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). It continued the storyline of the 1957 movie The Amazing Colossal Man, although it was not marketed as a direct sequel and featured 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. Col. 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 Dr. 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, 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 – whisper it – 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 10 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 69 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, HORRORPEDIA
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 Dr. 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 Dr. Paul Linstrom (archive footage)
- Larry Thor as Major Eric Coulter (archive footage)
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