War of the Colossal Beast was released on Blu-ray by Scream! Factory on November 10th 2020. Special features:
Audio commentary with author C. Courtney Joyner, filmmaker Donald F. Glut, and monster historian Eric Hoffman (new)
Size Matters: Bert I. Gordon at AIP (new)
Alternate black-and-white ending
War of the Colossal Beast is a 1958 science fiction horror film written, co-produced and directed by Bert I. Gordon (Empire of the Ants; Necromancy; The Cyclops; et al) and produced by Carmel Productions and distributed by American International Pictures (AIP).
The movie continued the storyline of the 1957 movie The Amazing Colossal Man, although it was not marketed as a direct sequel and features a different cast.
Upon hearing of several recent robberies of food delivery trucks in Mexico (including an overly long sequence involving a hysterical delivery boy), Joyce Manning, Army officer Lt. Colonel Glenn Manning’s sister (though in The Amazing Colossal Man, his fiancee said he had no surviving family), becomes convinced that her brother survived his fall from the Boulder Dam at the end of the first film. Along with Army officer Major Mark Baird and scientist Doctor Carmichael, she goes to Mexico to look for him.
It is discovered that Manning, now having grown to sixty-feet tall after being exposed to plutonium radiation, survived his fall from the Boulder Dam at the end of the previous movie, but he has gone insane and part of his face was left disfigured following his confrontation with the Army there, turning him into a zombie-like creature.
Not only has the plutonium radiation mutated him into a sixty-foot disfigured freak, but it also has conferred other benefits; drastically reducing his vocabulary to an oddly disturbing goose-like honk and only eating loaves of infected bread (by the truckload).
Manning is captured, drugged by the Army and taken back to America but he again escapes and goes on a rampage through Los Angeles and ending at the Griffith Park Observatory.
Eventually, Joyce makes him snap to his senses, just as he is about to hurl a coach-load of children to their doom. The ending sees Glenn in an unfortunate tangle with some electricity pylons and is almost exactly like the death of the 50-ft Woman.
A definite improvement on The Amazing Colossal Man, the first signs of interest is sparked by a markedly more gloomy title. A beast he is, with half his face disfigured by wounds inflicted by the army in the first movie, although only crudely applied, the makeup is surprisingly effective. Even more alarming is the unearthly roar he bellows throughout – it’s almost frightening.
Sally Fraser’s appearance as his sister is obnoxiously simpering but she looks great, having previously starred in It Conquered the World and Giant From the Unknown (what is it with her and big blokes?), though the film’s main attraction is played by two-hit wonder Duncan ‘Dean’ Parkin, whose only other role, ironically, was as the monster in The Cyclops from the same year.
The film is riddled with bizarre dialogue; Sally describes her brother as ‘a guy who grew ten feet a day, maybe you heard of him’ – ‘oh yes, the colossal man!’ responds a quick-learning Major.
Later, another army clot asserts, ‘giants can run quick – they have long legs’. At a mere sixty-nine minutes long, the film is still padded to the hilt with not only a clunky script but a lengthy flashback to the original film, seemingly unconcerned with the fact that the monster is played by someone else entirely.
The film’s ending will certainly wake you up if you were flagging, suddenly switching from black and white to garish Technicolor, as creature features dramatically stumble into the space age. War of the Colossal Beast is hugely flawed but most entertaining and with one of the most overlooked monsters of sci-fi horror films.
Daz Lawrence, MOVIES and MANIA
“Not much worse than The Amazing Colossal Man, it is another low-budget, sometimes daft but very amusing and appealing Fifties horror outing. Its cheap, wobbly special effects and equally wobbly performances simply add to its low-rent attraction.” Derek Winnert
“This time the production is done in minimal doses, using only a few actors, all of them adults. It’s possible that the live-action scenes were shot in less than a week, with even less time spent on exterior locations. Director Gordon really leaves his cast adrift…” DVD Talk
” …it spends about half of its time turning him into a standard giant-monster threat (though the rampage is even less substantial than the one in the original) and the other half trying to work up sympathy for his plight. Unfortunately, the actor playing him is stripped of both voice (he utters one word at the end of the film) and facial expression (the hideous makeup is shocking, but leaves him little to work with as an actor)…” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
“War of the Colossal Beast isn’t as much fun of The Amazing Colossal Man, largely because Glenn can no longer speak so, other than in the flashbacks to the first film, we don’t get any tortured monologues about the unfairness of it all. That said, the Colossal Beast make-up is actually pretty effective and I’m sure many kids in the 50s had nightmares about having to escape from a one-eyed giant.” Horror Critic
Cast and characters:
Duncan “Dean” Parkin as Lt. Colonel Glenn Manning/Colossal Man
Sally Fraser as Joyce Manning
Roger Pace as Major Mark Baird
Russ Bender as Doctor Carmichael
Rico Alaniz as Sgt. Luis Murillo
Charles Stewart as Captain Harris
George Becwar as John Swanson
Roy Gordon as Mayor
Robert Hernandez as Miguel
George Milan as General Nelson
Cathy Downs as Carol Forrest (archive footage)
William Hudson as Doctor Paul Linstrom (archive footage)
Larry Thor as Major Eric Coulter (archive footage)
Griffith Observatory, 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, California
Iverson Ranch – 1 Iverson Lane, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California
Black and white | Colour
Aspect Ratio: 1.66: 1