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  Village of the Giants Bigger Than LifeBuy this film here.
Year: 1965
Director: Bert I. Gordon
Stars: Tommy Kirk, Johnny Crawford, Beau Bridges, Ron Howard, Joy Harmon, Robert Random, Tisha Sterling, Charla Doherty, Tim Rooney, Joe Turkel, Toni Basil
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A bunch of teenagers arrive in the town of Hainesville looking for a good time, but what they find is that boy scientist Genius (Ron Howard) has discovered a formula that makes animals grow to many times their normal size. They're determined to get their hands on it, but Mike (Tommy Kirk) and his friends try to stop them. It's only a matter of time until the town is overrun with giant teens with big ideas...

The opening credits tell us that this is based on the H.G. Wells book "Food of the Gods", but you only have to see the mildly fetishistic scene that follows - teens writhing about in the mud and the rain to the sound of the car radio - to understand this is a loose adaptation at best. Written by Alan Caillou from director Bert I. Gordon's storyline, it is very much in the tradition of Gordon's "giant people and/or animals go on the rampage" films, but this time, with its rock and pop soundtrack, it's aimed solely at the kids.

The pacing is strange; until the halfway point where the bad teens grow huge, everyone acts pretty casually about the effects of the miracle stuff. Giant spider in the basement? Sure, it takes a bit of effort to electrocute it to death, but Mike doesn't seem too bothered. Massive ducks shaking a tailfeather on the local dancefloor? Nobody bats an eyelid, they're too busy enjoying the music of the Beau Brummels (although the ducks end up the centrepiece of a barbecue).

Gordon knows his audience, so along with the rock and roll there is an attempt to add sex into the mix. One of the bad teens wonders salaciously about what else the formula makes bigger before taking it, and when they do, they burst out of their clothes! Dressed in togas made from curtains and sheets, the villains turn the story into a bizarre juvenile delinquent movie, first forcing the adults to get rid of their guns, kidnapping the sheriff's little daughter, and then, er, demanding fried chicken and Coca Cola - and plenty of it.

The most notable thing about Village of the Giants is not the variable special effects, which are campy but effective enough, but Jack Nitzsche's score; the main theme is a fantastic, menacing, rock instrumental which crops up throughout - the giant teens even dance at great length to it. Considering the film is a collection of familiar elements, like a laboratory full of bubbling flasks or the action being interrupted for musical interludes, it works pretty well if you can go with its easygoing tempo and ridiculousness. Watch for: Toni Basil's go-go dancing, and the way they knock out one giant girl - where did they get all that cotton wool from?!
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Bert I. Gordon  (1922 - )

Known as Mister B.I.G., this American writer, director and producer came from advertising to make a host of giant monster movies in the 1950s - King Dinosaur, Beginning of the End, The Cyclops, The Amazing Colossal Man, Earth vs the Spider and War of the Colossal Beast. Attack of the Puppet People featured minituarisation, as a variation.

The 60s saw him make various fantasy and horror movies, such as Tormented, The Magic Sword, Village of the Giants and Picture Mommy Dead. The 1970s only offered two giant monster movies, Food of the Gods and Empire of the Ants, plus horror Necromancy and thriller The Mad Bomber. Subsequent films in the eighties were made with the video market in mind, and he made a comeback in 2015 at the age of 93 (!) with psycho-horror Secrets of a Psychopath.

 
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