Producer Bert I. Gordon was never one to let a good idea die – or a bad idea for that matter – so after the mild success of his film The Amazing Colossal Man it stood to reason that a sequel would be a foregone conclusion, of course, there was the small problem of the title character having died at the end of the previous film, but something as inconsequential as death never stops a sequel from happening when money is on the line.
The movie opens with a little mystery in the offing, one concerning a Mexican worker named Miguel (Robert Hernandez) being chased by something that we don’t see but it clearly terrifies the boy, which leads to an irate John Swanson (George Becwar) wanting to know where his truck full of produce has vanished to, as it was last seen been driving by Miguel and now seems to have been simply carried away. This event catches the eye of Joyce Manning (Sally Fraser), sister of “Colossal Man” Glenn Mann, and along with Army officer Major Mark Baird (Roger Pace) and scientist Dr. Carmichael (Russ Bender), they travel down to Mexico to learn if Joyce’s brother had somehow survived his presumed death at Boulder Dam and was now running around jacking groceries from unsuspecting Mexicans.
Joyce and Major Baird eventually find poor colossal Glenn (Duncan “Dean” Parkin), who is now a disfigured and nearly mindless creature wandering around the Mexican hills, but with the help of the Mexican military he is captured, drugged by food brought out to him like bait, and then transported back to the United States where, unfortunately, it’s soon discovered that Glenn’s mind is completely gone and what remains is nothing more than that of a monster or wild beast, and so the government decides to ship him off to a deserted island where food would be routinely cargo dropped to keep him alive, but in a turn of events that would shock no one, he escapes and goes on a rampage across California, through Los Angeles and into Hollywood, but without even stopping at Disneyland.
• When John Swanson’s truck goes missing his insurance company refuses to pay due to the mysterious nature of its disappearance, in this case, the tire tracks simply end with no sign as to where the truck went, but Swanson has only to prove is that he no longer has a truck, he doesn’t have to come up with a theory as to how it was stolen.
• In the previous film, Glenn’s fiancée, Carol Forrest, clearly stated that Glenn had no living relatives “I’m all that he has” but in this film, he suddenly has a very worried sister running around, so where was this concerned sibling when he was first turned into a colossal man?
• Major Baird claims that Glenn’s body was never found because the Colorado River, where the Colossal Man fell into at the end of the last movie, is a mile deep at some points, but the deepest the river actually get is about 100 feet, which would make finding a colossal man rather easy. I’m betting they didn’t even look, lazy bastards.
• When the Colossal Man is captured, various government agencies immediately begin to play “Hot Potato” to avoid the responsibility of dealing with a giant in their midst, and this bureaucratic buck-passing is probably the most credible and realistic part of this entire movie.
• Being that they didn’t have Glenn Langan as the Colossal Man for the sequel, they recycled make-up from Bert I. Gordon’s 1957 feature The Cyclops to hide the fact that a different actor was playing the part. Mind you, the make-up effect is much approved here and is really quite frightening.
• As was the case with Ray Harryhausen’s The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms we learn that a giant monster can wander through a major metropolitan area for quite some time without being spotted.
• The film’s poster stated, “See a Sixty-Foot Giant Destroyed…In Color!” which in reality meant 40 seconds of the Colossal Beast electrocuting himself.
The weird thing about War of the Colossal Beast is the fact that it wasn’t even marketed as a sequel, something that goes against the very reason behind making a sequel in the first place, so when the film unfolds we get flashback footage from the original film and I bet there were a bunch of ten-year-old kids in the audience scratching their collective heads in confusion as to what the hell was going on. This is not helped by the central character being a sister who emphatically did not exist in the original, and I’m still wondering why the loving fiancée from the first film is not present here – why couldn’t the sister and fiancée have teamed up together to save good ole Glenn, and leave the men out of it entirely – but for reasons unknown to me this film has no returning cast members, which is a shame because Glenn Langan put in a wonderful performance as the tortured colossal man in the previous film, and so we are left with a movie that is a half-ass sequel and an overall strange duck.
That all said, this low-budget outing from B-movie master Bert I. Gordon does have some fun moments, and with a film that is barely over an hour in length it shouldn’t be too hard to keep your audience awake, and sure, the effects still suffer from bad optical composting that result in a more of an amazing transparent man rather than a colossal one but it is still a fun little film and the cast were certainly giving it their all in a movie whose very premise can’t be described as anything other than ludicrous and silly, what with the sister constantly wringing her hands about the fate of her brother, who has already killed several people and threatens millions of others. The fact that the Colossal Beast spends most of the film’s short running time chained up is about as exciting to watch as a passed-out relative at Christmas time is a bit problematic but even though there may not be much actual war in War of the Colossal Beast fans of the genre will most likely get a kick out of these giant shenanigans Bert I. Gordon manages to bring to the screen, just keep your expectations lowered…a lot.
War of the Colossal Beast (1958)
Movie Rank - 4/10
There are some nice moments within Bert I. Gordon’s War of the Colossal Beast, the model work is nice even if the optical effects were not, and the “shocking” ending definitely makes the film more memorable than it has any right to be, that is not this is a “good” movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an entertaining one.