series of giant bug and big/little people films, all made on pitifully small budgets. These include The Cyclops (1957), Beginning of the End (1957), Attack of the Puppet People (1958), Earth vs the Spider (1958), Village of the Giants (1965), as well as the later likes of The Food of the Gods (1976) and Empire of the Ants (1977). The constant recurrence of size themes in his films and the coincidence of his initials had Gordon nicknamed Mr B.I.G.

One of Bert I. Gordon’s better films was The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), featuring Glenn Langan as a man turned into a giant by atomic radiation. War of the Colossal Beast was a sequel. The Amazing Colossal Man stood out above the rest of Bert I. Gordon’s cheap films and showed a modest degree of imagination. The same could not be said for War of the Colossal Beast, which is only sequel making by the numbers. Certainly, Colossal Beast is competently made as B science-fiction movies of this era go, has okay actors, is passably scripted, while Gordon’s direction is pedestrian but adequate. It is also a boring film. It is, for example, 20 minutes into this 69-minute movie before we get the first brief appearance of the Colossal Man. Gordon also cheats considerably in allowing a substantial chunk of the middle of the film to be taken up by flashbacks to the original events, which have simply been padded out with footage from The Amazing Colossal Man.

Furthermore, War of the Colossal Beast lacks the same frisson that The Amazing Colossal Man had as a story. Colossal Man was an archetypal 1950s plot of a man mutating into a giant and going on a rampage before being shot down by the military; War of the Colossal Beast far less interestingly involves a mystery (where we already know the answer to the identity of the monster) and then the Colossal Man’s capture and escape, before being shot down by the military all over again. It, for example, takes some 40 minutes of running time (most of which is taken up by the flashbacks to the original) before we get to the point of Manning’s capture.

Dean Parkin as Colonel Glen Manning in War of the Colossal Beast (1958)
Dean Parkin as the Colossal Beast, Colonel Glen Manning

Moreover, the Colossal Man is on screen surprisingly little of the time – a few scenes during his capture, his breakout from the hangar and then the showdown at the Griffith Park Observatory. (Indeed, the Colossal Man appears more during the scenes taken from the original film than in the new scenes that have been shot for this film). Even then, most of the climax takes place with him hiding behind foliage and only coming out at the end to be caught in a spotlight and then fry himself on the power lines. The film at least does turn to colour for these scenes.

Glenn Langan, who played the role in the original, is now replaced by Dean Parkin. One thing that War of the Colossal Beast does is to give the Colossal Man/Beast a much more effective makeup job with a half scarred face. There are some occasionally good effects – like the first appearance of the Colossal Beast behind the side of the mountain or with him tied up in a hangar – but other effects shots betray thick and obvious matte lines and are down around the usual level of Bert I. Gordon’s effects. In some shots, Dean Parkin is simply double-exposed over the hangar and airfield tower.

Bert I. Gordon’s other films are:– King Dinosaur (1955), The Cyclops (1957), Beginning of the End (1957), The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), Attack of the Puppet People (1958), Earth vs the Spider (1958), the fantasy adventure The Boy and the Pirates (1960), the ghost story Tormented (1960), the fantasy The Magic Sword (1962), Village of the Giants (1965), the psycho-thriller Picture Mommy Dead (1966), the occult film Necromancy (1972), The Mad Bomber (1973), The Food of the Gods (1976), Empire of the Ants (1977) and the witchcraft films The Coming/Burned at the Stake (1981) and Malediction/Satan’s Princess (1990), and Secrets of a Psychopath (2015).

Trailer here

Film online in several parts beginning here:-

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