Last year we tackled The Amazing Colossal Man, so it just common courtesy to cover the sequel, War Of The Colossal Beast, released just 1 year after and again directed, written and produced by the master of rear-projection cinema, Bert I. Gordon.
And yes, this isn’t just a loose remake/redo that might or might not take place after the original, this is actually a sequel, which isn’t always a given for this kind of movie, even more since it wasn’t marketed as a sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man (hence the title that doesn’t include “colossal man” in it) and the cast is different. But like the first movie, it was originally released as a double-feature, this time with another Bert I. Gordon flick, Attack Of The Puppet People, which i already mentioned in the review for The Amazing Colossal Man (and has an amazing Rifftrax version out).
After an alarming number of food delivery trucks robberies in Mexico, Joyce Manning, the sister of lieutenant Glenn Manning, starts to investigate and believes his brother, mutated into the giant, actually survived being shot by a tank and falling off the Boulder Dam, as she suspect he might be behind the delivery trucks being robbed of food.
With a scientist and an Army officer she goes to Mexico, and they confirm that indeed, Glenn is still alive and robbed the delivery trucks to eat, but the fall made him disfigured and nearly demented. They manage to capture him, but he manages to escape yet again, goes into a rampage through Las Vegas (for old times sake) and Hollywood, and almost kills a schoolbus full of children, but his sister manages to reason with him, making come back to his senses, and now, fully aware of what he did and became, decides to kill himself by holding onto high-voltage power lines.
And this time he would never rise again.
With this one, we have problems right away, like, i’m pretty sure lieutenant Glenn didn’t have any family aside his wife, they addressed this in The Amazing Colossal Man, they did, but now we have his sister, basically serving the same role as Glenn’s wife in the movie. So while Bert I. Gordon did conceive the story… i have a feel he didn’t check the screenplay by George Worthing Yates.
This isn’t the biggest problem, in itself, but it’s just so indicative how sloppy and disjointed this movie feels compared to the first one, and how much this is one or two steps back in terms of quality and pretty much anything. It’s completely unnecessary and a rethread poorly executed as well, since now the Colossal Man doesn’t even speak, he just roars and growls, he has no agenda or personality due to the convenient brain damage, and we’re given absolutely no reason to root for him, or even to care on a basic level, since the new characters are notably worse, more stupid and the acting on offer is of inferior quality as well.
Which i feel has to do with some of the casting, as the Colossal Man isn’t played by Glenn Langan here, but by Duncan Parkin, and at least they try to mask it’s not the same actor as before, especially with make up and by having half his face melted off revealing the teeth and skull, a nice grotesque detail for the time that does actually make the Titans from Attack On Titan come to mind.
Still a better effect than the one chosen for the cyclops in ….The Cyclops, that released a year earlier, also by B.I.G and with Duncan Parkin as the titular cyclops, where it looks like they just poured melted cheese over one of Parkin’ eyes.
I mean, it’s still a guy in loincloth with shaven head, so you’d think this would work fine if the movie doesn’t draw attention to it… but it does, because mid-way through, we get treated to 8/9 minutes of constant stock footage from The Amazing Colossal Man, framed with the giant tied after being shot, and recalling memories of scenes from that movie, complete with audio that feels different from the one in this film, and even bits of the old movie when Glenn talks.
Sure, the last one isn’t exactly a problem, as Duncan Parkin has just a single word line for his character, but it all makes it easier to tell this isn’t the same actor, and that this is exactly the kind of drive-in crap you would expect the first one to be. The only thing consistent is the quality of the special effects… which wasn’t good even in the first movie, but the plot and characters did manage to make a decent movie, despite the not that convincing effects for the monster.
Here not even the direction is acceptable, i know it’s Bert I. Gordon, but it’s clear he wasn’t even trying with this one, otherwise i can’t explain accidentally hilarious shit like the “montage” of goverment people calling each other on the phone to dodge paying the “custody fee” of the gigantic man-toddler, or the giant itself being able to escape despite being observed very closely (with flashlights, too) nearby him. Sure, he was able to break the chains slowly so to not arouse suspicion, i can buy that, but how the hell did he manage to sneak by the guards there is just… magic.
And it’s not like you get more monster action in exchange for less plot or anything else, you don’t even get that, unless you wanna count the stock footage scenes from the first movie. I don’t, since it’s just weasiling out of making more movie.
It’s not a complete stinker, even for Bert I. Gordon there’s worst, but it’s pretty bad, with some really, really dumb moments to boot, and while the finale is a tragic defeat that matches the tone seen in the ending of the first movie, it’s not enough to save War Of The Colossal Beast from sub-mediocrity. Even if the movie turns to color just for that 20 seconds death scene.
It’s kinda pointless as a sequel too, so if you just skip this movie all together.,.. you won’t be missing much. Same if you decide to actually watch for completition sake, not much to be gained either.