‘It came from another world’
Giant from the Unknown is a 1958 horror film in which a large Spanish conquistador is freed from suspended animation by lightning. The resurrected “diablo” monster goes on a killing spree in a small town.
Directed and photographed by Richard E. Cunha (Girl in Room 13; Frankenstein’s Daughter; Missile to the Moon; She Demons) from a story and screenplay co-written by Frank Hart Taussig (Perils of the Jungle) and Ralph Brooke (The Right Hand of the Devil; Bloodlust!).
The American Screencraft Enterprises production stars Ed Kemmer, Sally Fraser, Bob Steele, Morris Ankrum and Buddy Baer.
The soundtrack score was composed by Albert Glasser (Tormented; Teenage Cave Man; Attack of the Puppet People; The Amazing Colossal Man; The Cyclops; Monster from Green Hell).
Buddy Baer’s monster makeup was provided by Jack P. Pierce, a veteran of Universal classics such as Frankenstein (1931) and The Mummy (1932).
“I adore these campy nostalgic efforts that often stretch every dollar with the ‘build’ of the monster always being frequently more effective than seeing them […] Here we get the small town milieu, an unknown ‘creature’ reeking havoc and the academia brainiacs revealing the truth while conflicting with the townsfolk – formulaic but I never tire of it.” DVD Beaver
” …the first two-thirds of the movie is a somewhat tedious slog, lacking really interesting characters, sharp dialogue or interesting plot developments; I found the only thing I could latch onto was Morris Ankrum’s familiar face. Things do pick up once the giant manifests himself, though, and the movie ends up making some quite surprisingly excellent use of locations…” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
“With a big, booming and dramatic score by Albert Glasser, superb acting, and a menacing villain, Giant from the Unknown is a solid entry in the sci-fi and horror monster movies of yesteryear. It is rather short, at an hour and 17 minutes, so you shouldn’t have any trouble squeezing it when not looking for anything too serious to watch.” Repulsive Reviews
“1.) this is a remarkably well-made film for the fifties, with good sound and film quality, reasonably good acting and even some well-staged action; and
2.) that for some reason, in an otherwise sane and sensible script, the giant starts murdering people before the scene in which we see him wake up (complete with references to the reviving influence of lightning).” Rivets on the Poster
” …Giant from the Unknown is a perfect example of how to make a great film from a hokey premise. By making the most of their budget, employing actors and actresses that knew what they were doing and not going too far off the beaten path to create something entirely implausible, this story of a time-displaced Conquistador ended up being quite a good time.” The Telltale Mind
“Richard Cunha’s direction is sound and his camerawork exceptionally good, especially when compared to the rushed, sloppy work seen in other under-budgeted independent productions […] Albert Glasser’s attention-getting music score is a big plus […] The darn thing plays like a real movie, not a clunky wannabe like the similar The Neanderthal Man.” Trailers from Hell
” …this film is a poorly written and badly directed hokey mess. The only points of interest here are makeup man Jack Pierce’s work on Baer’s grotesque visage and Albert Glasser’s interesting score.” TV Guide
“Director Richard E. Cunha, who was also responsible for the much more fun Frankenstein’s Daughter, paces the movie like an asthmatic snail. It also doesn’t help that the performances are mostly all bad and every guy has that smug, square-jawed, 50’s @sshole look to them. I did like the crazy cackling Indian who warns the white folk though.” The Video Vacuum
In the US, Film Detective issued Giant from the Unknown on Blu-ray on January 19th 2021 with the following bonus features:
Audio Commentary with Author/ Historian Tom Weaver and Guests
Audio Commentary with co-star Gary Crutcher
An all-new interview actor/screenwriter Gary Crutcher
An all-new interview with author/film historian C. Courtney Joyner
Collector’s booklet with still gallery and liner notes by Tom Weaver
In the US, Giant from the Unknown was released by Astor Pictures on a double-bill with Missile to the Moon (1958).
Cast and characters:
Edward Kemmer … Wayne Brooks
Sally Fraser … Janet Cleveland
Bob Steele … Sheriff Parker
Morris Ankrum … Doctor Frederick Cleveland
Buddy Baer … Vargas the Diablo Giant
Oliver Blake … Cafe Proprietor
Joline Brand … Ann Brown
Billy Dix … Indian Joe / Posse Member
Gary Crutcher … Charlie Brown
Ned Davenport … First Townsman
Ewing Miles … Townsman
Ralph Brooke … Posse Member
Frank Hart Taussig … Townsman
Big Bear Lake, Big Bear Valley, San Bernardino National Forest, California
Fawnskin, California (town scenes)
Screencraft Studios, 8470 Melrose Ave, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California (studio)